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75. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

What if Hillary hadn’t married Bill? That’s the attention-grabbing hook of Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest novel, Rodham, which duly sent it soaring into the bestseller charts.

In real life, Bill Clinton asked Hillary Rodham to marry him three times before she finally said yes. The rest is history. But in Sittenfeld’s alternative world, Hillary says no, and their lives diverge from there. Hillary is alone and heartbroken, but she’s also free to pursue her own political ambitions – and free from the humiliating sexual scandals that will plague Bill’s political career.

Sittenfeld deftly mines the ‘What if?” possibilities of her premise, but does the novel live up to the hype? Or is it just literary fan fiction? An exercise in wishful thinking?

Journalist Phil Chaffee joins us to give Rodham the full book club treatment. It’s a no holds barred discussion as we try to figure out whether the novel is an ingenious yet plausible glimpse of an alternative reality, or just a writer capitalising on a famous name.

Book recommendations

After the discussion, keep listening for our follow-on recommendations for your next book club book, all inspired by Rodham.

Other books mentioned

Notes

Highly recommended viewing is Hulu’s 4-part documentary on Hillary Clinton, that aired in the UK on Sky.

 

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