Rodham: A Novel (Paperback)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of American Wife and Eligible . . . He proposed. She said no. And it changed her life forever.
“A deviously clever what if.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Immersive, escapist.”—Good Morning America
“Ingenious.”—The New York Times
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker • NPR • The Washington Post • Marie Claire • Cosmopolitan (UK) • Town & Country • New York Post
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.
About the Author
Curtis Sittenfeld is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, Sisterland, and Eligible, and the story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It, which have been translated into thirty languages. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post Magazine, Esquire, and The Best American Short Stories, of which she was the 2020 guest editor. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, and Vanity Fair, and on public radio’s This American Life.
“[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.”—The Washington Post
“[A] moving, morally suggestive, technically brilliant book that made me think more than any other in recent memory about the aims and limits of fiction . . . By fanning out alternate narratives . . . [Rodham] asks us to imagine a different world. . . . And from there, what a short —excruciating, hopeful—leap it is to: Everything could be different.”—NPR
“Sittenfeld at her best.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Gritty, gripping.”—Chicago Tribune
“Deviously clever . . . [Rodham] doesn’t have an overt political agenda; it’s less concerned with lionizing or vilifying Hillary than with complicating our notions of her. Sittenfeld’s Hillary is both a player in the Game of Thrones and a romance novel heroine. . . . She’s whoever she wants to be.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Delectably discussable, a book tailor-made for book clubs.”—USA Today
“A stay-up-all-night plot . . . a captivating and durable story containing rooms within rooms. Rodham turns into a high-speed bildungsroman about a woman of formidable intellect and self-insight. . . . It’s both an enticement and a challenge.” —Los Angeles Times
“A wild, witty, provocative mishmash of history, real and imagined.”—People
“Sittenfeld movingly captures Hillary’s awareness of her transformation into a complicated public figure. . . . Often funny, mostly sympathetic, and always sharp.”—Publishers Weekly
“Daring, seductive, and provocative . . . [an] exhilaratingly trenchant, funny, and affecting tale . . . Sittenfeld orchestrates a gloriously cathartic antidote to the actual struggles women presidential candidates face in a caustically divided America.”—Booklist
“It’s enjoyable to hear [this Hilary] think about her own desires, her strengths and weaknesses, her vulnerabilities and self-justifications; it’s also fun to see how familiar events would still occur under different circumstances.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Startlingly good . . . Sittenfeld is one of my favorite writers.”—Kate Atkinson, author of Big Sky
“Rodham is a provocative, bitingly funny re-imagining of what a woman’s life could be if she didn’t need to compromise her own ambitions in support of her partner’s. Sittenfeld has written a nuanced, astute portrait of one of modern history’s most contentious figures, and never shies away from either the thornier aspects of her character, or those of our society.”—Refinery29
“Rodham is the ultimate what-could-have-been story.”—HelloGiggles