WellRead’s June 2020 selection was Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld. Without giving too much away (the devil truly is in the detail in this book), as well as political anthropology, the novel interrogates female ambition, loneliness, unjust compromises, moral ambivalence, femininity and, well, orgies! Something for everyone.
Use these discussion questions to engage with the book further, whether in a book club with friends, or just on your own as you digest the story.
Reading questions for Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld:
Will you ever look at a saxophone the same way again? But seriously, what did you make of the sex in the book? Sittenfeld said in an interview that she has “complicated feelings about the sex” she chose to include and that she believes “it makes the story”. What do you think she means by this?
Did you read the novel with what you know about the real Hillary Clinton in mind or did she turn into a character of her own?
The book explores the tension between inevitability and free-will. Some historical events remain, others are noticeably absent. Do you believe in inevitability?
A review summarised the Hillary we come to know in the novel as “an admirable woman, but a bit boring, her interior life free of the kind of conflicts that make for a fascinating heroine”. Whereas another review claimed that “if anybody can turn Hillary into a fictional heroine”, Sittenfeld can. What do you think makes a literary heroine and did Sittenfeld succeed in creating one in Rodham?
What do you think the book has to say about female ambition and its relationship to sacrifice?
- Sittenfeld has said that if she never made Hillary make a questionable decision, the book would have read as a “preposterous love letter”. What questionable decisions does she make? Did you find them believable?
Please note, these questions were written and distributed in June, 2020.