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Annie Baker's life could not be more complicated: her sister Lizzie wants her to be her birthing partner once she goes into labour, her boss Barney has her working like a demon as he tries to make even more outrageous commercials and her friends Kate and Laila are either wrapped up in new men or having an affair with their ex-husband. Her son Charlie has now decided he wants to be a Pagan and wants a pet pheasant, dog and ferret and she also has to look after her old, and slightly mad, Uncle Monty. To top it all off, just when she thinks she's getting over Mack, he comes waltzing back into her life. What's a girl to do?
After loving Gil McNeil's debut novel The Only Boy For Me, I set about looking up Gil's other books. I looked at them all and noticed there was a sequel to The Only Boy For Me and that made my day. I was thrilled that I'd have the chance to get back into Annie's - and more importantly Charlie's - world and couldn't believe it when I spotted In The Wee Small Hours in the book swop a month or so ago. I finally got around to reading it and found myself easily sucked into Annie's chaotic life.
While you don't have to read The Only Boy For Me before you read In The Wee Small Hours, I suggest you do because it's hilariously funny and sets the scene perfectly for book two. In The Wee Small Hours picks up Annie Baker's life around six months after The Only Boy For Me ends and I was quickly sucked back into Annie's world. Gil McNeil's writing style is very smooth and she's crafted such fantastic characters that I found myself whizzing through the book. The chapters are quite long so you would have to set some time free to be able to really get stuck into the book especially if you like to finish a chapter before you finish reading for the day/night.
Annie's life was rather hectic in The Only Boy For Me and it carries on throughout In The Wee Small Hours. Annie seems to lurch from one crisis to the next; her sister's impending labour, her precocious son, having to look after her mad Uncle Monty as well as having to deal with her boss Barney not to mention the fact that Mack walks back into her life after leaving for New York in the first book. All of the characters from the first book return and it's as if I never left them - regardless of the fact I read The Only Boy For Me months ago. There isn't one major plot to In The Wee Small Hours, there are lots of mini plots, all of which I mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph.
Annie makes a fantastic heroine. I could read about her and Charlie's life all day. She's incredibly independent, she's fiercely protective of all of her friends and she's just an incredible character. Like the first book it's Charlie that really helps to carry the book. He's one of my favourite child characters in any book. The statements he comes out with and the randomness with which he chooses his religion/his pets always makes me laugh. It's easy to imagine Charlie as a real little person and I'd love to know who Gil modelled him off. Annie's friends and family are ever-present throughout the book. Laila, Kate and Sally are Annie's best friends and they're all there whenever Annie needs them. All three could have separate books if Gil wanted to do that and I'd happily read them. Annie's mother, father and sister are always around and I loved Lizzie, Annie's sister. My favourite character over both books, bar Charlie and Annie, had to be Barney, Annie's director boss. He loves his job and loves making adverts with crazy stunts and I thought he was just hilarious. The way he wound Lawrence (Annie's co-worker) throughout both books made me laugh out loud. I have to say that I really liked Annie's Uncle Monty. He may have been a tad mad but I really liked him and felt so sorry for him since he'd lost his wife. Mack was a weird character for me. I liked him for the most part but found him very pig-headed also.
As I mentioned above, Gil's writing is very relaxed and an easy style to read. The entire book is told from Annie's point of view (like the first one) which is the perfect style for this kind of book. I read 70 or so pages a few days ago, got hooked but since I've been busy I haven't had chance to pick it up for days yet when I started it again today from page 70 I got straight back into the story and it was like I hadn't not read a page for three days. The ending of the book was incredibly surprising and very tragic. I had a funny feeling somebody was going to die and I knew who my money was on so to lose someone else was completely unexpected and took me completely by surprise. Up until that point I would have happily read a third book in the series but I feel it wouldn't be worth it after losing such an important character to the story.
In The Wee Small Hours was a fantastic read and if you haven't read one of Gil McNeil's books then I hugely recommend you pick one up. I've only read two of her books but I hugely enjoyed both and have her Divas Don't Knit/Needles and Pearls to read and I look forward to devouring them. I will say one thing though: read The Only Boy For Me first. Not because it's necessary but because it's a fantastic read and you can read In The Wee Small Hours straight after-wards. Hugely recommended.