24/05/2006

The Nanny (by Melissa Nathan)

'The Nanny' isn't the kind of book I would usually read, falling as it does into the 'chick-lit' category with a rather garish cartoon-like front cover. But I read an excellent review of it which inspired me to try it, and recently bought it second-hand.

The author, Melissa Nathan - who apparently died recently at a young age - uses an informal style, tinged with light humour and language that's rather too strong for my liking at times. Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable story with excellent characterisations and well-paced action. Jo, a 23-year-old trained nanny from a 'working class' background, decides to move away from home and take a new job with a higher salary in London. There she suffers immense culture shock as she becomes part of the health-conscious and exhausting Fitzgerald household, taking charge of three delightful children.

There are plenty of sub-plots, involving the unlikely relationship between the children's parents, and also their two half-brothers, new friends that Jo makes, and her confusion about the long-term boyfriend Shaun whom her parents idolise. Some of these people are rather caricatured, but it doesn't really matter; Jo herself and the three children are believable and warm, and I found myself almost unable to put the book down. It has over 500 pages and I read it in two days.

Ideal for older teenagers or adults wanting a light read that's rather deeper than the average in this genre.

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