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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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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.

3 people found this helpful

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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.

3 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.

3 people found this helpful

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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?

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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Witty, thought provoking and addictive!

I really loved this book. Sittenfeld captures her character Hillary's growth from a brilliant, idealistic, deeply moral law student into an astute mature politician so well. The book has lots of delicious brushes with modern events and characters (e.g. Trump) while also imagining a wholly new and fascinating story - lots of great inside looks at political life too. The narration was also really excellent and added a lot to the whole listening experience. I've recommended to several people already!

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One of my favourite books this year

Ive been hooked to this book since starting. It will make you laugh out loud and also seethe, as you wish this reality were the real one. I loved the narration, with voices and accents adding a fabulous touch to the whole thing.

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UTTER RUBBISH

I tried and tried again because the name attracted me. Then I stopped. This is an awful book

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Brilliant

I loved every minute of this book and the narrator was absolutely superb. I am really going to miss the escapism of the story and the mellifluous tones of the narrator. I read it at the time that Donald Trump was lying to the American people about COVID-19 and of course it made me wish with all my heart that this book was an autobiography! The research, the depth of knowledge, the witticism and the inspiration of this book is wonderful. I feel quite bereft now I have finished it and truly hope the upcoming elections deliver a change in direction away from the Trump ugliness that the world is seeing in the USA

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Exceptional

The best book I have read this year. Truly magnificent. Her best so far in a sterling collection.