By Curtis Sittenfeld
Rated: 4 star****
This book and the angle it was taking had grabbed my attention, I think the themes throughout it will grab many other people’s attention too. I’d like to thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me and to Izzie at Penguin Random House for supplying me with an e-copy of the book. The hardback is available from 9th July.
About the Author:
In addition to Rodham, Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller American Wife, in which she painted a picture of an ordinary American girl – a thinly disguised Laura Bush – who found herself married to a President. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep. Her other books are Man of My Dreams, Sisterland (a Richard & Judy Book Club pick), Eligible, and the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It.
Her books are translated into 30 languages.
She lives with her family in the American Mid-West.
‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus.Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm ‘No’.
The rest, as they say, isn’t history. How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?
With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men. Uncannily astute and witty in the telling, RODHAM is a brilliant reimagining – an unmissable literary landmark and truly a novel of ourtimes.
“This book is a bombshell… Sittenfeld writes women better than anybody else” Bryan Appleyard, SUNDAY TIMES
“This addictive novel is the Sliding Doors of American politics. Gripping” STYLIST
“A wonderful, sad dream of what might have happened” Anne Enright, GUARDIAN
“Hugely enjoyable… a delight” OBSERVER, Book of the Week
What might have happened if life events for Hillary Rodham, nee Clinton were different? It’s a thought and one that Curtis Sittenfeld has had and wrote about her vision. One thing that went through my mind was what Hillary and Bill thought of it…
Set in the 1970’s at Yale Law School, Hillary Rodham is trying to decide how she should style herself, what hair-do to have etc and she has some feistyness about her. It’s where she meets Bill Clinton. This is a book that tells a story about the Clintons in their younger years. It’s a re-imagining of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The novel reads very well. It’s not at all as heavy going as you might expect. This is most definitely a plus point. Is it odd reading a re-imagining of someone’s life? To be truthful, a bit, but all the same, this is better than what I thought it was going to be. I had gotten somewhat intrigued by it when I was invited on the blog tour and intrigue soon turned into a kind of enjoyment.
There’s already ambition in Bill to become President from near the start. It’s a bit of a love story with that first look of young lust and youthfulness. It is all rather fun and reads with a certain ease in the air. The romance throughout this part is intense and well-written.
There’s an interesting thing that happens on a bus, which demonstrates different races living in different areas and not really living like a few whites and a few Mexicans etc in the same area as each other (not that I’m getting into politics, it’s just a part that really stood out for me).
There’s some light humour in the first part of the book. I like the tone how it shows a lighter side to life and also a deeper side, such as when Hillary is looking into cases, that are a definite contrast to the rich and wealthy at Yale to those who are scraping by and those with medical conditions and more…
Readers are later taken to 1991. Politics is tense, Bush is around and Bill Clinton wants to take Professor Rodham (Hillary) with him to campaign for presidency. Bill and Hillary’s earlier romance had broken off as Bill went off with another woman. There’s some emotion, I don’t mean sad emotion there, more matter-of-fact in a way. It’s written well, it isn’t harsh or anything like that, it’s saying how it is.
Time moves forward further and there is an interesting list of president and vice-presidents. There is also a taste of the atmosphere around rallies and also some of the bigger issues being questioned that were on-topic at the time, such as Aids. Although this is a re-imagining, there is some reality throughout it, about what was going on and what people were caring about most at the time. The author has also show some of Hillary’s connections with charities and, as with the majority of the book, it demonstrates this human connection. The author is certainly trying to paint Hillary Clinton as she became in as positive light as possible. As time moves onwards to the millenium years, there’s tension that mounts and can be felt in the writing. The writer also goes into Hillary dropping out of the rallies early (Barack Obama then succeeded and went all the way to being President). The relationship with Bill and how she now views Bill (remember this is a reimagining) is an interesting way of looking at things. The book goes right up to practically the present and Donald Trump and what he says about Hillary Rodham.
The conclusion is strong and is actually quite profound. If you enjoy some romance, a reimagining of a life-story and a bit of interest in American politics, or even romance (there’s plenty of it), then this, I recommend for you. It is well-told and got strong writing.