What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill

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What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill

Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Katie Pullen
Reviewed by Katie Pullen
Summary: An entertaining look at family life from the viewpoint of young nanny Ali Sparrow as she lives and works with the rich and influential Skinner family. Ali is at the centre of the drama as the family moves from boom to bust as the credit crunch hits and the family are directly effected by the fall of Lehman Brothers. An easy, fun read, with plenty of seriousness thrown in for good measure.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 560 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0241952559

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Ali Sparrow is twenty-one and has just dropped out of university (albeit hopefully temporarily) as she needs to earn some money, so becoming a nanny to a rich family seems ideal when she sees Bryony Skinner's advert. Soon Ali finds herself central to the Skinner's vast home and life on the rather exclusive Holland Park Crescent in a house that extends way beyond the usual two floors.

Ali soon discovers that life is certainly different in the Skinner house when she begins her new job. First she has twin five year old boys to deal with, who cannot bear to be apart from one another and have developed their own language. Then there's Izzy, a teenage girl clearly needing help and guidance as she fights some kind of eating disorder, and lastly there's Jake, luckily the least demanding of the children as he is only a few years younger than Ali. Ali also has to deal with matriarch Bryony Skinner, a woman with many demands when it comes to her children, but who is also keen to devote as much time as possible to her PR career and thinks nothing of being able to invite Elton John to sing at her next party. Lastly there's Nick Skinner, a successful millionaire banker who is barely home, but whose career trajectory will soon result in the status quo of the household becoming anything but smooth.

Ali comes across as someone much older than her twenty-one years as she takes on the role of nanny without much difficulty in a household that is certainly not your average. I was pretty impressed by her ability to take on board what are at times ridiculous demands from Bryony, a woman clearly obsessed with ensuring her children are above average in every way. Surely someone so young would flounder, but not Ali who takes it all in her stride and puts up with quite a lot, although there are some perks along the way. Life with the Skinners clearly suits her though as it allows her to become consumed with every detail of their lives, which in turn allows her to forget about the one she has left behind, a life she is clearly uncomfortable with, mainly thanks to her drug-addicted sister.

As a result Ali becomes an observer, rather than a participant in life, as her world is taken over completely by her charges, Bryony and the extended family (a host of colourful and entertaining characters), and it is clear that this is what Fiona Neill had in mind judging from the book title. I found this a little frustrating at first as I felt Ali had become someone merely existing for the purpose of others, as she really has no life of her own to speak of. This does change somewhat as the book progresses, but unfortunately I was still left with a sense of not knowing who she really was come the end.

Ali's story, or I perhaps should say the story of the Skinners, is all very readable and entertaining and certainly easy to get through, although there really isn't that much of a plot going on. It's a great fly on the wall look at how the other half live if you like, but it does have its more serious side when the downfall of the family begins, it's just a shame that the book really doesn't get going until this point, but when it does the pace certainly speeds up. I don't claim to know anything about the banking world, finding all the jargon confusing to say the least, but thankfully Fiona Neill steers us through it all easily, but not in a patronising way when the family become hit by the scandal of Lehman Brothers.

A definite recommendation for anyone looking for something light, easy, well written and just that little bit different to the standard chick lit read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further Reading Suggestion: If you like the sound of this book, you may also enjoy The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill or The Nanny by Melissa Nathan.

Buy What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill at Amazon.com.


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