This is a strange one… Sittenfeld has created an alternative reality book based on what would have happened had Hilary not married Bill (these are the Clintons we’re talking about here). It’s strange because… Hilary’s a real person. In fact, many people in this book are real. And current. And reading about them in this way is… well, it’s strange. To say the least!
Firstly, the opening section is the ‘reality’ – it’s an historical fiction account of Hilary’s life when she met Bill and how they got together. With a lot of sex, which given that they are (as mentioned previously) real, it’s… strange. Then things branch out into an alternative reality, when Sittenfeld makes up what might have happened.
Despite the strangeness, I was compelled to read this book. I just couldn’t put it down. I kind of loved it.
Lee Fiora is from a small town in Indiana, but manages to get a scholarship to Ault, an exclusive boarding school in Massachusetts. She feels out-of-place in the school, surrounded by the extremely wealthy, and deals with this by pushing her own personality aside and trying desperately to blend in and not be noticed. This is impossible, and she tries to control what she is noticed for – and manages to sabotage any chance of happiness she could have.
I spent the first half of the book quite fascinated to see how Lee would keep herself unnoticed, but by the halfway point, I wanted more. I found the skips forward in time to reveal something about the future quite annoying. Of course, I persisted to the end and was quite surprised to find several events that had major repercussions, yet were put right at the end of the book, and I didn’t feel they were fully resolved.