Random. May 2020. 432p. ISBN 9780399590917. $28. F
What if Hillary Rodham had never married Bill Clinton? Sittenfeld (Eligible) explores this fascinating premise and follows Hillary from her Yale Law School years in the 1970s to the presidential election of 2016 and shortly after. Having spent much of her life being told she was “opinionated for a girl,” Hillary longs for someone to appreciate her brains, along with her body, which handsome, charismatic Bill does. Their romance begins at Yale, and Bill follows Hillary to California, where she’s working for the summer and first catches him cheating on her. Unable to let go, Hillary gives Bill another chance and then follows him to Arkansas after graduation. Despite multiple proposals from Bill, Hillary realizes she can’t marry someone who will never be faithful to her. From there, the story follows Hillary’s career as a senator and her eventual bids for the presidency, touching on the contrasting loneliness and fulfillment of putting her career before having a family and the joy and drudgery of life on the campaign trail.
VERDICT Successfully interspersing fact with fiction, Sittenfeld imagines Rodham’s personal and professional life without marriage in aching detail in this captivating novel.
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