I’ve been so looking forward to reading Curtis Sittenfeld‘s book Rodham for our book club. And it’s finally happened. I’m joined by my clever author and song writer friend Mandy Newman to discuss this truly unique read.

Mandy and Alex (with no make up) – (L to R)

At the present time, the main conversation in Australia is around how we treat and respect women. Triggered by a string of recent events including Brittany Higgins’ sharing her story of rape in Parliament House, the appointment of Grace Tame as Australian of the Year and the Christian Porter situation, there is hopefully a paradigm shift occurring. Check out my recent podcast episode that explain why Australian women believe ‘enough is enough’.

What is it about?

Rodham is a work of fiction that speculates what Hilary could have done if she had not married Bill. What would she have been able to achieve without Bill in her life? It’s a blend of political biography and popular fiction.

Curtis is clearly a Hilary fan girl. Both Mandy and I wonder if perhaps this book is in fact how Hilary’s fans would have loved to see the outcome of the 2016 election, which she famously lost by a narrow margin to Donald Trump.

About Curtis Sittenfeld

Rodham is Curtis’ 6th book. in 2008, she wrote American Wife, in which she imagined the life of a first lady much like Laura Bush which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, as was her debut novel Prep. Her other books include The Man of My Dreams, SisterlandEligible and the acclaimed short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Oprah Magazine and the New York Times magazine. 

The Verdict

Mandy feels like her interest waned when Curtis started fictionalising Hilary’s life but she did find the first part of the book which detailed her relationship with Bill completely intriguing.

One of the biggest questions many have is why Hilary chose to stay with Bill. Mandy believes Curtis avoids answering this as in the book, they never marry. I, however, believe Curtis does answer this by the inclusion of the intense passionate love between Hilary and Bill. She stayed because she adored him – warts & all!

I believe that Curtis is also trying to make the point that without Hilary, Bill’s career would never have happened. In the book, Bill ends up marrying a more demure and conventional wife who possibly contributes to his politically demise. The constituency feel more sorry for her when Bill’s infidelities become public so as a result, he cops more flack! Whereas in ‘real life’, when Bill’s infidelities were made public, unpopular Hilary – who had already generated a reputation for insulting stay at home mothers and being sharp – took the heat.

If you are a Hilary fan or intrigued with the American political system then this book is a must! If you would like to dig a little deeper into Hilary’s life and run for President in 2016, check out the 4 part Hilary documentary on SBS. Described as as examination of ‘how (Hilary) became at once one of the most admired and vilified women in the world.’ Fascinating stuff!

Mandy gives it 7.5/10 whereas I give it 8/10!

Check out the podcast for our full download about this amazing book. You can listen via your favourite podcast app or by clicking on the link below.

Happy listening

Alex x