Special Relationship by Robyn Sisman

607960While going through my “To Read” queue on GoodReads, I realized I had couple books by Robyn Sisman that I hadn’t read yet. This one was available for interlibrary loan, so I snapped it up.

It was written in 1995 and set (mostly) in 1992, which was more jarring than I’d expected it would be. (I definitely giggled at the use of payphones instead of mobiles and fax machines as the height of technology.) Jordan Hope, our stand-in for Bill Clinton, is running for President and it turns out he may be the father of an illegitimate child from his time as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Tom, the son, is starting at Oxford and begins to question his paternity after he finds a photo of his mother, Annie, with a strange man that looks a lot like him. Annie, finding her son has gone missing, fears that he will cross the Atlantic and ruin Jordan’s campaign for President, so she tries to get there first, all while dealing with a pretty big career move. There’s a lot going on.

The middle section of the book is set in the 1960s and far more enjoyable than the “present day” sections. Since my trip to Cambridge last summer (which I realize is NOT Oxford), I felt much more connected to the rituals and architecture described in the flashback portions. But there was comfort in the thought of punting along the river, formal halls and gated dormitories. Trying to imagine the “modern day” New York or London was a lot more difficult for me than 1960s Oxford.

The book ends realistically, if not satisfactorily. I was hoping for more soapy romance in the way that a lot of her books have 20something heroines jetting off to Italy or Paris. Jordan Hope/Bill Clinton was not as disguised as I thought he’d have to be for something like this, but I guess Mr. President has more important things to do.