THE ONLY BOY FOR ME

Gil McNeil, Author
Gil McNeil, Author . Bloomsbury $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-58234-223-8
Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Paperback - 276 pages - 978-0-7475-5482-0
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4088-2592-1
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7475-7841-3
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7475-5776-0
Hardcover - 7 pages - 978-0-7531-3802-1
Hardcover - 8 pages - 978-0-7531-2783-4
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Single mother Annie Baker knows she hasn't got it all figured out, but she thinks she's doing okay: a house in a nice town outside of Kent, a production job demanding only that she come into London a couple of days a month, lovely parents and available babysitters, several other single mother friends in the village. And she adores her six-year-old, Charlie. Who wouldn't? He's charming, precocious and adorably intelligent even when having a tantrum. Despite Charlie's cute habit of ending up in her bed each night, Annie knows what she is missing, and it shows up in the form of Mack MacDonald, high-powered ad exec. He's gorgeous, rich and tired of all those foolish, beautiful model types, of whom he says, "none of them are sexy. At all." When Charlie becomes very ill, Annie's priorities turn themselves right side up, and she resists Mack's attempt, albeit motivated by love, to convince her to relocate to be with him. While it's nice to see Annie refusing to uproot still-recovering Charlie from his familiar surroundings, the novel as a whole is just a single-mother version of the average romantic comedy. First novelist McNeil (who is a single mother and lives in Kent) is mining the vein of Helen Fielding or Nick Hornby, but she seems to have absorbed the details of humorous writing without the overarching sense of irony. Most of the amusement comes from Charlie's habits and conversations (cute bums, cute food preferences, cute comments on life) but this one-note laugh track quickly wears thin. Annie's life is pretty successful from the start, so perhaps the only irony required is McNeil's willingness to eschew the expected ending. Otherwise, single motherhood has never seemed so easy or so slow. (Feb. 7)

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