Sammy's Houseby Kristin Gore
The heroine of Kristin Gore's bestselling inside-the-beltway romp Sammy's Hill returns, and this time the laughs are richer and the stakes are higherat home and in the house (the White House, that is).
Samantha Joyce is many things: Health care policy wonk. Hypochondriac. Lover of Japanese Fighting Fish (and of Charlie Lawton, her Washington/b>… See more details below
The heroine of Kristin Gore's bestselling inside-the-beltway romp Sammy's Hill returns, and this time the laughs are richer and the stakes are higherat home and in the house (the White House, that is).
Samantha Joyce is many things: Health care policy wonk. Hypochondriac. Lover of Japanese Fighting Fish (and of Charlie Lawton, her Washington Post reporter boyfriend). Jumper-to-conclusions. And when all these identities collideas they do most daysthe results are always unpredictable.
Sammy's role as an advisor to Vice President Robert Gary (RG for short) has led her down some exciting professional paths, like when she accompanies RG on a trip to India to help open pharmaceutical supply lines, and some troubling oneslike when the president secretly asks her to plumb those lines to acquire as yet unapproved drugs for his own personal use. Her job interferes with her love life, too, after Charlie is transferred to New York for a huge story just when she's expecting a proposal, and they find that distance combines poorly with Sammy's dedication to her work and her overactive imagination. And then there's the surprisingthough ego-pleasingseries of passes thrown Sammy's way, culminating in a highly embarrassing photo of a Hollywood hotshot's hand where it doesn't belong, published in the pages of Us Weekly. . . .
As the dual crises in Sammy's personal and professional lives come to a head, and her ideals are put to the ultimate test, readers will be flipping pages madly, wondering what might come next. Because in Sammy's house, anything is possible.
- Hachette Books
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.24(w) x 7.88(h) x 1.10(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
By Kristin Gore
HyperionCopyright © 2007 Kristin Gore
All right reserved.
It was when she started stripping that everyone realized something was wrong. This was an official White House event. A somewhat boring, completely respectable cruise on the Potomac River to thank everyone in the West Wing for the hard work that had won the election. But it was no longer boring. Until the woman whipped off her tailored black jacket to reveal a star-spangled bra and a surprisingly elaborate dragon tattoo, the only remarkable thing about this cruise was that it was nineteen months late. The celebratory boat ride had been promised long ago, in the first month of our new administration, but no one minded that the business of running the country had continuously delayed its actual launch. Victory was prize enough-who needed a cruise?
I tore my eyes away from the increasingly explicit show to scan the crowd for RG. He'd gone below deck to take a call from President Wye, and I was relieved that he still seemed to be there, unaware of these antics. He was the vice president, and as a member of the White House staff, one of my duties was to protect him from public embarrassment whenever possible. That job had become significantly harder in the last thirty seconds.
I looked quicklyaround for help, but most people seemed frozen, capable only of staring with wide-open mouths. The stereo system played on, its background hum now transformed into a striptease soundtrack. Someone needed to shut it off. Someone needed to shut her off. I searched for the Secret Service agents posted throughout the boat. Would they get involved only if they deemed the stripper a security threat? By now, she'd reached a point where concealed weapons seemed an impossibility.
Upon closer examination, the dragon tatooed on her shoulder appeared to be wearing a tufted pink tutu. I pondered its significance. Perhaps this unknown woman, who until a minute ago everyone had taken for an inhibited waitress offering shrimp dip and taquitos, belonged to a hard-livin', rough-and-tumble gang of rebel ballerinas. She was certainly nimble, judging by the ease with which she was now pirouetting out of her panties.
I was blinking from the flashes, both photographic and pornographic, and had just noticed the tattoo of a tap-dancing minotaur on the stripper's upper thigh when Harry Danson, the president's chief of staff, suddenly pushed through the crowd and covered her with his jacket. She tried to shrug it off, but Harry was very firm. It's in his job description.
"Just what is this all about?" he demanded fiercely, painfully aware of all the photos that had already been taken.
There wasn't any press aboard; the cruise was for staff only. But though everyone was ostensibly loyally intent on protecting the administration from unnecessary scandal, it was hard to keep a story like this from getting out. I myself could think of five people I planned to regale immediately with this sordid tale. It wasn't often that one attended an office function and got entertained by a scantily clad exhibitionist inked with dancing fantasy creatures. It would be selfish to keep this to myself.
"I'm a gift from the Exterminators," the stripper answered. "They say congratulations for making it this far.
They didn't think you had it in you."
I watched Harry's jawline stiffen. When he got angry, which was distressingly often, he looked like he'd had steel cheek implants. I'd met few people more ripe for a hernia.
"Thank you, that will be all," he ground out through clenched teeth.
Harry and a couple Secret Service agents ushered the woman through the still-stunned crowd toward the caterers' station. The hushed silence that had accompanied her performance exploded into the sounds of a hundred and seventy-five people talking at once.
The Exterminators were a very disgruntled band of former officials from the previous administration. Most of them had stayed in D.C. to form an opposition think tank, and nothing seemed to please them more than perpetrating juvenile pranks while they worked very seriously to sabotage every policy change we tried to make.
They hadn't named their think tank the Exterminators. That particular moniker derived from one of the many vindictive stunts they'd pulled on their way out of the West Wing, which they had vandalized to the best of their abilities in a rage against their ouster. In addition to rigging booby traps and carving their initials into various pieces of furniture, they had also taken the time to enact a much more elaborate and dastardly scheme.
They'd ordered cases of frozen feeder mice-available on the Internet to pet owners in need of food for raptors and reptiles-and, in an impressive labor of hate, had carefully sewn several hundred of these tiny frozen mice into the hems of all the heavy West Wing drapes.
We'd noticed an unpleasant odor a few days after we'd moved in, but couldn't be positive that wasn't the way the place always smelled. But as the frozen feeder mice had thawed in their thick fabric tombs, the smell had intensified rapidly. In a little over a week, it had become unbearably wretched, rendering the West Wing virtually uninhabitable.
It had been difficult to locate the precise source, since the horrific stench had seemed to emanate from the very walls around us. The maintenance crew had finally discovered the tiny rotting rodent corpses after their fourth thorough search. That very day, a case of champagne had been delivered to the West Wing with a note that read: "To wash down the smell. Enjoy yourselves while you last, because we'll be rid of you before you know it. Love and kisses, the Exterminators." And thus, an annoying nickname had been born.
Even after the discovery and removal of the mice carcasses, the gut-gripping stink had lingered for nearly two months, despite all efforts to eradicate it. To their obnoxious delight, the Exterminators had inflicted a parting gift that had kept on giving.
I knew that my own party was perfectly capable of similar pettiness, because the previous administration had complained instantly to the press when they'd moved into the White House eight years earlier to find tuna sandwiches locked in all their file cabinets and their computers rigged to print the chorus of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man" no matter what the command. Some in the press had privately enjoyed the specter of then President Pile's political guru Carl Jones battling rebellious office machinery that taunted him with the words "Because something is happening here but you don't know what it is. Do you, Mister Jones?" printed over and over again, but the majority of columns and articles had chastised the outgoing administration for such childishness.
Had we been as eager to whine to the press, we might have garnered comparable support, but we weren't the same breed of tattletales. And even taking pride in that was immature. The whole embarrassing rivalry gave me flashbacks to junior high.
Which, frankly, didn't seem all that long ago. I was twenty-eight now and working as a health care advisor to the White House, but I still often felt as awkward and unsure of myself as I had during those halcyon days of orthodontic headgear and New Kids on the Block fan clubs. Though I'd spent a few fascinating years as a Capitol Hill staffer to then Senator Robert Gary (RG to his staff), the White House was an entirely different universe. The stakes, the pressure, the perpetual potential for both extraordinary progress and crippling failure-everything was ratcheted up to a spectacular intensity now that I worked for the president and vice president of the United States. More than ever before, I felt like I needed to constantly prove myself in a new world full of gossip and cliques and all sorts of social politics. So in some ways, the junior high flashbacks were apropos. Though perhaps I had slightly more of a shot at a date with New Kid heartthrob Jordan Knight now. Slightly.
Amid the fear and anxiety, I also felt a certain wide-eyed wonder at everything I was witnessing. At the inauguration of Wye and RG, I'd been awed by the sight of democracy in action. After a hard-fought, nasty election cycle, it had been thrilling and refreshing to observe the peaceful transfer of power. I'd watched everything from the sidelines, humbled by the remarkable nature of such an event, and grateful to be on the happier end of it. Granted, a week later I'd felt considerably less idealistic about the whole thing when I'd had to wear a surgical mask at my desk to filter the rancid fumes of decomposing mice. And now those same clever saboteurs had disrupted our year-and-a-half-late victory cruise by paying a woman to take her clothes off. They were classy, classy folks.
"Everyone resume having fun," Harry Danson barked threateningly at the crowd.
We instantly pretended to obey. I watched several people punching buttons on their cell phones and could practically feel the camera-phone photos whisking away to the world beyond White House control.
I noticed Lincoln Thomas standing by the starboard railing, as far from the heart of the crowd as he could get. As usual, he looked like a frightened stork-ready at the next instant to gather his thin legs and ruffled feathers and take off for calmer waters. Lincoln was my direct superior-the chief domestic policy advisor to the president-and I worked with him all day, every day. I was continually amazed by his excruciating shyness and considered it part of my job to try to help him overcome it.
"What did you make of the show?" I asked, wondering if he might pretend not to hear me. It was an old trick of his.
His eyes flitted to my face briefly, and then away again as he cleared his throat in his nervous way. Every conversation was a cage for him. He'd beat against it for a panicked moment, hoping against hope for escape, before realizing he was trapped.
"Well, it was, er ... exhilarating," he finally managed. "Not 'exhilarating' in the good, I-was-enjoying-it way," he rushed to mumble. "I just mean it was very, um ..."
His face had turned red and taken on a desperate sheen.
"Unexpected," I offered.
He breathed in gratefully.
"Exactly. Unexpected," he agreed. "That's more what I meant. Not sexy or titillating or ..." He trailed off, looking alarmed again.
"So, I think we're all set for the bill signing tomorrow," I threw out.
"Yes. Good," Lincoln answered thankfully.
He was completely in his element when discussing work. It was everything else that he couldn't handle.
"I'll see you then, there. I mean there, then. Bye," he blurted, before moving quickly away. I watched him walk off to inflict his social awkwardness on someone else, then busied myself with some passing guacamole as I studied the remaining waitstaff. I was no longer fooled by their crisp jackets, which I now knew could be quickly shed like so much feigned politeness.
Where had the stripper gone, anyway? Had she already been removed from the boat, with the help of the D.C. police? After a quick search, I spotted her sitting in a chair, being interrogated by an agent. And what about RG? I was glad Wye wasn't on board. The Exterminators would have felt even more insufferably proud of themselves had they managed to punk the president along with the entire West Wing staff. I heard RG's familiar deep tones behind me and turned to find him in quiet conversation with Harry Danson, who was obviously briefing him on what he'd missed. Harry was considerably shorter than RG, with a bald, pointy head. He often reminded me of a very angry garden gnome. RG, in contrast, was a good-looking man whose distinguished demeanor conveyed a sense of calm intelligence, though these days his shoulders were too often tensed for conflict. Indeed, I noticed that his hair had grayed further over the past month, and the little lines around his eyes had burrowed deeper. When he'd joined the presidential ticket, he'd looked like a grown-up Boy Scout, but his face was considerably more worn-in now. Observing him, I was reminded of George Orwell's famous quote: "At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves." RG still had a few more years to sculpt his legacy, but his face was beginning to reflect the efforts.
I wondered if RG was bothered by the pace of his aging, whether it even crossed his mind. He blinked his tired eyes, said something I couldn't hear to Harry, and made his way to the center of the main deck. Someone clinked a spoon against a glass. Everyone quieted immediately, though I heard some scattered snickers, perhaps because RG was standing in the same spot where the stripper had begun her routine. It was almost impossible not to imagine what it would be like if he followed suit.
It was a ridiculous visual, and to my horror, I suddenly found myself having to stifle my own inadvertent laughter. Against my will, I was picturing RG helicoptering his jacket around in the air and swiveling his hips as he loosened that trusty red tie. Don't start laughing, I ordered myself sternly. Even as I commanded, I knew it was a lost cause. Trying not to laugh was the one sure way to send me into hysterics, however unwilling or inappropriate. I had yet to recover from a recent incident at my great-aunt's funeral triggered by the prim preacher's involuntary burp during the homily.
I winced at the memory even as I felt insubordinate giggles rising up once again and stuffed an olive in my mouth to keep it occupied. Looking serious, RG began speaking.
"For anyone visualizing me stripping, it ain't gonna happen," he deadpanned.
Everyone laughed, which was a welcome release for my pent-up hilarity.
"I understand there's been some excitement this evening and I'm sure our friends on the other side are very proud of their latest stunt, but our celebration tonight is about a whole lot more than silly games," RG continued. "We were elected, and we're now here in D.C. because of a simple, real truth. The American people want more out of their public servants, and we're going to give it to them. With the extraordinary hearts and minds gathered here today, we can do anything. We're going to help this great country be even better. So on behalf of the president and myself, and the bright future we are all shaping together, I want to thank you. And I want to salute you. For your passion, your commitment, and your fantastic, important work."
I felt a swell of pride and joined the heartfelt clapping, relishing the communal thrill that raced through the crowd. We had all worked incredibly hard to put RG and Wye, and by extension ourselves, into the White House. Though it was easy to forget the greater cause in the midst of the daily grind, luckily it only seemed to take a little well-placed rhetoric to energize us anew. Particularly when it involved flattery.
I suspected that we were so easily rejuvenated because at our cores, we believed we really could change the world. I knew that this didn't make us all that fashionable or cool. Cynicism was definitely much more in vogue. But this crowd had somehow opted out of ironic detachment. For better or for worse, we cared. And so, though it occurred to me that we all might be suckers, the reality was that a year and a half after commandeering the White House, most of us still felt the blood-tingling, breath-skipping happiness of what we'd pulled off. No amount of criticism, opposition, or sabotage could take that away. At least we hoped not.
"We've accomplished a lot so far, but it's only the beginning," RG continued. "We have an exciting few years ahead of us, so fill up on this shrimp dip. You're gonna need the energy."
I laughed along with the others and helped toast to our future, but RG's shrimp dip comment made me wonder about the possible hazards of the hors d'oeuvres we were consuming. Now that one of the waitresses had turned out to be a hired stripper, I was newly leery of the chefs. It's not like "cruise food" enjoys the most stellar reputation as it is. It seemed to me that I was perpetually coming across news stories about cruise ship passengers stricken by some mystery virus or another, and the sheer number of these incidents was worrisome. As far as I could tell, it was tough to go on a cruise and not come down with a hideous food-borne illness.
Excerpted from SAMMY'S HOUSE by Kristin Gore Copyright © 2007 by Kristin Gore. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Kristin Gore was born in 1977 and graduated from Harvard, where she wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. She has written for several television shows, including Saturday Night Live and Futurama. Her previous novel, Sammy's Hill, will be a Columbia Pictures feature film. She is currently at work on the screenplay. She resides in Los Angeles.
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'Sammy's House' picks up where her 'Hill' left off. If you haven't read 'Sammy's Hill' yet, please do . . . right now! You'll be very sorry and much sadder in life to skip out on that book. The action in the sequel has moved to the White House from the Capitol, and although the book is witty, engaging, and very funny, the characters also seem to lose some of their whimsy. Perhaps it is appropriate that a more serious venue breeds a more serious plot and characters that are slightly less given to frequent bouts of ridiculousness (the kind that makes you laugh like a lunatic as you read). Sammy and crew are still funny and believable, and regardless of your own political leanings, you'll care about what happens to them. I highly recommend Ms. Gore's books!
I was very impressed with these books. They managed to be filled with a ton of quality content while still rarely seeming too long. Samantha Joyce is a hilarious and relatable character and I hope to see another book about her.
I was dissapointed, i really enjoyed the first book -sammy's hill, and expected the same amount of humor and plot. but this book ended up being just a review of the first with a few new parts. I would save your money- i wish i did, i still think she is a great writer, this is not a good book though.
I really enjoyed Sammy's Hill and Sammy's House. It is light and interesting and keeps me laughing out loud. I am hoping there will be another book in Samantha Joyce's story soon!
I read Sammy's House in quick succession after Sammy's Hill. At first I was a bit disappointed. I felt it didn't pull me in as quickly. But by about halfway through it caught fire and then it burned brightly. Ms. Gore is an amazing writer and a funny one, too. I admire her style. Great stuff!
Samantha Joyce is the health care advisor to the White House. She works in the West Wing with the hustle and bustle of government business all around her, and she loves it. The Vice President told her she is ¿..a smart, capable advisor.¿ ¿¿an asset to our team.¿ ¿But¿you have some blind spots.¿ Those ¿blind spots¿ are what make Sammy a joy to know and the ¿smart¿ makes her someone to watch out for or so the leak in the White House finds out. As Sammy attempts not to be distracted by her personal relationship with a Washington Post reporter and her efforts to keep her Japanese fighting fish alive, she tries to figure out who is publishing exact quotes for the West Wing staff on the internet. Kristin Gore¿s personal knowledge of the inter workings of our governments executive branch shines in her books. Sammy Joyce is a funny, and smart protagonist. Well done, Kristin. Reviewed by Wanda C. Keesey