Despite all the hoopla and money surrounding this year’s U.S. Senate race in Maine, a source of information about one of the leading candidates somehow got overlooked.

It turns out that Sara Gideon, this year’s Democratic candidate, has a sister who’s a bestselling novelist who once dropped some inside information on her youngest sibling from an inside-the-family perspective.

A decade ago, Melanie Gideon wrote what she once called “a tell-some memoir” that’s mostly about her own experiences but tosses in some tales about her sister along the way.

In “The Slippery Year,” which received wide acclaim and is generally a loving take on life and family, the writer provides a glimpse of the would-be senator, tidbits that might not matter much except that Gideon, 48, is locked in one of the closest, most important political races in the nation as she tries to unseat four-term Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

At stake in the Nov. 3 election may be control of the Senate, which has been held by the GOP throughout President Donald Trump’s first term. Defeating Collins is a top goal for Democrats.

Perhaps the most interesting item about the woman who hopes to be Maine’s next senator in Melanie Gideon’s book is the author’s account of a deal her sister made before she got married.


Calling it the sort of agreement that “seemed eminently doable in the throes of new love,” the book said that Sara Gideon opted to convert to Judaism in return for her husband Ben taking her last name.

“He followed through on his part of the bargain,” Melanie Gideon noted, “but seeing as they hosted Christmas at their house last year, I’m not so sure she’s holding up on hers.”

Benjamin Rogoff, a lawyer, married Sara Gideon on Nov. 17, 2001, according to a Cornell Alumni Magazine the following year.

Sara Gideon’s campaign had no comment on the tale or on her sister’s book, which generally garnered high marks from reviewers.

The New Yorker said it was “charmingly surprised” at the volume of vignettes and observations because of “the author’s dry, self-deprecating wit about situations that manage to seem both vividly unique and universal.”

The New York Times said that “with self-effacing humor, Ms. Gideon chronicles the mundanity and small epiphanies of everyday life.”


Melanie Gideon, who could not be reached, has also written a few novels, including “Wife 22” and “Valley of the Moon.”

Sara Gideon’s high school yearbook photo.

In her slim volume of memoirs, which includes quite a bit about her parents in Rhode Island and three sisters, there is a hint of envy whenever Sara Gideon is mentioned.

Consider this passage: “Sara is eight years younger than I am. She had a completely different childhood than mine. Once we all left for college, she became an only child. She had it easy — her cross to bear was being too popular. How nice it must have been for my parents to have a daughter whom everybody adored.”

She said that with Sara alone at home, her parents must have had the life they always dreamed about: “One perfect child who loved Pop Rocks, Shaun Cassidy and the cello.”

Or consider this one: “Sara tells me my parents used to introduce her by saying, ‘And here’s our Sara.’ It’s the ‘our’ that kills me.

“When my parents introduced the three of us older girls it went something like ‘This is Rebecca; she’s taking advanced calculus. Oh yes, and those two whacking each other over the head with their Sasha dolls are the twins.’ You can’t hold Sara’s charm against her. She emanates light.”


Elsewhere in the book, Melanie Gideon describes a time about 2005 when her 30-year-old sister came to visit her in California.

“Sara wore no makeup. Nor did she need any,” the book said, calling her “so stunning and fresh-faced” that a stranger stopped the two of them walking on the street.

Sara Gideon

“Oh, my God,” the woman squealed. “You two look so much alike!” Melanie Gideon wrote.

As she beamed and hooked her arm with her younger sister, she heard the woman gush, “Your daughter is beautiful.” Then she asked Sara Gideon where she might go to college.

Melanie Gideon said the comments devastated her.

“I would have fallen to my knees in the middle of the street had Sara not been holding on to me,” she wrote.


Elsewhere in the book, Melanie Gideon, who used to live in Maine, mentioned that her sister “is living the life I thought I would have, but she’s living it so much better than I ever could, with a huge backyard, a mosquito zapper, a kayak, three children and” a quaint market across the street in Freeport.

“Sara really has the Maine life down,” Melanie Gideon wrote, taking full advantage of the nearby L.L.Bean flagship store for play dates and meetups with friends.

The book leaves off years before Sara Gideon ran for a state House seat, became speaker of the House,  or thought of seeking election to the U.S. Senate.

But Melanie Gideon had made at least one public comment about her sibling’s Senate candidacy.

Last year, when Sara Gideon announced her intention to run, Melanie Gideon posted on Facebook that she was “incredibly proud of my sister,” along to a link to a New York Times story about the news.

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