One of the saddest disappointments in reading is to wait longingly for a book based on its author’s merits, only to have it turn out wretchedly. Unfortunately, I’ll Take What She Has is the epitome of such a book. Truthfully, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the book is full of angst and discontent, as its title suggests.
Despite its easy to follow and lyrical writing, the text is nearly 400 pages of the main characters Nora and Annie griping about what they do not have in life. It doesn’t seem to matter that Annie has two beautiful children and is taken care of by her partner, or that Nora has a wonderful husband, even if they are as of yet childless. The entire book is nothing but self-centered complaining from two women who cannot see how good their lives are, while sneering down their noses at women who have made choices different from their own.
It is those other characters whom I could most feel for. Cynthia, the lithe and gorgeous woman who marries the man the Nora still pines for, and the women in the town who apparently married too well for Annie’s tastes, are all the victims of our so-called heroines’ jabs and criticisms. Snide remarks about their wealth, their makeup, their parenting styles all lead the readers to have absolutely no sympathy or common ground with the two women with whom we are supposed to identify.
There are some bright sides, such as the portrayal of characters that the heroines want us to hate but that we just can’t. The anxiety and tension created by these relationships is well-written and unforced, a real tribute to the writing style and author’s craft.