I posted a review of "Sammy's Hill" on Amazon.com three years ago and when I went to the booksigning at the Margaret ("Gone With the Wind") Mitchell Center in Atlanta to listen to her lecture and have her sign the book, I was surprised that she knew about my Amazon review! Apparently, I was the only guy at the time to have posted a review and her friends let her know about my review, because I defended her novel from the literary critics who used the dismissive and derogatory "chick lit" genre to classify her novel (and possibly marginalize it). As a male who served on Capitol Hill, I found a lot I could relate to in her novel, and it was one of the rare laugh-out-loud funny novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I gave it four stars instead of five because of what I thought were a few flaws: the protagonist, Samantha Joyce, was a bit too neurotic and over-analyzed everything; the Charlie character wasn't well developed as he appears at opportune moments throughout the novel; and that it was too short. But that was a good thing, because it left me wanting more! And now, more is here!
Though it is not as funny as the first one, it still packed quite a bit of laugh out loud moments as Samantha Joyce works in the first two years of the new administration. Though Kristin Gore publically denies making any kind of political statement in her novels, it's not hard for a savvy person to pick up on her digs against a Bush-like former president (after serving two disasterous terms as president, he becomes a reality TV star in which he unwittingly is seen as the buffoon) and the character flaws of a Clintonesque President Wye. It's obvious that Vice President Gary is based on her father, with the Second Lady based on her mother. She does a great job "rewriting" the Clinton presidency in this fictional tale of what it's like to work in a beleaguered presidency. Other digs include Senator Bramen, who reminds me of Senator John Kerry, a full of himself politician who can barely contain his animosity for the administration, even though they belong to the same party.
What she continued from the first novel (besides the similarily themed cover art) include the rhyming chapter titles (which I thought was clever the first time and glad to see repeated again), the travails of her Japanese fighting fish (though less focus this time), her roommate, and her romantic ups and downs with Charlie, who is a Washington Post reporter trying to get his first major scoop. Having a romantic storyline between Sammy the White House aide and Charlie the Washington Post reporter did a brilliant job in upping the dramatic tension, as they struggle to find the proper balance between their professional responsibilities and their romantic lives. Added to the mix, is an Ann Coulter-ish gossip reporter with a hatred of the administration; a political blog that seems to post news straight out of the West Wing, prompting suspicions of everyone on who might be the leak; a CNN reporter (think Anderson Cooper) and a ecstasy-addicted actor (I didn't know who she was poking fun of...Matthew McConaughey?) vying for Sammy's attention; a trip to India complete with a spitting camel; and most sweet of all, a White House aide named "Nick." Now, I'm just saying here...I don't know if Kristin knows any Nicks or if she named a character after me (wouldn't that be nice!) in honour of my amazon review, but I like to think that my loyalties to the Gore family would have a spiritual connection. I did introduce myself to her in 2004 as one of her father's interns and I also told her that I didn't know how he got over the loss in 2000, because I still harbored resentment over that electoral theft at that time. But, thanks to "An Inconvenient Truth" and Kristin Gore's novels, I was able to finally let go and accept the reality as it is. Gore may not be president ever, but he was the best Vice President in our nation's history.
The novel is worth reading, but start with the first one if you haven't read that one yet. By the end of "Sammy's House", I was struck by the deeper message of the novel...one that deals with honesty and lies, and how working in Washington can warp you away from your values. When I finished reading, I still wanted more. I would go so far as to say that it's even better than the first one and I hope that she will make it a trilogy. Sammy became less neurotic and much more enjoyable. She is the kind of person I'd love to be friends with and perhaps even date. It'll be interesting to see who'll play Sammy when the film version comes out (in a year or two). I hope it won't be Lindsay Lohan!