If Dianne Feinstein hadn’t lived the life she had, her story might be the product of a screenwriter’s over-fertile imagination.

The synopsis: After surviving an abusive childhood, Feinstein overcomes personal loss — she is widowed at age 45 — and repeated electoral defeat to become a pioneer for women in politics and powerful member of the U.S. Senate. Along the way she survives a mayoral recall effort, a brutal Senate reelection campaign, an attempted bombing of her home and a gruesome brush with death.

The opening scene: November 1978, San Francisco’s Beaux-Arts City Hall, where former Supervisor Dan White has just shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Feinstein, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, rushes to Milk’s aid. She reaches for a pulse and plunges her finger in a bullet hole.