What if Hillary had never married Bill? ‘Rodham’ answers that question

Elizabeth Toohey in The Christian Science Monitor:

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a Rorschach test for our culture, as she herself has noted. In the 1980s as first lady of Arkansas, she was thought to have weakened Bill Clinton’s campaign as an incumbent by keeping her maiden name, so she took his. When his affair with Monica Lewinsky in the White House was revealed in the 1990s, Hillary’s popularity soared for standing by her man. Twenty years later, she was reviled for the same decision and called an enabler. She earned high approval ratings as a senator and as secretary of state, but her popularity plummeted when she ran for higher office. Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel “Rodham” poses the fascinating question: How would we feel about Hillary without Bill? For Sittenfeld, the answer is complicated. Some may dismiss Hillary’s political career as hinging on her husband’s, but as anyone familiar with her record at Wellesley College and Yale Law School knows, she was by all accounts a brilliant, outspoken student – and “Rodham” opens with the graduation speech she gave at Wellesley that propelled her to public notice .

By turns historical fiction, fan fiction, and a novel of manners, Sittenfeld’s portrait imagines how things might have been had Hillary said no to Bill’s proposal of marriage. It’s a peculiar fantasy, but one that will resonate with readers who think Hillary got a raw deal, both in her marriage and in the coverage of her 2016 presidential bid.

More here.