Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win by Jo Piazza is indeed a winner! This one is a timely page-turner about a woman’s journey as she runs for Senate. There’s comedy, heartache and some inspiration too. I loved it.
With the mid-terms coming up and more women running for office than ever before, this is an absolute ideal time to read this novel. The story follows Charlotte Walsh, a Silicon Valley executive who leaves her job to run for Senate in her home state of Pennsylvania. Walsh is running against a long-time male candidate who’s never seen a real challenger. While Walsh pledges to stick to the issues, her opponent launches dirty tactics and she faces harsh judgement from the press and peers. Plus, her husband is resentful about leaving behind their lives in California. Charlotte will have to decide how badly she wants to win, and at what cost. For more about the synopsis, click here.
Women in politics
Right now, women make up only one in five elected officials on Capitol Hill. However, this election cycle, more women are signing up to run for the highest elected offices than ever before — so far, at least 575 women have declared their intention to run for the House, the Senate or governor, according to Politico. It’s so inspiring that many women are running for office and it’s long overdue. But women still have a tougher road than men, which is ridiculous in 2018. If you scroll through Twitter, you’ll probably see some type of sexist headline about a woman currently in office or running. Everything about a woman is scrutinized while the men get off easy for the most part. And that’s definitely the case for Charlotte Walsh.
From her lack of heels to her passing out and everyone assuming she’s pregnant, anything Charlotte does is analyzed beyond imagination. While society expects their women candidates to be perfect, no one can hold up to that standard. While Charlotte is intelligent, capable and articulate, she still has plenty of flaws, like everyone does. But when running for office, everything is up to grabs for media consumption, including closely-held secrets.
Life on the campaign trail
Piazza really paints a picture of life as a candidate from the constant travel, shaking hands non-stop to eating junk food. Some interesting aspects include Charlotte’s frustration at having to craft her message to the audience she talks with. She hoped to be a different type of candidate that didn’t have talking points but she quickly learned that people only have a few interests when it comes to politics. For some it’s bringing jobs back to the state that simply don’t exist anymore. For others, it’s ensuring they’ll have accessible healthcare. It rang true that while candidates try to be different, the system doesn’t give much wiggle room. This book also made me respect the hard journey is really does take to run for office and how truly exhausting it can be.
This is a really well-done character study on an ambitious woman. While she was heavily motivated to run after the election of 2016, she does admit to herself that it’s partly because she wants to win. But when her and her family’s lives become tabloid fodder, the question becomes how much is she willing to risk to win. I love that Charlotte was ambitious. Women are taught to always be humble and quiet because if not, you’re considered a nuisance. Charlotte’s unapologetic nature of her ambition was truly inspiring and I really wish she was a real candidate. She would definitely have my vote.
Beyond the politics, Charlotte and her husband Max are at a crucial point in their relationship. Piazza examines their relationship and if love is truly enough to stay together when there’s so much working against them. Their dynamic stood out in this read as well.