Friday, 29 October 2010

Book Review: Nanny Returns by Nicola Kraus & Emma McLaughlin

Ten years after the fateful night when Nan was fired, she returns to New York with her husband, HH. Finally settling in to build a permanent home and get her consulting business off the ground, Nan's plans are derailed by HH's sudden desire to start a family - and her surprisingly strong resistance to the idea. Matters are further complicated by a late-night, drunken visit from a now fifteen-year-old Grayer, who's stumbled upon the nanny-cam tape Nan made on her last night in his mother's employment - and wants some answers. Racked with guilt and struggling to find a way to help Grayer and his seven-year-old brother, Stilton, through their parents' vicious divorce, Nan finds herself getting sucked into the Upper East Side world of wealth, power and dysfunction all over again. Set against the backdrop of a Manhattan economy cracking along the fault lines, The Nanny Returns plumbs the humour and heartbreak of a community who chose money over love, only to find the money evaporate - and their children ready to tell all.

You don’t necessarily need to have read the previous book The Nanny Diaries. This book stands by itself fairly well apart from a couple of references to previous events, which are easy enough to understand and figure out what happened.

Now, I didn’t really enjoy this book, but that isn’t what you think it means. Emma and Nicola are fantastic writers and I’ve loved their previous books, with The Nanny Diaries being the least fave…well, this one takes it’s place now. Nanny Returns was really easy to read, the plotline flowed easily and you really get to know the characters quickly. The reason I didn’t enjoy it was because of the story. It makes me absolutely terrified that people like Grayer, his parents and school peers actually exist. Terrifies. Me. I suppose that means Emma and Nicola did their job then.

Nan returns to New York after ten years of following HH (Harvard Hottie), her husband, round the globe with his job whilst getting her qualifications and whatnot in various countries. Not long after her return Grayer turns up on her doorstep, drunk, doesn’t really remember her, and isn’t impressed with Nan and the tape she left him when she was sacked as his nanny all those years ago.

Feeling guilty, Nan gets sucked back into the Xes’ lives because she wants to help Grayer and his little brother, Stilton, in whatever way she can. Add to that HH’s need to have children now and a new client for her business being a money school that panders to the students because mummy and daddy pay lots of money into the school, and you’ve got a complicated life for Nan. Oh yeah, and we’re at the start of the global recession.

As I said before, the story flows so easily that the reading of it was not an effort. It was the plot- the characters- that made me not enjoy it. Manhattan money people are scary, vicious human beings that shouldn’t have the privileges they have. Of course, I’m tarring them all with the same brush, I’m sure some, or maybe most are actually very nice people, but not in this book they weren’t.

If you don’t mind reading about your Average Joe trying to understand these money people while doing her thing, then this is for you. But if you’re like me and sit cringing with every page just reading the things these characters do and say, then avoid, avoid, avoid. Even saying that, I’m giving the rating that I am because the writing is fantastic and I can’t knock them for rounding out their characters so much that I hate them. Job well done on that front.


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