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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

From the author of American Wife and Eligible.... 

He proposed. She said no. And it changed her life forever.

"Deviously clever.... Sittenfeld's Hillary is both a player in the Game of Thrones and a romance novel heroine. She's a brilliant badass who has found her voice and knows how to use it. She's whoever she wants to be." (O, The Oprah Magazine)

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by:

  • The New Yorker
  • NPR
  • The Washington Post
  • Marie Claire
  • Cosmopolitan (UK)
  • Town & Country
  • New York Post

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Life magazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she's attending Yale Law School, and she's on the forefront of student activism and the women's rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic Southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. 

In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton. But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. 

Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail - one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life. 

Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterize the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel. 

©2020 Curtis Sittenfeld (P)2020 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“[Curtis] Sittenfeld is a clear thinker, a canny observer, and a solid, graceful stylist.” (The Washington Post Book World)

 “Whatever [Sittenfeld] writes, we’ll read it.” (People

“[Sittenfeld] is a skilled storyteller. [She] delivers a well-told, compelling story about characters so real they settle into your psyche like old friends.” (Associated Press)

“Sittenfeld makes writing lively and diverting fiction look easy.” (Chicago Tribune

What listeners say about Rodham

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting

First of all - I must say that I find Hillary Clinton fascinating as a human being. The fact that she is so universally panned, so polarizing, so CONSUMED by the media that it is like she has ceased being an actual human being along the way, and has become a character on this reality tv show we call life. I cannot imagine what a day in her world must look or feel like - quite frankly I hope I never have to find out, as I don’t think I could handle that level of pressure.

This odd juxtaposition of her seeming very unreal and real is exactly what I loved and struggled with when it came to this book.

On one hand, I LOVED the re-imagining of her life, of what she could have achieved and accomplished had she just left Bill after his first indiscretions with her early on in their relationship. How focused and powerful she really could have become, had she not ended up in the shadow of the Clinton name. How differently Bill’s trajectory might have been had he not had her steadying and strong force to ground him back to earth. I loved how this story unfolded, and I LOVED that Curtis wrote it to feel very much like a memoir. The characters were all to real to me, and Hillary’s voice was spot on - confident, assured and brilliant, while still being vulnerable and human.

I love that Hillary’s “character” in the story still faced the same issues that she does in today’s world - specifically the unbelievable scrutiny over the fact that she is a woman, in politics, who is ambitious enough to believe she can be president. I appreciated that Curtis didn’t shy away from this or sweep it under the rug, instead taking these topics on head first, and giving Hillary the voice that I’m sure at times, she wishes she could use to set straight, once and for all, that she is no less qualified to run this country just because she has ovaries.

I loved the way Curtis evened the playing field - yes she tackles the sexual harassment issues with Bill, but she tackles them with Hillary as well - no one is immune to accusations, especially those on a public platform.

I even loved the fact that Donald Trump plays prominently into this story - his character is so thoroughly believable here, but perhaps that’s just because everything that man does seems like it has been ripped straight from fictional headlines.

The part that I struggled with most prominently with this book, is that this is a re-imagined story of someone who is very much alive, living their life, involved in these politics and married to the man she left behind in the book. More than any other part of the book, I didn’t care for the elaborate and graphic sex scenes - particularly when it came to Hillary and Bill. These became too voyeuristic for me, it felt wrong to so fly so close to that particular intimacy. I felt a little pulled out of the story and wondered how Hillary would feel should she ever read something so detailed about such an intimate and private corner of her own life. I cannot imagine it would be something she would consent to, and for that reason, it was not something I could be complicit in enjoying.

Outside of that one small piece, the book was a deeply satisfying read. Entertaining, intriguing and thought provoking, certainly a book that has stuck with me from the minute I finished the last chapter and wondered, what will come next for Hillary, in this world and the fictional world.

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Fantastic performance of a great story!

I'd read mixed reviews of this book before listening, but I was intrigued by the premise: what would Hillary Rodham have become if she had refused Bill Clinton's third marriage proposal? Author Curtis Sittenfeld offers us a smart, relatable narrator in Hillary, striking the right balance throughout between her ambition in her career and her desires as a woman (including many sex scenes, which some reviewers were squeamish about, but which to me did not seem all that graphic).

Perhaps it was because the whole thing is wonderfully narrated by Carrington Macduffie, whose voices for Bill, Donald Trump (yes he's in here) and many others really make the storytelling come alive. Her "normal" voice as Hillary is warm and mature, and makes this whole what-if fantasy more realistic and believable than it might be if read on the page.

I was sad as I saw the minutes ticking down - I didn't want this book to end. Highly recommended - a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

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  • Y. Scott
  • 2020-05-29

I felt insulted by this novel

One day after finishing this book, my anger against it increased. My feeling was upgraded from "dislike" to "detest". Therefore, 1 star instead of 2.

I had been fascinated by Bill Clinton since he was elected to be US president in 1992. I read many books about him and wished I would meet him one day to see if his charm was real. It finally happened in 2016 at a Hillary event. Hillary was with Bill and Chelsea and I met all of them. Hillary took a selfie with me. What surprised me the most was that Hillary was a better speaker and had more charisma than Bill by that time.

I'm sure many of us who voted for Hillary in 2008(primary) and 2016 wonder "what if"s. One of them is Hillary and Bill's marriage. I read this novel hoping Hillary gets better life in the alternate universe.

Unfortunately, it was a letdown. If she had decided not to marry Bill, she would've moved on completely. Hillary in this novel sounds too insecure about her looks or her value as a woman(and as a person). I don't think she is like that at all. Sittenfeld doesn't seem to understand who Hillary is. It's quite an insult for Hillary and readers like me. I don't think Sittenfeld really understood why women decide to stay with their boyfriends or husbands who are obviously bad for them. I hate the way Sittenfeld cheapened Hillary's character and her struggle.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Joyann Sanz-agero
  • 2020-05-26

Women voted against Hillary? Unbelievable!

I loved it for the most part! She should have been elected in 2016! Too late for the best!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jess
  • 2020-05-24

This book defines these past four years for me

more than the actual four years which have passed. I'm a huge Sittenfeld fan and this book is no exception.

3 people found this helpful

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  • tula
  • 2020-05-22

Sittenfeld does it again!

With this engaging novel of Hillary Rodham's life under the guise: What if Hillary never married Bill Clinton. I devoured this book and loved connecting the characters to this fictional novel.

The book reads like a biography with a fictional twist. I found myself giggling at some of the depictions because Sittenfeld nails some of the characters.

I don't entirely agree with who Hillary might have been without Bill, as depicted in this story. I do though feel she was and is a strong, brave, introspective, caring woman who found her own way in a predominately run boys club and paved the way for all women. In this work of fiction and in reality.

This is not a parody or a memoir, it is fiction. Take it for what it is. I enjoyed it tremendously.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Huston
  • 2020-06-05

Under-whelmed

Ok, the premise of this book had me hooked. What would Hilary's life had been had she not married Bill?

Apparently, and stop reading now for spoilers.....

Her life was to be destined to be a sheltered prude who is constantly having to be told what or how things are, is shocked and overly righteous, child-woman that has never done anything wrong in her whole GD life. Oh and also, after dating and leaving Bill, basically becomes a shrew that never finds another meaningful relationship until she is in her sixties. The relationships she has with women in this book are built up, only to be dismissed in an insultingly flimsy manner.

I have listened to audio books by this narrator before, and have enjoyed her. However, most of this book the tone is just off, she is almost overplaying how young Hilary would have sounded. Narration was a much better fit for "prime" Hilary (30-50) and honestly not old enough sounding at the end. Again, I have not experienced this with this narrator before, so I am blaming the book.

I also appreciate the author;s attempt to interweave actual history into this fictitious timeline, but it just wasn't meaty ENOUGH to be believable. And while I heard lost about Hilary eating only toast for dinner (*cough*um what. Even models eat more than that*cough*) you didn't really get to learn about how this unburdened Hilary made her mark, I actually LOVED the story about the Landlord. More of that would have been GREAT so that it didn't just seem like Hilary happened to fall into a Presidential Election.

I also listened to "What Happened" by Hilary Clinton, and found this book to be nowhere near the tone of the actual Hilary. She does not seem easily shocked, does have a sense of humor (which this Hilary most definitely does not have) and has a FIRE in her. Whatever your politics are on the real Hilary, she is one tough broad to have made it this far in life, and this fake-Hilary didn't emote that at all. I also didn't particularly enjoy "What Happened" - but would recommend it, over this.

I am not writing this author off, and will hopefully get to listen to American Wife soon!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Alison Cooper
  • 2020-06-01

Had High Hopes, But Disapponted

I was captivated by the premise of this book and had really enjoyed American Wife, so I had high hopes. But rather than adding more dimensions to Hillary Rodham, Sittenfield turned her into a fairly dull and unlikable person. Too bad, because some of the plot twists that came from the premise were intriguing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-05-29

Not what expected...

Having familiarity with HRC’s history, I was intrigued about the idea of what could have been, if she had remained HC & continued to blossom in her brilliance, unencumbered. I expected this book to take me on an intellectual ride & was sorely disappointed. More than anything, it made me uncomfortable. The fictitious version of BC, in the book, seems to be a combination of the real Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, & Wade Boggs in his most notable interview. His character looms over the story line & detracts from the strength, confidence, resolve, & integrity of the main character. My expectation, for an intellectual ride, was derailed by insipid & unnecessary details &... my craving for a clearer image of the administration that could have been, was barely given a cracker.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ann L
  • 2020-06-08

Table of contents issues

As has been the case with other Audible titles, the constuct of the table of contents is lax. There are titles for the major parts of the story, but the narrative skips around time periods. Without subtitles stating the shifts between time periods within a chapter, there can be confusion. When you are listening to a book, you don't have the option of flipping through pages to retrace portions of the text. Please be more considerate of those who don't have access to the printed title!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Catherine M.
  • 2020-05-29

Revisionist history in the best way

Pants suit nation fan fiction - but so fun and also thought provoking. One small change, one decision, opens up an entirely different path.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tyson
  • 2020-05-29

Spellbinding!

Imaginative alternative universe where so much is different and so much is the same. Love the way she characterizes the Clintons and other historical figures. A must listen! Superb performance by the narrator.

1 person found this helpful