Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

early photo of Hillary RodhamRodham (2020) by Curtis Sittenfeld is the author’s newest offering, a counter factual novel based around the idea that Hillary and Bill Clinton never married. Initially, the book covers Hillary’s early years at Wellesley and Yale. Much of this is known to Americans and not a surprise. I felt uneasy with the first person narrative and whether or not the events were reported accurately. But once Hillary left Bill in Arkansas and the book deviated from reality, the drama noticeably increased for me. Hillary becomes a law professor and Senator (but not from New York), dealing non-stop with double standards for women politicians. All this comes into sharp contrast when Hillary runs against Bill for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential race and wins. As Hillary goes on to become the first woman president of the US, her accomplishments, sacrifices and deal-making, both real and imagined, are on full display. A big book but a fast read after the first third.

Since this is inherently a political tale, enjoy this Washington Post podcast about the book.  People who enjoy this book would also love Sittenfeld’s other novel, American Wife, based loosely on Laura Bush. Listen to this podcast in which Sittenfeld discusses how and why she writes about living political figures. Other counterfactual novels to try include The Man in the High Castle, The Plot Against America, and 11/22/63.