I make no apologies for being a Hillary Clinton fan, despite not agreeing with all her choices, votes, or decisions. When What Happened became available at my library (I check out e-books through the King County Public Library), I quickly shuffled my reading list to put this at the top. Like most candidates for President, this memoir touches on both the election, the process, and personal stories and background. While those elected don’t publish their memoirs until after they leave office, those who didn’t win usually post theirs within the following year. Hillary joins those ranks.
If you despise Hillary Clinton, there is nothing in this book that will change your mind. And it wasn’t written to change your mind. This is a personal memoir, it is full of angst, and it both apologizes and remains unapologetic. If you’re not willing to see her as a flawed individual (like we all are) who still remains one of the most respected and admired women in the world, then skip this read.
As a woman of the same era as Hillary, I was at times moved to tears as she talked about the limited path that was available in the 50s and 60s. I know the limitations that I had to face in my early school years, a steering of interests to those that were designated appropriate for girls, and I remain thankful that young women of today and so many more choices that I did. The book reminded, however, of the need to remain vigilant to ensure that young women continue to have all these choices and more.
There are facts and figures, statistics and quotes, and lots of analysis about the election. But if you only read it for that take, you’re missing a story of a young woman coming of age in the 60s who despite the odds nearly becomes president of the United States.
A recommended read.
Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife isn’t the first book I’ve read which tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. According to author Gioia Diliberto, she is the one woman he never stopped loving.
Hadley is also the subject of a biographical novel, The Paris Wife, which I’ve read previously. Paula McLain wrote The Paris Wife using Hadley’s voice. Seven years older than he, Hadley’s story as told in The Paris Wife evokes the impossible emotional commitments people can and cannot make when their own dysfunctional backgrounds collide with their hopes and dreams.
This true biography (as opposed to the fictional portrayal in The Paris Wife) will further illuminate the milieu in which Hadley and Ernest moved: the Paris-based Lost Generation inhabited by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Gerald and Sara Murphy (whose story is poignantly told in Everybody Was So Young), John Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, and famous others between the World Wars.