Thursday, May 20, 2010

With Reverent Hands: The Only Boy For Me

With Reverent Hands

I bring you with reverent hands / the books of my numberless dreams.
-WB Yeats, "A Poet To His Beloved"

WB Yeats, I'm sure, gave books to his beloved that he valued highly himself, and that he handled with reverence.  If you had to recommend a book you revered to someone, what would it be?
I'm asking you to highlight one book.  One book that you adore, that you prize, that changed your life, that you would save from a burning building, that you found serendipitously on a library shelf or at a used bookstore, looking lonely and ignored.  A book that thrills you but that, you have come to realize, no one else has really ever heard of, much less read.  With Reverent Hands is all about those books- the ones that deserve a wider audience than they are given and that you want everyone to go out and read, even if they are out of print.

If you would like to participate in the With Reverent Hands series of guest posts on this blog, please contact me and I'll send you the template!

This week's guest post is by one of my favorite bloggers!  Strangely, I only learned her real name when she emailed me her submission.  Zee writes at the fabulous Notes from the North, reviewing books in a cold climate for the betterment of us all.  She is a huge fan of Anne Shirley.  I also really like how she will review non-English books on her blog.  I always wish more international, dual language bloggers would do this because it gives me a sense of more of the  cultural nuances present in different areas.  Also, it makes me more likely to seek out translated books.  So I'm sure you can see why I am into the Zee, and I hope you check her out!

What book are you highlighting? 
The Only Boy for Me by Gil McNeil

When did you first read it? 
I'm going to guess in 2002 or 2003.  I was in college and I am resonably certain it wasn't during my first year.  I found it browsing the book shelves of one of my favourite bookstores, Waterstones on Princes Street in Edinburgh (West End), it is signed by the author and I thought it was cool, plus the book sounded funny.

What is it about?  Please give a brief summary. 
Annie is a single mom of a six year old boy named Charlie.  She works as a freelance producer in the advertising industry and lives in Kent, England.  It is a humorous tale of life in these two worlds, and life with a six year old boy whom she loves but still calls a stroppy little bugger.  We are introduced to several different people in her life.  The book follows Annie and Charlie for a year where many things change but many things also stay exactly the same. (I hate writing summaries, I'm not very good at it)

What makes the book stand out to you?  Why do you love it? 
Okay this is easier.  I love it because it makes me laugh.  It makes me laugh out loud sitting on the train.  It made me laugh when I was a college student without much experience with children and now that I have more experience with children it makes me laugh even more.  This book, although there are sad moments, NEVER fails to cheer me up.  Never!

Please finish this analogy:  If you liked _____________, you'll probably enjoy this book. 
Gilmore Girls (the early seasons).  It is the same rather dry wit.  Really, if you like anything that is witty and that makes you laugh out loud.

What sort of person would you recommend to read this book? 
This is a hard question.  It is chick lit but I don't want anyone to be but off by that label.  Because it is so incredibly funny, and poignant and ultimately pretty true.  It will probably appeal the most to those who have experience with children in general and mothers in particular.  That said, I'm not a mum and I love it!

Do you have any quotes you would like to share? 
I could share whole sections of the book, but here are some of my favourites (some with explanations for context):

Charlie and his classmates have just returned from a swimming trip. 

We parents split up into our usual groupings, identifiable by different parenting techniques. The Come Here Wayne or I'll Hit You division win hands down at getting their children into the car quickly. The Hello Darling Was Swimming Lovely I've Got Something Interesting to Tell You in the Car approach works fairly well, combined with determined eye contact and firm holding of hands, and Kate, Sally and I are off, madly inventing interesting things to talk about. But the dithering approach of Stop That George mixed with attempts to chat to other parents means that a fair number of people are in for a long night.

 Annie is telling her friend about a run-in with a nurse at the doctors office: 

'She was really starting to enjoy herself when that nice one came out from the back, you know, the one with short grey hair and glasses.'
'Oh yes, she's lovely.'
'Well, she said 'what seems to be the problem?' and Mrs Hitler began going into one again.  The waiting-room was full of people listening in, having a marvellous time.  I was just about to slap her, and claim I thought she was having some sort of fit, when the nice one said, 'That's quite enough, Mavis,' and then turned to me and said, 'I'm so sorry about that, she's just started on the hormones and I don't think they've got the dosage quite right yet.'

Annie's boss Barney is throwing a bit of a fit and Annie is trying to calm him down: 

'All right then, let's go for the old-fashioned approach. If you speak to me like that again I shall slap you hard, and then you'll be sorry. Just tell me what you want to do next, or shall I get them to build a nice big track while you have a little think?'


  1. I enjoyed the format of the review. Ladies you did a nice job.
    It is always fun to see what kind of books other bloggers love.

  2. Oh, yes, this does sound very funny, and being a mom, I am sure that this is a book I would love. Thanks so much, Zee, for sharing this one with us. I have never heard of this book before, but now I am wanting to go out and grab a copy. I particularly liked the quotes you provided. They were hilarious!

  3. This sounds like a delightful book! I agree, Zibilee, the quotes you provided are wonderful. They did their job, as now I really want to read this! Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Oh I love GG :D So if it is anything like that then yeah

  5. This sounds like a really fun book. I'm definitely going to be checking this one out.

  6. Haha, I love that you distinguish "Gilmore Girls (the early seasons)." Season 1—AMAZING. Then to me it just went progressively downhill. It's the same reason I always indicate "Friends (the early seasons)" when talking about favorite TV shows.

  7. This sounds awesome and hilarious - a perfect combination. I'm not put off by it being chick-lit at all. I don't really believe in that label, to be honest :P

  8. Great post. I will keep this book in mind, as I am interested in it. Thanks for highlighting it!


I read every comment posted on this blog, even if it sometimes takes me a while to respond. Thank you for taking the time and effort to comment here! Unless you are spamming me, in which case, thanks for nothing.