I’ll Take What She Has

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Published by: Bantam
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Pages: 416
ISBN13: 978-0385342674



Perfect for fans of Marisa de los Santos and Allison Winn Scotch, Samantha Wilde’s new novel is a funny and heartfelt look at friendship, marriage, and the dynamics of modern motherhood.

Nora and Annie have been best friends since kindergarten. Nora, a shy English teacher at a quaint New England boarding school, longs to have a baby. Annie, an outspoken stay-at-home mother of two, longs for one day of peace and quiet (not to mention more money and some free time). Despite their very different lives, nothing can come between them—until Cynthia Cypress arrives on campus.

Cynthia has it all: brains, beauty, impeccable style, and a gorgeous husband (who happens to be Nora’s ex). When Cynthia eagerly befriends Nora, Annie’s oldest friendship is tested. Now, each woman must wrestle the green-eyed demon of envy and, in the process, confront imperfect, mixed-up family histories they don’t want to repeat. Amid the hilarious and harried straits of friendship, marriage, and parenthood, the women may discover that the greenest grass is right beneath their feet.

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“Samantha Wilde has a dry wit, a big heart, and a sharp eye that doesn’t miss a trick. I’ll Take What She Has is a smart and funny behind-the-scenes look at private school life and the grass-is-always-greener friendships of three women who, like most of us, would have fabulous lives if only they could get out of their own way!”
Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs and Wallflower in Bloom

“With wit, compassion, and a keen ear for dialogue Wilde explores issues of insecurity, envy, young motherhood, and friendship in this fast-paced work.”
—Publishers Weekly

“With her easy, amusing narrative style, Wilde speaks the language of women and communicates what lies in their hearts. Add to that a strong, genuine plot with expressive, intelligent yet flawed characters at the center, and you have a gem of a read.”
—RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

“A poignant, thoroughly entertaining tale of friends, family, and wanting more.”
—Valerie Frankel, author of Four of a Kind

“Wilder delivers an honest, unflinching and emotional look at the messy unpredictability of both motherhood and friendship.”
—Lisa Verge Higgins


Chapter 1

“I don’t want to be at the funeral for a cat. It’s ridiculous. And depressing.”

“She was a Himalayan,” I protested.

“Nora.” Annie shook her unruly brown curls at me, which only aimed them higher to the sky. “She was only a cat.”

“She was Tabitha’s cat. That is entirely different from being only a cat.”

“And look at the crowd.” Annie shook her head again, this time in disbelief. What appeared to be the vast majority of the faculty milled about outside the pristine white Colonial-style chapel on the campus of the Dixbie School, a suburban Boston co-ed boarding school for the moderately inept. We had all received Tabitha Hunter’s email detailing her plan for a full service with eulogy for Evangeline the cat and in loyalty to Tabitha, one of the most eccentric of our teaching staff, who also had deep ties both familial and financial to Dixbie, given up a gorgeous August afternoon to come together. Dixbie has many distinguishing features, among them the fact that the median age of teachers hovers near seventy. Tabitha Hunter, at eighty, though professing to be fifty, tips the scales in the geriatric direction, and on not a few occasions, parents on tours will ask if we don’t share our grounds with a retirement home. Tabitha is not our oldest teacher, but she is the most important. Her parents helped to found the school, and for lack of a better one, she serves as our mascot.

“Shall we go in?” Tabitha pronounced with her sumptuously articulated vowels. Unlike Annie, I liked Tabitha. “And darling,” Tabitha took my arm and pulled me to the side, allowing the rest of my colleagues to enter the chapel, “would you hold this for me?” She pressed a large silk bag with gorgeous red lions embroidered on a tapestry of orange, maroon, and deep purple into my arms. “I will be right back.” Then she hobbled down the narrow, tree-lined path in the direction of the main campus.

Annie, who’d already gone into the chapel, poked her head around the door and gave me a devastating look. “You’re the one who dragged me here and you’re not coming in? I don’t think so.”

I gestured to the bag in my arms. “Tabitha’s orders. I’m holding this for her.”

Annie stepped out of the chapel and came over to me. “Beautiful bag.” She lifted a hand and stroked it. “What’s it for?”

“I don’t--”

Annie drew in a sharp breath, stopping me mid-thought. “You don’t think? . . . Oh, my God. It’s the cat!” she squealed, and then covered her mouth. “She put the cat in there! That is so Tabitha.”

“Um.” I swallowed, feeling the bile rise in my throat. I’m not one to be squeamish under normal circumstances, but holding a dead cat, even in a lovely tapestry bag, was too much for me.

“I so wish I still smoked,” Annie said.

“It’s totally bad for you. And you’re breastfeeding. And you haven’t smoked for a decade.”

“All good points. Still, wouldn’t this be the perfect moment to light up? If we were in a movie, I’d be smoking now.”

“If we were in a movie, I wouldn’t actually be holding a dead cat. I’d be holding a bag made to look like it had a dead cat in it. Which would be much better. This is awful. Where did she go?” I looked along the pathway for Tabitha. A lone figure in black was walking in our direction but it wasn’t Tabitha. “Annie,” I whispered under my breath. “Look.” I pointed up the path.

The woman clad in black, with a sheer red shawl casually slung around her shoulders, strode toward us. In direct contrast to Annie’s wild, untamed do, her thick mane of gently waving blond hair rippled out behind her a la shampoo commercial. The kind where they succeed in making women look like their hair is rushing behind them in undulating tides, usually with the use of fans, lots of product, and airbrushing. Seeing a real, living breathing human being with that sort of style stoked the flames of my already raging inferiority complex.

“It’s her,” Annie said.

I’d like to say we didn’t stand there staring with our jaws brushing the ground, but we probably did. Cynthia Cypress had come.

“I hope I’m not late,” she said, stopping in front of us.

“No. We’re waiting for Tabitha.”

“Oh, how darling! I adore it.” She reached over and gave the bag an admiring pat.

“Evangeline’s in there,” Annie stated smugly, gratified to be the bearer of disgusting news.

“Well, we don’t actually know that. I mean, Tabitha only gave it to me to hold. She didn’t tell me what was inside. I guess it kind of does feel like a stiff cat body, if I really thought about it, but it could be any number of things. It could be--” Annie gave me her standard shut‑up look, and a well-practiced one as she’s known me since my fifth birthday, twenty-eight years ago. Over those nearly three decades I have availed myself of every opportunity to say stupid things. At that moment, instead of acting properly mortified for blathering on about feline rigor mortis, I started to think about my hair. Have I mentioned my hair--my limp, thin, mousy brown hair?

Cynthia shook her windswept tendrils in a graceful gesture of sympathy. “Well, it’s nice of you to help out.” Then she opened the chapel door and walked inside.