Imagine if Hillary hadn’t married Bill. Would there have been no Clinton presidency? No NAFTA? No Ken Starr and Monicagate? And what would have happened to Hillary herself, an ambitious lawyer from Chicago with her own political aspirations?
Such is the subject of Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest, Rodham, which follows in the steps of her 2008 bestseller, American Wife (that one about the imagined inner life of Laura Bush).
The story begins with Secretary Clinton’s actual biography—finishing up her law degree at Yale and far too concerned with her life’s work and purpose to worry about dating. (Particularly lovely attention is given to the nightly “nest” she creates for herself in her bedroom, an “arrangement of tea, pillows, notebook, calendar and text books.”)
She meets Bill in the student lounge, and while she is certainly taken with his magnanimous Southern charm (and appetite for hamburgers), it is he who becomes smitten. He essentially moves in with Hillary and gives up his own summer plans to follow her to a job in San Francisco.