Rodham is a truly fascinating book. I must be honest and admit that I am not someone who knows a tremendous amount about the American political system beyond some very broad brushstrokes. My knowledge of Bill and Hillary Clinton is also fairly limited. I remember the great excitement around Bill Clinton’s visit to Belfast back in 1998 when I was at school and of course the Lewinsky scandal. More recently I am aware of the controversies of Hillary’s 2016 US election campaign but most definitely not the finer details. I don’t think it matters how much you do or don’t know about the Clintons before reading Rodham, you could never have heard of them, although that seems unlikely, and would still enjoy reading this book.
Rodham is split into three sections. The first outlines Hillary’s college years and her relationship with the young charming Bill. We see how they meet and make plans for the future, with Hillary changing her life to suit his ambitions. Nonetheless, they seem to be in love until it all falls apart and they split. In part two we meet Hillary as a law professor as thinks about running for senator and in the third we follow her into almost the current day and what might have been.
Although not the primary goal of this book, it is both interesting and frustrating to read about the additional challenges faced by Hillary simply for having the XX arrangement of chromosomes! She is told that she will not be loved for her mind and needs to flirt more rather than cultivate relationships based on interests if she is to be seen as a potential girlfriend. She receives scathing feedback from a student about the feminist element of one of her courses for daring to include aspects of women’s rights within the curriculum. Later when she considers running for senator, when another woman throws her hat in the ring first, doubt is cast as to whether Hillary also running would be in good taste yet men never seem to have these concerns. In some ways she can come across as quite clinical and perhaps cold and this may stem from her upbringing. Her father was stern and comes across as incredibly critical, demanding and in some ways almost unloving.
I’ve really enjoyed reading Rodham – although a blend of fact and fiction, it has given me a greater insight into the runnings of the American political system and how a lot of success can come from hard work but without having the right face and connections, some challenges can be insurmountable. I think Curtis has a wonderful style of writing and I am very keen to read American Wife having now read Rodham.
About Curtis Sittenfeld:
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.
Thank you to Curtis, Doubleday and Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blog tour. And thank you also for the gorgeous tote bag I received for taking part.