Published 7 November 2013
This book is entirely made up of the letters Nina wrote to her sister Victoria. Starting from when she took the job in the literary household of Mary-Kay Wilmers, as a nanny to her two sons, Sam and Will. The letters span five years up to the day Nina leaves Thames Poly, the move to London sparking the beginning of her academic career.
I found it hard to get to grips with this book at first, with no narrative and frequent initials for the characters in the letters it was a little hard to work out who was who but once that was sorted I became fascinated by the household. Mary-Kay has some wonderful one-liners, I got the impression of a woman who only says what she means and most of that is quite acerbic which I loved. The two boys being around 9 & 10 when the letters start also come across as intelligent and quick-witted boys and the conversations transcribed in the letters whilst sat around the table eating dinner made me smile time and again.
Nina is an adventurous cook, soliciting recipes from all sorts of sources, including the playwright neighbour Alan Bennett but always makes her own amendments! This isn’t a book about the boring tasks that Nina must have undertaken as a nanny though, rather it is a look at a household, its visitors and of course Nina’s comedic take on life. There is also her views of the books she reads, first while taking her A Level and then as she ponders her texts at the Poly. Her ambivalent friendship with a fellow student or two, experimental hair-dying and her fledgling relationship with a former neighbour all go under the microscope sooner or later in the Wilmers’ household
All in all a different type of read, it is a little bizarre reading one side of a conversation although there is no doubt about the closeness of the two sisters. I found it was a great way of lifting my mood as I couldn’t help the occasional chuckle at the antics of all the characters that made their way into Nina’s letters.
I received this book free from Netgalley in return for my honest opinion.
Love Nina was the seventh book read for the COYER challenge
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