by Curtis Sittenfeld
One of the most famous (or infamous, depending on your political leanings) people today is Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is the wife of former President Bill Clinton, and many people might say that is part of the reason for her failed presidential bid in 2016. Now imagine a world in which Hillary Rodham never marries smooth-talking Bill Clinton. Curtis Sittenfeld explores this alternative view of history in her novel entitled Rodham.
Hillary Rodham has never been your stereotypical female. Her friend’s father says, “You’re awfully opinionated for a girl.” Hillary would have to agree. She wasn’t afraid to run for student council in high school, and she is not afraid to ruffle some feathers in the male-dominated world of Yale Law. Despite trying to focus on school, Hillary can’t help but notice a young man named Bill Clinton. She describes him as a handsome lion that seemed full of himself in a way that canceled out his handsomeness. The two hit it off and end up dating, but Hillary eventually decides that her relationship with Bill is over. Hillary Rodham will never become Hillary Clinton. Don’t worry. This won’t be the last time their paths cross.
Bill Clinton is not elected in 1992 after stories of sexual misconduct come to the surface. Hillary becomes senator and is finally convinced to run for President of the United States. Her path is foiled by Barack Obama, and her chance to be President is denied. 2016 will be different. The 2016 election is her time to shine. There is really only one person standing in her way, and he hales from the state of Arkansas. Her opposition in the Democratic Party is none other than Bill Clinton himself. Will Hillary Rodham become the first female President of the United States? Or will she be derailed by the man she washed her hands of years ago? You will have to read this interesting novel to find out.
My thoughts: I think this is a book that you can enjoy no matter what political party you endorse. You might say, “I wish it had been like this,” or you might say, “Thank God that it didn’t turn out this way.” I found myself wondering how much of the information in this novel was true and how much was fabricated. If Hillary had not been married to Bill Clinton, would her path to the presidency have been successful? We obviously cannot answer these questions with certainty, but it is interesting to think how different our world might look (for better or worse) if one pivotal moment in the lives of two individuals had changed. We don’t have a DeLorean, and we don’t have enough road to hit 88, so we will never know.
Ricky Statham is director at Oneonta Public Library. Visit the library Monday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., to check out this or another great book.