“Rodham” is more educational, even more interesting, but less engaging as a novel than Sittenfeld’s “American Wife”. Perhaps my reaction is because I did not like fictional Hillary all that much, and perhaps that is due to sexism, certainly the book makes a strong case that this could be. Anyway, what particularly bothered me is the young woman who could make statements like the following: “But I tended to feel excitement for the other person in inverse proportion to his excitement for me.” “I had discovered that the key to opening the door of dating was to agree to go out with boys and men to whom I was not physically attracted.” Now, it is unfair to single out such remarks by a person frustrated at the time by her romantic life, but still. As many other readers noted, the novel is definitely better when Bill Clinton is mostly out of the picture.
Having said all that, the fictional Hillary is a well drawn, complex person, not idealized, but not one tarred by anything unethical; she did have one lapse of judgment concerning a junior staff member. Insight into what it is like to run an election campaign, especially when you are very conscientious, was compelling. The novel is extremely well plotted. Jumping back and forth in time so frequently bothered me some - it usually does not bother me when novels do that; perhaps it was because the book jumps between two campaigns.