Rodham
From the New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Eligible, a novel that imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton? In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton. But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life. Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterize the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel.

Rodham Details

TitleRodham
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 19th, 2020
PublisherRandom House
ISBN-139780399590917
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Politics

Rodham Review

  • Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like this book is going to piss a lot of people off and I want in on that controversial action. I feel like this book is going to piss a lot of people off and I want in on that controversial action.
  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    “When the Saints Go Marching On”......🎶Did Hillary sacrifice her professional future, being with Bill?Not in this fictional tale. I love Curtis Sittenfeld’s books. HUGE FAN....“American Wife”, was particularly outstanding. But....“Rodham”? Hm??? I read through the night - finished this morning.I gobbled this novel in one sitting. Its kinda of creepy...And....kinda thought- provoking puzzling. I don’t want to say too much.... ....readers will either choose this book because of being a fan of Hill “When the Saints Go Marching On”......🎶Did Hillary sacrifice her professional future, being with Bill?Not in this fictional tale. I love Curtis Sittenfeld’s books. HUGE FAN....“American Wife”, was particularly outstanding. But....“Rodham”? Hm??? I read through the night - finished this morning.I gobbled this novel in one sitting. Its kinda of creepy...And....kinda thought- provoking puzzling. I don’t want to say too much.... ....readers will either choose this book because of being a fan of Hillary Clinton- or a fan of Curtis Sittenfeld: perhaps both! Point is— choosing to read this book is very ‘self selective’. I don’t think any review: positive or negative will influence a readers choice.So..., I’ll leave one excerpt — and share — that for me— it wasn’t as spectacular as “American Wife”...And not as much fun as other Sittenfeld books. Personally, I think I’d die if this book was written about me....( even as fiction)....Bill says to Hillary: “Your whole body is perfect, and you have such a pretty face, your eyes and lips and your skin. I love playing with your hair, and I love how you smell and how you move when we are in bed. Isn’t it obvious I can’t keep my hands off you? I love your whole body. I love all of you. You’re brave and funny and hard-working and you’re so goddamn smart, but you know what? You’re beautiful, too. And there’s nothing about you that’s pathetic. Nothing”. The sex scenes, just felt yucky as can be.... and not because I’m a prude or anything was particularly disgusting as far as sex scenes go —but the mixture of personal fiction and political fiction didn’t feel right in my heart. Both played tricks on my mind - with the truth that....fact is: Bill Clinton was president… And Hillary was his wife and First Lady. Everything in this book is speculation. I found it worked terrific in Stephen kings book 11/22/63....But.....less so here. Cheatin’ sleazy Bill and Hardball Hillary might hit just the right ‘fun notes’....for many readers....But.....Power hunger politics &jokes to cover up our pain about the state of our country just felt old. However.... I wouldn’t mind some watermelon 🍉 about now! 3 stars.... good! not great!
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  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    THIS is the reality, the actual story, all serious Hillary fans wanted, maybe still want. As Americans watch the news everyday and get that winsome look in their eyes, they still think – if only Hillary was at the helm.Read this while you are in isolation and lose yourself for a few hours or days. You will not regret your mindful vacation.Curtis takes us back to 1971 when Hillary was a top student at Wellesley and gave her renowned commencement speech. Then on to Yale Law, still involved in stud THIS is the reality, the actual story, all serious Hillary fans wanted, maybe still want. As Americans watch the news everyday and get that winsome look in their eyes, they still think – if only Hillary was at the helm.Read this while you are in isolation and lose yourself for a few hours or days. You will not regret your mindful vacation.Curtis takes us back to 1971 when Hillary was a top student at Wellesley and gave her renowned commencement speech. Then on to Yale Law, still involved in student activism and women’s rights, she meets fellow student, Bill Clinton, from Arkansas. Both he and Hillary were intelligent, political, and driven, but he had that goofy, southern charm, that both annoyed and attracted her.Yes, they dated, and he won her over enough for her to move to Arkansas after their graduation. Although Bill proposed several times, Hillary always said no. She had some doubts about Bill, that would not let her marry him with a clear conscious. They broke up and she moved back to Chicago. Hillary built a solid life as a lawyer and professor, eventually leading to local and state politics, and then to the National stage.Bill calls her now and then to, “keep in touch,” and asks her to say, “good things,” about him to the press. She never promises one way or the other, but Bill keeps chattering on till they are saying goodbyes. Hillary is focused, always has been, on what is ahead, the goal she wants to attain. She will let nothing stand in her way, not even old boyfriends.It has been said, and I concur, “Curtis weaves a fictional tale with actual historical events.” (paraphrasing, mine.) Highly recommend.My last thought, is the timing of this book is unfortunate. 2017 would have been a better year. Thank you Netgalley, Penguin Random House, and Curtis Sittenfeld Pub date: May 19, 2020
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  • Justin Tate
    January 1, 1970
    Blew my saxophone! An inspired, stunningly poignant—yes, even a little dirty—creative re-imagining of what the Clintons are and what they could be in an alternate universe. Funny—and eerie—to think how choosing a different path (not marrying Bill) might have resulted in major surprises and similarities to reality.Highlights include sexually charged political innuendo between Bill and Hill in their college days, a nude saxophone performance, and delicious characterization of Bill as a self-descri Blew my saxophone! An inspired, stunningly poignant—yes, even a little dirty—creative re-imagining of what the Clintons are and what they could be in an alternate universe. Funny—and eerie—to think how choosing a different path (not marrying Bill) might have resulted in major surprises and similarities to reality.Highlights include sexually charged political innuendo between Bill and Hill in their college days, a nude saxophone performance, and delicious characterization of Bill as a self-described “horny bastard” who can’t resist a “savory honeypot.”Meanwhile, Hillary is seen as a figure who largely gives up earthly delights in favor of pursuing her political mission. The irony is that ambition looks great on men, but makes her unlikable.The alternate reality aspect offers humor and wit for political junkies and history buffs to relish. For example, Bill’s timid wife gives a disastrous 60 Minutes performance in defense of his infidelity and Hillary thinks how she could have done it better.Whether you’ve followed Hillary through her entire career, just binged her Hulu documentary, or are vaguely aware of current affairs, there’s plenty to enjoy from all sides of the political aisle.As for me, my first vivid memory of Hillary Clinton was in 1998. I would have been eight at the time, vaguely aware of the Lewinsky scandal though too young to know the meaning of sex. Hillary was on TV—probably doing the infamous “vast right-wing conspiracy” interview—and my mother spat with venom “she’s only defending him because she wants to be president!”Previously busy playing with toys, my ears perked to attention. I remember two things happening. First, I was shocked to learn that a woman could be president. As a third grader I memorized the names of presidents and consciously or unconsciously concluded that only men were allowed. This new information literally blew my mind. I had to ask my mother to confirm:“Is it even legal for a girl to be president?”“Technically yes,” Mom said. “If she’s at least 35.”The second thing was that I desperately wanted Hillary Clinton—whoever the hell that was—to be the first female president. Whatever fierce determination this woman had, if it was enough to piss off my mom, it had to be good.As I grew older, my love for Hillary increased. Learning about politics made me understand why someone might find her rehearsed responses ineffective and recognize the occasional poor word choice as political blunders, but it still boggles my mind how many people actually hate her. Democrats! Millennials! Those who never even slogged through wall-to-wall Clinton coverage! Why?? How??The most bizarre thing I ever heard was a mom say she “wouldn’t want to leave her daughter alone with Hillary.” Why?? Because she might be inspired?Sorry to tangent--is it possible to talk about Hillary and not go on a tangent?--but my point is that this fictional memoir does a superb job of showcasing Hillary as a human. Someone who falls in love, has sex, makes mistakes, regrets them, tries to move on. That said, the book also helps those of us with rose-colored glasses see her as a problematic figure, in this reality and others. The way the narrative toes that line is remarkable.This is not 400 pages of glorying Hillary and imagining a utopia where sexism is dead and women waltz into the White House. It by no means blames Bill for all her problems. We get plenty of harsh depictions of Hillary, many of them deserved, and sexism is in full swing. With and without Bill.Since that fateful day in 2016, I’ve hypothesized that history will actually be kinder to Hillary as the first female candidate rather than the first female president. Certainly it will be kinder to her than to you-know-who currently mucking things up.Books like this, filled with creative energy, deep reflection, and--most importantly--a riveting imagination of what it’s like to be in Hillary’s shoes refuel my hopes that I’m correct. Time will ultimately tell if her contribution to history is a small step for women or a giant leap, but I remain confident that it’s the latter.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    Um WHAT. I WANT THIS BOOK IN MY BRAIN RIGHT NOW. Curtis Sittenfeld, I heart you.
  • Lily Herman
    January 1, 1970
    Hear ye, hear ye: I've found what'll no doubt be one of the most polarizing books of the year and what I can only describe as a muuuuch darker and more political version of Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe In Another Life mixed with a little bit of the TV show Veep.The second I heard of Rodham's impending publication, it sent me down a bit of an existential crisis: Do we really need (or even truly want) a fictionalized account of Hillary Clinton's life without Bill Clinton as her spouse? Does it even Hear ye, hear ye: I've found what'll no doubt be one of the most polarizing books of the year and what I can only describe as a muuuuch darker and more political version of Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe In Another Life mixed with a little bit of the TV show Veep.The second I heard of Rodham's impending publication, it sent me down a bit of an existential crisis: Do we really need (or even truly want) a fictionalized account of Hillary Clinton's life without Bill Clinton as her spouse? Does it even matter? Especially when there are so many other books that can and should be published?One thing can't be doubted: Curtis Sittenfeld makes some incredibly deft and poignant remarks about modern womanhood and what it means to be a woman with ambition; I felt many of the struggles she described viscerally. And Sittenfeld wasn't necessarily in the wish fulfillment business where Hillary would be a perfect person without Bill, which was actually a relief. But my other big abstract question is, did we really need it to be Hillary Clinton to tell this story? There can be something unsettling about trying to fill in a lot of intimate gaps about a real-life person no matter who that is, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.Larger existential questions aside, I never quite got myself totally oriented with the writing itself. Hillary's personality oscillates between being nonexistent and slightly wry, and the chapter breakdowns were a little all over the place. I also felt like the ending was pretty abrupt considering how much of a slow burn the rest of the book was. I'm putting this one at 2.5 stars.I don't think I'll ever get much of a handle on Rodham. But maybe that's sort of the point.
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  • Jaclyn Crupi
    January 1, 1970
    My best friend Curtis Sittenfeld (swipe for photographic proof) wrote a book just for me. And if the saxophone scene doesn’t make you squeal with delight and discomfort then we are not the same. A triumph.
  • Ron Charles
    January 1, 1970
    In these Dark Ages of the Reign of Trump, Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Rodham” descends like an avenging angel. Here, in the pages of this alternate history about Hillary Rodham Clinton, is the story not of “What Happened” but of “What Could Have Happened.” This isn’t just fiction as fantasy; it’s fiction as therapy for that majority of Americans who voted for Clinton in 2016 and are now sick and unemployed under the current calamitous administration.It takes a village to create a demon, and that tirele In these Dark Ages of the Reign of Trump, Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Rodham” descends like an avenging angel. Here, in the pages of this alternate history about Hillary Rodham Clinton, is the story not of “What Happened” but of “What Could Have Happened.” This isn’t just fiction as fantasy; it’s fiction as therapy for that majority of Americans who voted for Clinton in 2016 and are now sick and unemployed under the current calamitous administration.It takes a village to create a demon, and that tireless work has produced the extraordinary boogeywoman that is Clinton, the conniving, corrupt, murderous, senile, pedophiliac, money-grubbing, cookie-hating, email-abusing harridan who terrifies Fox News commentators. Indeed, as the subject of thousands of wing nut conspiracies, Clinton may already be the most fictionalized person in modern political history.But “Rodham” is something of a rarity in American publishing. The market has long featured highly partisan nonfiction books created exclusively for liberals or conservatives. Trump disciples and detractors can spend their whole lives cuddled up with memoirs, biographies, exposés and rants that confirm their polarized convictions. “Rodham,” though, is a high-profile novel — not a parody or a joke book, but a serious work of literary fiction — designed to rally the political spirits of liberal readers.More than a decade ago, Sittenfeld published “American Wife,” a thoughtful, slightly melancholy. . . .To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
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  • Kristy
    January 1, 1970
    Curtis Sittenfeld's engaging novel looks at Hillary Rodham's life through this prism: what if she hadn't married Bill Clinton? In 1971, as Hillary Rodham graduates from Wellesley, she delivers a commencement speech that gains national prominence. She heads to Yale Law school--an intelligent woman, filled with the desire to help those in need. It is there she meets Bill Clinton, a fellow law student. The connection between the two is instant--for the first time, Hillary feels she has found someon Curtis Sittenfeld's engaging novel looks at Hillary Rodham's life through this prism: what if she hadn't married Bill Clinton? In 1971, as Hillary Rodham graduates from Wellesley, she delivers a commencement speech that gains national prominence. She heads to Yale Law school--an intelligent woman, filled with the desire to help those in need. It is there she meets Bill Clinton, a fellow law student. The connection between the two is instant--for the first time, Hillary feels she has found someone who appreciates her both emotionally and physically. In real life, Hillary and Bill head to Arkansas. He proposes three times, and she finally accepts, becoming Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The first time I saw him, I thought he looked like a lion." But here, in this imaginative and powerful novel, Hillary does not accept Bill's third proposal. Devastated, she leaves Arkansas and embarks on a different life. The pair's paths cross again (and again) in the years ahead, causing Hillary to sometimes doubt her decision. I found this to be such an interesting read and oddly hopeful somehow, as if Sittenfeld read my brain and created the world I dreamed of--what a great book to read during these dismal times. It takes a little time to get into the flow of the writing: the first-person narrative certainly places you in the action, but I needed to adjust to switching back and forth between time periods (Hillary's past and present). And, funnily enough, you have to remember that this is and isn't Hillary--the first quarter of the book or so loosely follows Hillary's real life, so sometimes you have to recall who is truly speaking. I am not actually reading a Hillary memoir. I loved how this book rewrites history--and with zero apologies. Bill Clinton does not always come off looking good here, though the love and chemistry between the two is clearly palpable. You find a variety of other characters from real life, so to speak, who sometimes play their actual roles, or re-imagined versions, and it's so fun. And, why yes, even Donald Trump has a place here. What a wonderful place it is, too. If you love politics, or political satire, there's a lot to love here. "'If Bill Clinton was my boyfriend, I'd keep an eye on him too.'" The Hillary of Sittenfeld's world is so real, so true, and so vulnerable and lovable. (And whoa, are there sex scenes, guys.) Even better, Sittenfeld doesn't make her perfect by any stretch; she's flawed and fallible, too. It doesn't take long to see history's actual Hillary taking this path, and sometimes, oh sometimes, I longed for her to do so. Sittenfeld excels at telling a tale from another person's perspective, somehow putting herself in their shoes. I got so caught up in this Hillary's world that I read the last half of the book in one take, desperate to know what happened to her. She felt real to me, and I needed to know how her life turned out. Please, Hillary, let it all work out this time.This book is different, yes. It might not be for everyone, politically. But I found it fascinating to think about such a thing--how the choices we make in life affect so much. Not just saying yes to a marriage proposal, but all the other actions we take on any given day. This is a smartly written book, cementing Sittenfeld as a brilliant writer and storyteller. 4 stars. I received a copy of this novel from Random House and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review; it releases 05/19/2020. You can support indie bookstores and a buy a copy of this novel here.Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb
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  • Lisa Schultz
    January 1, 1970
    Two disclaimers: 1) I am a Hillary fangirl. I have been since 1992. 2) I love fanfiction. Turns out, putting the two things together doesn't work for me. I saw this book and I couldn't wait to read it. And then I started reading it and I wanted to put it down and walk away almost as quickly. I've always found fanfic about real people to be really cringe-worthy, so I guess I should have known better. It's not that the book is bad. If you're comfortable reading a fictional personal account of a li Two disclaimers: 1) I am a Hillary fangirl. I have been since 1992. 2) I love fanfiction. Turns out, putting the two things together doesn't work for me. I saw this book and I couldn't wait to read it. And then I started reading it and I wanted to put it down and walk away almost as quickly. I've always found fanfic about real people to be really cringe-worthy, so I guess I should have known better. It's not that the book is bad. If you're comfortable reading a fictional personal account of a living person, then you might like this book. I just...don't. I always find myself wondering what the person would think if they were reading it and it makes me feel gross. This book was full of those moments. Honestly, it wasn't just the real-life fanfic aspect that made me grimace. As I sit here writing this review, I'm realizing what really turned me off. Somehow, in this alternate reality, Bill Clinton is a more hideous person than Donald Trump. And Hillary, while not perfect in reality, is made to do things to advance her career that are really pretty disgusting...and for no apparent reason. They're written into the timeline, they were the author's choice entirely. Why? Why create huge character flaws? The more I think about this book, the more annoyed I get. So I'll end this review before I knock it down to one star. It had some good moments, but overall? It's a pass from me. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Nerdette Podcast
    January 1, 1970
    Y'ALL. Y'all.
  • Janine
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it! Almost as good as American Wife.
  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    When a politician is as simultaneously admired and vilified as Hillary Rodham Clinton, it becomes very tantalizing to consider the “what ifs.” What if Hillary had said “no” to Bill Clinton’s third marriage proposal and they had gone their separate ways? Could Bill Clinton reach the pinnacle of his ambition if not for Hillary? Indeed, could Hillary herself reach it? Would either of them have ascended to the presidency? Would George W. Bush, Obama or Trump prevail had the Clinton dynamics markedly When a politician is as simultaneously admired and vilified as Hillary Rodham Clinton, it becomes very tantalizing to consider the “what ifs.” What if Hillary had said “no” to Bill Clinton’s third marriage proposal and they had gone their separate ways? Could Bill Clinton reach the pinnacle of his ambition if not for Hillary? Indeed, could Hillary herself reach it? Would either of them have ascended to the presidency? Would George W. Bush, Obama or Trump prevail had the Clinton dynamics markedly shifted?In re-imaging Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life, Curtis Sittenfeld often makes inspired plot choices. It would spoil the fun for me to reveal any of them but suffice to say that Bill surrenders to some of his basest instincts and Trump is, forevermore, just who you’d suspect he is. This novel definitely has a feminist undertone. Hillary’s fierce intelligence and the obstacles she (and other women politicians) must confront regularly are definitely highlighted. Expect to find the “staying home and baking cookies” fiasco in another context and the old tired trope of Hillary-as-lesbian or Hillary-as-frigid-woman as well as a revisionist “lock her up” tactic.part of the puzzle that Ms. Sittenfeld does not address is: how specific are all the attacks to Hillary herself? Ms. Sittenfeld does recognize that part of the problem is a rigidity in Hillary’s approach. There is a particularly strong scene where Hillary goes off script and speaks authentically and this reader particularly yearned for such an outcome in real life. Expect sex scenes – a lot of them – particularly in the early parts of this book. I found these scenes to be particularly anodyne and almost groan-worthy. Ms. Sittenfeld prefers to skate over the psychodynamics of their attraction and spend more time on the lusty feelings, sometimes resorting to clichés (“there’s a gaping hole within me”, for example). Moreover, there are times when the author seems to have difficulty balancing the fact-fiction equation, remaining true to the facts we know and reporting on Hillary’s rise as opposed to leaning towards a recreation of history.My feeling is that the second half of the book – when Curtis Sittenfeld is firmly in fictional territory – is stronger than the first half, when she is more tethered with facts. It helps to have a feminist perspective and a more favorable view of Hillary. It’s a fast, page-turning read that, despite shortfalls, is worth reading. 3.5 stars.
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  • Kellsey Evers
    January 1, 1970
    Note: I received an ARC of this book via NetGallery.I felt this book had real potential, but unfortunately it left me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.The first third of this book was strong and set my expectations pretty high. I thought the characterization of Hillary, Bill, and their initial relationship was engaging and well-developed. However, once their relationship ends and the story diverges from actual history, the story takes a turn for the worse.First of all, I was confused by the Note: I received an ARC of this book via NetGallery.I felt this book had real potential, but unfortunately it left me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied.The first third of this book was strong and set my expectations pretty high. I thought the characterization of Hillary, Bill, and their initial relationship was engaging and well-developed. However, once their relationship ends and the story diverges from actual history, the story takes a turn for the worse.First of all, I was confused by the chapter divides. I understand that the most important and grounded points in the story are the 1970s, 1991, and 2015, but I feel like there are other significant moments between those periods which are crucial to Hillary's personal and career development that are only briefly addressed or skipped over entirely.One would assume that a book that banks itself on "What if Hillary DIDN'T marry Bill?" would have Bill Clinton as a minor character. But no, he's unfortunately a constant presence throughout the book. Of course, he was an important person in Hillary's life, but after their relationship ends, he's just a consistent and unnecessary thorn in her side. Sure, that means there's always conflict, but I think conflict could've been developed in other, less groan-worthy ways.While I think Hillary is well-developed in the first third of the book, she later on becomes more two-dimensional. She's more strategic and career focused, while being sort of ignorant and foolish when it comes to love and personal relationships. The story makes a point to say that when it comes to career vs. family, Hillary has clearly chosen her career and sees no way to find love or make it work (no matter how much she might want to). I found that to be reductive and limiting in terms of her character's potential. Why can't she have both, or at least try to have both?There's an uncomfortable undertone of racism in this story. There are times when Hillary, as a white woman, recognizes her ignorance on such issues, but she also actively uses her privilege to advance her career, even though it severely damages an important friendship. Additionally, while it is not outright said, it is implied that Hillary believes women's rights and empowerment are more important to her than racial equality and empowerment, which is disturbing to say the least.The ending is wish fulfillment at its finest. While I had assumed such an ending was inevitable even before starting the book, that doesn't mean I thought it was fitting. It felt unearned and rushed, just an excuse to end on a positive, pro-women, pro-feminism, etc. note.
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  • Shelby
    January 1, 1970
    What if Hillary and Bill Clinton had never married? In this fictionalized account of her life post-Bill (they date in law school and break up due to his infidelity and satyromania), Hillary Rodham becomes a senator representing Illinois, runs against Bill Clinton (a politician-turned-tech god?) for President of the United States in 2016, and wins with the endorsement of Donald J. Trump. What?!I was really looking forward to the premise of this book, but the structure crumbled as I struggled to What if Hillary and Bill Clinton had never married? In this fictionalized account of her life post-Bill (they date in law school and break up due to his infidelity and satyromania), Hillary Rodham becomes a senator representing Illinois, runs against Bill Clinton (a politician-turned-tech god?) for President of the United States in 2016, and wins with the endorsement of Donald J. Trump. What?!I was really looking forward to the premise of this book, but the structure crumbled as I struggled to finish it. I hoped it would provide readers with a more nuanced look into Hillary's life, which the media failed to give her during her 2016 presidential campaign. But in Rodham, she remains flat and two-dimensional, blatantly (white) feminist to the point of yawning. I also struggled with the sexual nature of this book, and felt uncomfortable and disrespectful when reading about the sexual relations between Hillary and Bill during their five-year (post-)law school romance. The author paints Bill as a sex addict and never lets you forget it. That's all fine, but as Bill and Hillary are still alive and married, I wonder what Hillary would think if she read these passages.In fact, that thought stuck with me through the entirety of this novel. Does Hillary know it's out there? Did the author ask Hillary permission of any kind? What if her family reads it? Perhaps it feels too soon for such a personal, fan-fiction account of Hillary's relationships and what we lost in November of 2016. I'm confident that the author is a Hillary fan and most likely supported her. I write all of this at the risk of sounding prudish, but this book did not hit home in the way I desperately wanted a Hillary Rodham (Clinton) novel to. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoyed Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion.
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    My first response upon finishing this book was, "No words." Followed by, "Wow wow wow."I have no idea how Curtis Sittenfeld did this.Using real-life speeches and public moments to build a story around is hard enough, but it feels like she got access to Bill and Hillary Clinton that of course she didn't. And yet as I was reading this I felt like I was a voyeur into Hillary's life.The first section of the book plays out how you imagine real life must have played, and Sittenfeld does an INCREDIBLE My first response upon finishing this book was, "No words." Followed by, "Wow wow wow."I have no idea how Curtis Sittenfeld did this.Using real-life speeches and public moments to build a story around is hard enough, but it feels like she got access to Bill and Hillary Clinton that of course she didn't. And yet as I was reading this I felt like I was a voyeur into Hillary's life.The first section of the book plays out how you imagine real life must have played, and Sittenfeld does an INCREDIBLE job showing just how compelling Bill Clinton is, and yet how someone with that charisma would fall for the intellect, the ambition, the personality of Hillary Rodham. It feels so real. You understand how these two people married in real life, and you understand what's kept them together all these years. It's a marriage of minds and personality. I am floored by Sittenfeld in this section.And then she goes and has Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton break up at what would have been a real-life turning point in their relationship, and the way those two paths diverge is fascinating and compelling and honest and intelligent and all the things. The way that Sittenfeld ties in real-life events is so deft and believable. The way that Donald Trump becomes a character in the book is gross and understandable and icky and yet he doesn't come off nearly as bad as Bill Clinton. I love the conflating of the two. I love that Hillary Rodham still faces a lot of the setbacks and gains that Hillary Clinton did. I kept being sucker punched by moments throughout this book, in a way that I would never have expected.I loved this and I want to talk to someone about it so go read it and then let's chat.
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  • Lindsay Sproul
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, Curtis Sittenfeld. You do not disappoint. Reminiscent of American Wife (one of my favorite novels of all time), this book is so much more than fan fiction. What always amazes me about Sittenfeld's work, especially when she creates storylines around "characters" we are familiar with, is her ability to imagine the fictional emotional landscapes surrounding real people and real events. From the very beginning, this novel takes us into the spaces in Hillary's mind where she is most vulnerable, a Oh, Curtis Sittenfeld. You do not disappoint. Reminiscent of American Wife (one of my favorite novels of all time), this book is so much more than fan fiction. What always amazes me about Sittenfeld's work, especially when she creates storylines around "characters" we are familiar with, is her ability to imagine the fictional emotional landscapes surrounding real people and real events. From the very beginning, this novel takes us into the spaces in Hillary's mind where she is most vulnerable, and gives us a glimpse into how she sees herself (especially in the ways that the public never could). While I didn't think this novel was quite the masterpiece American Wife is, I love the way the plot takes off when Hillary's storyline in the novel departs from the narrative she followed IRL. I love how she examines herself over and over, and the glimpses we get into her past. This book is a quick read that is fun, human and honest. I can't wait until it hits the shelves!This review is based on an advanced proof from the publisher.
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  • Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Random House for my free review copy, all opinions are my own.It's hard to classify my feelings on this book. For the first 40%, I was incredibly annoyed. The focus was so enveloped by Bill's character that Hillary's didn't have space to develop. The second half of the book redeemed itself somewhat, because Hillary was able to come into her own. But still, so much of her time was spent talking and thinking about, or reacting to, Bill. And if it wasn't Bill, there was another man pre Thank you to Random House for my free review copy, all opinions are my own.It's hard to classify my feelings on this book. For the first 40%, I was incredibly annoyed. The focus was so enveloped by Bill's character that Hillary's didn't have space to develop. The second half of the book redeemed itself somewhat, because Hillary was able to come into her own. But still, so much of her time was spent talking and thinking about, or reacting to, Bill. And if it wasn't Bill, there was another man preoccupying her time. This book made me wistful for a time when I really thought that Hillary would be our first woman president, but I don't think this portrayal did her justice. She seemed so...calculating. Almost like her internal monologue was still written as the polished politician. I was hoping that Sittenfeld would bring more of her personality forward in this, but I didn't feel that connection to her character. And although I found this compulsively readable (I needed to know what would happen, and finished the book in 24 hours), it wasn't what I was hoping for from one of my most anticipated reads of the year. That being said, I'm sure this will be popular this year, and I can see why. I still liked the book and would recommend it to other readers who are similarly interested in politics and in the what-if's of Hillary's career, I just didn't adore it in the way that I expected.
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  • Veronica
    January 1, 1970
    Woooow this was a trip – both hilariously far-fetched, and a frighteningly acute commentary on contemporary politics. I don't want to spoil anything, because every plot point that unspools after Hillary's fateful choice not to marry Bill is deliciously surprising. Rodham would be a cooked fan-ficcy concept if Curtis weren't such a confident, enthralling writer. Anyone who's vaguely interested in reading this based on the premise won't be disappointed.
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    In changing the history of the last thirty years, Sittenfeld created a new political world to imagine in Rodham. The reader gets to see what the world would look like if one historical figure never married another. Without that marriage, how would all the events we have experienced be different? This mix of make-believe and real life make this book strange but unforgettable.In this “other timeline”, Hillary Clinton never marries Bill. She dates Bill, and she falls in love with Bill; she almost m In changing the history of the last thirty years, Sittenfeld created a new political world to imagine in Rodham. The reader gets to see what the world would look like if one historical figure never married another. Without that marriage, how would all the events we have experienced be different? This mix of make-believe and real life make this book strange but unforgettable.In this “other timeline”, Hillary Clinton never marries Bill. She dates Bill, and she falls in love with Bill; she almost marries Bill, but she doesn’t. Instead, she has a political career based on her aspirations, rather than following on the heels of Bill.When playing in the world of “what if” there are many different directions Rodham could have taken Hillary. I was excited by the prospects, especially the idea of Hillary as a Supreme Court justice. I was hoping we would quickly move quickly beyond Bill and into the realm of political aspirations and workaholism. I was disappointed at how much Bill remains central to this story. I was a little disappointed we had to return to the 2016 elections and the mention of Donald Trump. There was also too much of Hillary’s sex life which made me feel like I was reading fan fiction at times.Overall, this book is a great exploration of single womanhood. I loved the characterization of Hillary and the secondary characters. As a piece of fiction, it’s interesting. Don’t compare this to the real Hillary Clinton. Treat it as fiction and it’ll be strange, but fun.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    Preordered this so hard.
  • Gisselle Diaz (gissellereads)
    January 1, 1970
    This book will be very polarizing! Some people will love it and some will hate it. I think it would be a great book club pick and one that will encourage lots of discussion. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn’t wait to find out how it ended!⁣I was completely invested in the story and really enjoyed the re-imagining not only of what Hillary’s life would look like but the results in our elections. Would we have had a female president elected? You’ll have to read to find out!⁣If you dislike This book will be very polarizing! Some people will love it and some will hate it. I think it would be a great book club pick and one that will encourage lots of discussion. I was hooked from the beginning and couldn’t wait to find out how it ended!⁣I was completely invested in the story and really enjoyed the re-imagining not only of what Hillary’s life would look like but the results in our elections. Would we have had a female president elected? You’ll have to read to find out!⁣If you dislike Hillary Clinton this book is not for you. The book is told from Hillary’s point of view and also at times it was quite steamy. I appreciated that Sittenfeld had Hillary make some questionable choices at times, however I know Hillary haters will not like this book so in that case don’t read it.⁣I enjoyed the book’s take on Female ambition, marriage, the compromises women have to make and our political climate. It had been a while since I had highlighted so many passages in a book!⁣ I found myself googling a lot of things to see if they were actually true (since parts of the book are based on real life events). Overall I think this was a very entertaining and thought provoking book!
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  • Cassidy
    January 1, 1970
    BOOM. Basically professional fan fiction, Rodham was SUCH an entertaining read. I had to constantly remind myself this did not actually happen to HRC. The writing and plot were gripping and interesting, without being too political. I highly recommend watching her doc on Netflix before reading, as I found it was super helpful to distinguish what situations mirrored HRC in real life. I stand by my opinion that if I was Hillary I would be pissed. This premise kinda seems like a slap to the face, bu BOOM. Basically professional fan fiction, Rodham was SUCH an entertaining read. I had to constantly remind myself this did not actually happen to HRC. The writing and plot were gripping and interesting, without being too political. I highly recommend watching her doc on Netflix before reading, as I found it was super helpful to distinguish what situations mirrored HRC in real life. I stand by my opinion that if I was Hillary I would be pissed. This premise kinda seems like a slap to the face, but what can ya do???? It’s a free country??? #imwithher
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  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    WOW. JUST WOW. what might have been... I know this book is going to be controversial, and probably passionately discussed and debated. Here are my thoughts....Without giving away too much, Rodham: a Novel is the story of how Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham met in law school, and what would have been had they not married.📚What I Appreciated About this Book: I found this book to be brilliantly written, full of so much research and care. Hillary comes across as a pro-women, passionate about her car WOW. JUST WOW. what might have been... I know this book is going to be controversial, and probably passionately discussed and debated. Here are my thoughts....Without giving away too much, Rodham: a Novel is the story of how Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham met in law school, and what would have been had they not married.📚What I Appreciated About this Book: I found this book to be brilliantly written, full of so much research and care. Hillary comes across as a pro-women, passionate about her career, and a human. I loved how Sittenfeld illustrated what Rodham's life looked like as a normal post-college-aged women. She had wants, desires, feelings. For most of this section, I forgot that "Hillary" was Hillary Rodham, and not just another young woman falling in love. I also loved the first-hand view into what running for president, or a high level position, feels like from their perspective. I was fascinated by the details, and the maneuvers that the candidate must make.📚What Did Not Work For Me: The only part of the book that lagged for me was about midway through the book before Hillary decides to pursue a campaign. There was a small section that was a bit slow there for me. Overall, this book blew me away. I honestly haven't felt this way about a book in so long; I couldn't stop thinking about this book, dreaming about it, talking about, laughing in my head about passages. It covers a huge range of Hillary's life, and I loved experiencing first love with her, careers highs, and the realities of becoming older as a woman in this society. I could go on and on... A blazing hot 5 stars.
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  • Catherine
    January 1, 1970
    I was so excited to find out Curtis Sittenfeld had a new novel due out this year; I have been a fan since reading ‘Prep’ in 2005. When I found out it was a fictionalization of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life, maybe somewhat similar to Laura Bush in ‘American Wife’ I freeeeeaked out. Maybe I should have prefaced this review with a disclaimer that I’m a longtime Hillary fan. 😆 Really though, a novel about what might have been if Hillary had broken it off with Bill? What she might have made out of he I was so excited to find out Curtis Sittenfeld had a new novel due out this year; I have been a fan since reading ‘Prep’ in 2005. When I found out it was a fictionalization of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life, maybe somewhat similar to Laura Bush in ‘American Wife’ I freeeeeaked out. Maybe I should have prefaced this review with a disclaimer that I’m a longtime Hillary fan. 😆 Really though, a novel about what might have been if Hillary had broken it off with Bill? What she might have made out of her life on her own? SIGN ME UP. I really loved this book, and it was an emotional read for me. Besides the homesickness brought on by all the mentions of locations in my home state that I’m familiar with, I recognized myself in this fictionalized Hillary too. I’ve also always been “opinionated for a girl.” While I don’t have a shred of the drive or ambition that HRC has, I admire it so much in her...I think Sittenfeld did a great job exploring what might have been. This comes out in May 2020, be in the lookout!! 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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  • Esther King
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fascinating read, really hard to put down, and it was absolutely riveting. At the same time, I’m aware some people won’t enjoy it as it does break the ‘talking about live human beings as though you’re in their head’ rule that some hold very close. I prefer to think of this more as an alternative timeline- it makes it more palatable and a little more detached from our world.This book follows the journey of Hilary Rodham if she’d not married Bill Clinton and instead decided to go it alo This was a fascinating read, really hard to put down, and it was absolutely riveting. At the same time, I’m aware some people won’t enjoy it as it does break the ‘talking about live human beings as though you’re in their head’ rule that some hold very close. I prefer to think of this more as an alternative timeline- it makes it more palatable and a little more detached from our world.This book follows the journey of Hilary Rodham if she’d not married Bill Clinton and instead decided to go it alone in her political career. The ins and outs of their law school relationship I found fascinating and bitingly realistic- a young woman who knows that the man she’s with isn’t quite right and he’s doing some shady stuff on the side, but she doesn’t know how to confront it. There’s a powerful message in showing that even a woman as intelligent as Hilary is can get sucked into the orbit of men who are less than scrupulous. The big diversion is where she makes her choice to leave him and instead go it alone. She doesn’t get a love of her life, but I still find that better than a politically arranged marriage with someone you would, at best, struggle to love at this point. She focuses her ambition on her work, and eventually on politics, and I really love what was done there. It turned the narrative on its head and made it okay to be vulnerable whilst also being strong, and heeded a lot of the nastier sides of Bill.I found the inclusion of dear old Donald (read as sarcasm- he is not dear, and someone with the mental faculties of my left big toenail could hardly be deemed as old as old implies life experience) interesting too. What he did with Hilary was plausible in a sense. I could very well see him tweeting things like he did in this book, but simultaneously, I query whether a. Hilary would have sold her soul for his endorsement and b. If the man could ever endorse a woman- legitimately- without baulking. I doubt it somehow. My one thing I wish I could change would be a little more fleshing out of the re-election of Bush Sr, the lack of election of Bush Jr, and just seeing where all those administrations ended up. It would’ve changed the landscape of the world as we know it, I think, so it’s a little weird to assume that things would be the same with little difference. In all, a really interesting exploration of a story we will never see, and some great discourse on American politics as well as feminism (I do wish that intersectionality came a little more into it, but it is Hilary, so the lack of it makes some sense’) as well as who women are when not held back by those who forward their own goals. Realistically though? Sometimes I’m unsure that America will ever elect a woman. And that reality is perhaps one of the harshest ones.
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  • Katie Mac
    January 1, 1970
    I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This is a book that will cause backlash and make a lot of people upset, and I am here for it.I had no idea how much truth Curtis Sittenfeld was going to include in this, and I think she balanced it really well. She has a sort of detached way of writing about her characters that often prevents the reader from getting too deep in the minds of her characters, and it works here. She doesn't try to pretend like she's the I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This is a book that will cause backlash and make a lot of people upset, and I am here for it.I had no idea how much truth Curtis Sittenfeld was going to include in this, and I think she balanced it really well. She has a sort of detached way of writing about her characters that often prevents the reader from getting too deep in the minds of her characters, and it works here. She doesn't try to pretend like she's the only one who can detail Hillary's personality, as if she's mindful that she's a real-life person. Ultimately, I think I preferred the first part of the book to the second, but the second part definitely kept me on my toes; I had no idea how it was all going to work out in the end. Overall, it's both a disturbing and comforting read in these crazy times.
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  • Lauren McKeon Jenkins
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a while to fully immerse myself into this book. Much of it reads the way a memoir about campaigning might, like from Hillary Clinton herself. But, obviously it is not.I admire Curtis Sittenfeld’s work and I was SO excited to get access to this ARC. While it didn't sweep me away as quickly as some of her other novels have, I really did love it.At a certain point in the book, I was fascinated by the idea of an alternate reality where Hillary is running against Bill Clinton (who she neve It took me a while to fully immerse myself into this book. Much of it reads the way a memoir about campaigning might, like from Hillary Clinton herself. But, obviously it is not.I admire Curtis Sittenfeld’s work and I was SO excited to get access to this ARC. While it didn't sweep me away as quickly as some of her other novels have, I really did love it.At a certain point in the book, I was fascinated by the idea of an alternate reality where Hillary is running against Bill Clinton (who she never married) and would try to convince Donald Trump to run as well in order to dilute support for Bill. I wasn't sure that was where the author was headed with exactly, but the idea that she could have been responsible for our current nightmare, well damn! You'll have to read to see how it played out.I recommend!
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  • Pam
    January 1, 1970
    I got an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Sittenfeld fans will not be disappointed... Similar to American Wife, she's done what appears to have been a TON of research to create a believable, multi-faceted protagonist. She's also rewritten history, but if there's anyone who is up to the task, it's Sittenfeld (if you haven't read Eligible, her modern take on Pride and Prejudice, do this ASAP).The book explores gender, power, privilege, and race with dialogue th I got an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Sittenfeld fans will not be disappointed... Similar to American Wife, she's done what appears to have been a TON of research to create a believable, multi-faceted protagonist. She's also rewritten history, but if there's anyone who is up to the task, it's Sittenfeld (if you haven't read Eligible, her modern take on Pride and Prejudice, do this ASAP).The book explores gender, power, privilege, and race with dialogue that's realistic and at times hilarious. I couldn't put this one down.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    When life turns on its end and you "have nothing to do", superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOLI requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.From the New York Times bestselling author of When life turns on its end and you "have nothing to do", superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOLI requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.From the New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Eligible, a novel that imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton? In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton. But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life. Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterizes the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel.This novel is incendiary ... and I love that about it. It is such an interesting slant on the whole "Bill and Hill" story that will make feminists, Democrats and republicans lose their 💩. It is a bit of a fan letter to RHC at times, but it is excellently crafted and written and decidedly something to read and discuss among friends, strangers on planes, people in waiting rooms, and just about anywhere. Just be prepared for heated discussions bordering on arguments as this bok was written to 🚽 people off. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
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