Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld was such a pleasant surprise. I didn’t have any expectations picking up this book, it was more a spur of the moment. But it was so good! And so funny!
Rodham is a creative re-imagining of what the Clintons are and what they could be in an alternate universe, telling the story of what would have happened to Hillary Rodham if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton. It’s written in such an inspired, light and amusing way that it completely draws you in. You don’t have to know much about politics or be a fan of Hillary Clinton or anything to enjoy this book. It’s not at all as political as you could have expected, and it sure does not shy away from criticizing or making fun of well-known persons like the Clintons, their friends and even Donald Trump, to showcase Hillary as a human being. She’s portrayed as a woman who is very clever and intelligent, but also as someone who makes mistakes, regrets them, tries to move on and who longs to be loved for who she is.
“I don’t know if this sounds pathetic or conceited,” I said. “But I always hoped a man would fall in love with me for my brain.”
Phyllis’s voice was kind when she said, “Hillary, no man falls in love with a woman’s brain.”
Even though this book is about how much better off Hillary would have been professionally without Bill, it is in no way idolizing or glorifying her. There are plenty of harsh descriptions of Hillary as a problematic figure (in both this reality and the alternative reality in the book), showing problems with racism, sexism and a naïve take on complex issues and it doesn’t try to blame Bill for all of it, as could have been expected. (Bill Clinton is described in a very negative way though as a sex addict and scrupulous womanizer with shady moral standards...)
All in all, this is a reflective and insightful imagination that highlights sexism and how far from equality we still are. It’s both an enjoyable, easy and funny read, and a book that hopefully will make it easier for the next woman to become the first female president. I really recommend it!
“Top-of-game alone. Sure. At times, I feel lonely because there’s only one of me. But the plus side is… there’s only one of me. I was born with special abilities, special creativity, and if it was 1850, I’d be out of luck. But it’s 1997, and the sky’s the limit. I can do it, and I am doing it.”
Find out more about the book and the author here: Curtis Sittenfeld