Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book 1- Nanny Returns

Nan Hutchinson, NYC nanny extraordinaire, is back 12 years after leaving the employ of the X family.

Since her first appearance in The Nanny Diaries (which was made into a film of the same name starring Scarlett Johansson as the title character), Nan been globe trotting for twelve years with her husband Ryan, aka HH, and now they have returned to NYC. They bought a "fixer upper" house in Harlem, she's opened her own HR consulting firm, and they're thinking of starting a family.

But being back in New York isn't as great as Nan thought it would be. And after a drunken evening visit from her former charge Grayer X, she needs to assuage some of the guilt. She let's Grayer con her into helping his younger brother, Stilton, get into a boarding school since the entire X family is falling apart: money trouble, the X's are finally divorcing, Mr. X moved out, mom is sick, a starlet as a potential step-mother... all this leaves Nan wanting to "fix" Grayer's life, and that of Stilton, because of how it was all left, those many years ago.

And Nan is on her own when her house collapses in pieces since Ryan is off in Africa saving the world. Nan's best friend is busy so she renews a friendship with Citrine, a formerly snotty high school friend- who might haven't changed into a possible good person/ good friend.

Everything unravels between Nan's house, the X's, a crazy consulting job she took for a private school staffed by psychotic board members, and her personal life. Can she cope?

I've waffled between liking this novel and not liking this novel. I appreciate having Nanny back and I like reading McLaughlin and Kraus, who I like as writers and consider the originators of 'chick lit.' What I find unbelievable is that Nan can be so dumb. Why does she let herself get sucked into these situations? I could see what was coming; why couldn't she? And she's a likable character, and a fairly smart character, so I hate it when she's portrayed as stupid, and when she make stupid mistakes.

I also am not a person who had money, I wasn't raised with money, and don't know people with the sort of money as characters in this book are portrayed so it blows my mind when the "rich" people do these horrid things, just thinking about the way the parents reacted to a school situation in the book- and Nan let it go on, even though it was her job to advocate for the teachers. Being a teacher myself, made this section of the book rather hard to take and was certainly not believable; but like I said I don't have money so I don't know how the rich and famous behave. (and yes I know this is fiction, but the co-authors are former nannies so you know some of this has to be fact based...!)

As a reader I also admire the timeliness of the content. Many of the characters, not the rich ones who operated in the X's social circles, had to face financial difficulties and challenges, just like in real life. Some of Nan's friends were working extra jobs or even selling their home and moving in with parents, just like in real life. But of course, the overbearing wealthy are fairly represented here, too.

I'd call this a good beach read, or a snow day read. A few laughs, but often just shaking my head in mock horror and disbelief.