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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

What if Hillary Rodham had turned down Bill Clinton's proposal of marriage?

‘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 our times.

©2020 Curtis Sittenfeld (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Startlingly good. One of my favourite writers." (Kate Atkinson) 

What listeners say about Rodham

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fanciful re-imagining is "Hillarious" fun

This book re-tells the life story of Hillary Rodham based on fact up a "Sliding Doors" moment in 1975 when, instead of marrying Bill Clinton she decides to make her own way in politics. The story is written in the first person and we hear of Hillary's early life where is a confident and self opinionated nine year old from Chicago.

At Yale where she is the brightest year in her year she meets Bill Clinton for the first time and is lured by his water melons. Although Bill is not her first lover she falls for him despite his philandering even in these early years. "Male urges have made a fool of me" says Bill as he is caught by Hillary with yet another woman.

The majority of men run for power because they want to, the majority of women run because someone suggests they should. In the re-imagined story, Hillary takes several years to reach her potential driven by a wish to talk truth to power.

In the somewhat fanciful re-telling of the Hillary story, she runs against Bill Clinton for the Democrat nomination and, as you would expect by now, wins following an endorsement from, of all people Donald Trump. We are entering the world of complete fantasy as Hillary Rodham (she never marries) becomes the first woman President of the United States beating Jed Bush. Some of the imagined "facts" are hilarious, eg Hillary's 23 minute acceptance speech and a strange episode where she asks one of her advisers to shave her legs in the back of a car.

It is no surprise that a book of this type has been published in the year of the US Presidential elections. Apparently the author has penned a similar story based on First Lady Bush. Although strange, it is more entertaining that I expected.

7 people found this helpful

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Felt authentic and written with love

Brilliantly narrated. As for the writing, I felt I really got to know and like and care for Hillary. Made me think about equality and privilege.

4 people found this helpful

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A very good listen

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It’s based on ‘what if?’ but contains more than enough facts to navigate us through different events. As a novel, it works really well, and it’s read with warmth and personality.

4 people found this helpful

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  • AM
  • 27-05-21

One of the Best Books I've Listened to for Years

This is a wonderful, wonderful novel. The poignancy of the life not lived is so perfect, and the history that so nearly might have been you can almost taste it. Brilliant clever and what a shame for Hillary. If only everyone had read this before the election she lost to Trump, I think she'd have won. Fabulous.

1 person found this helpful

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Smart and compelling

Initially I thought what a strange idea to fictionalise an alternative narrative for real, living characters but this is very cleverly done. I loved this book. Hillary is likeable because she is so intelligently aware of how she is perceived as a disarmingly intelligent and honest. As in American Wife, the narrator is compassionately self-aware and compellingly reflective. Curtis Sittenfeld is a great writer whose creative imagination and no-nonsense style are hugely appealing.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

Had to keep reminding myself this was fiction and not an autobiography, so detailed! Imagination fabulous!

1 person found this helpful

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Mesmerising - loved it

I devoured this book in days (and For almost of that I was looking after demanding kids in lockdown). I couldn’t stop listening and several scenes were jaw dropping. One time I actually was listening at work and gasped out loud so shocking was the story.

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Rushed the ending

Great book, a bit too much sex at the start and then fast forwarded the ending. Who doesn’t love election night?

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Very enjoyable and excellent story

Absolutely brilliant story - and of course I wish it were true. I’m an admirer of this author and think her stories are realistic and very well told, I feel like my brain has been expanded: also I Love the endless anecdotes and personal ideas. I recommend this book to all women.

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Loved it when I did not expect to!

I ended up engrossed in the book when I really didn’t expect to.

The story was so interesting throughout. It was strange to here fiction about real people, but enjoyable all the same!