Welcome back to the bookish version of Six Degrees of Separation. Here’s how it works: Start with the book suggested by Kate over at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, and see where you end up by linking it to six other titles. It’s easy and it’s fun, and no two chains are the same!
This month’s starting point is Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:
A novel that imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton?
In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Lifemagazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced.
In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton.
But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.
Brilliantly weaving a riveting fictional tale into actual historical events, Curtis Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute and witty story for our times. In exploring the loneliness, moral ambivalence, and iron determination that characterize the quest for political power, as well as both the exhilaration and painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world still run mostly by men, Rodham is a singular and unforgettable novel.
I read Rodham earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I am a fan of alternate histories anyway, and Sittenfeld gave quite the compelling version of events when she envisioned Hillary NOT marrying Bill. The story read like a memoir and I had to keep reminding myself that this is fiction!
I am a huge fan of Sittenfeld’s ability to write a page-turning book, and I’ve read several of her books. For this month’s version of Six Degrees, I decided to explore Curtis Sittenfeld’s backlist. Rodham is her most recent book, but she has quite the backlist!
In American Wife, Sittenfeld takes on another speculative approach of an American First Lady; this time she fictionalizes Laura Bush’s life. I’ve heard this book is incredible and I can’t wait to read it. I think it’ll be my next Curtis Sittenfeld read!
Though it doesn’t have a high rating on Goodreads, the synopsis for Prep sounds good! I love a good campus story – especially one set among the privilged crowd. This is Sittenfeld’s debut novel so it could be interesting to see how she’s developed as a writer.
Sisterland is not a book I’d heard of, but the synopsis has me intrigued. Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet are psychic. While one embraces this gift, the other tries to hide it, but when the sister predicts a devastating earthquake on national tv, the other sister is forced to reckon with a life she tried to bury.
The Man of My Dreams is another backlist book of Sittenfeld’s, but one I’m not interested in at all. I will not be adding this to my TBR (unless one of you have read it and can convince me otherwise 😉).
You Think It, I’ll Say It is a collection of short stories that I really enjoyed. Though I’d find it hard to pick a favorite, there were several that stand out to me: Plausible Deniability, The Prairie Wife, and Gender Studies.
Eligible was the first book I read by Sittenfeld and I LOVED it! It’s a modern retelling of the classic story, Pride & Prejudice. The characters jumped off the pages and I could not read this one fast enough. It’s by far my favorite book by Curtis Sittenfeld and I highly recommend you adding it to your TBR!
Next month (October 3, 2020) the chain begins with