In the 1980s, Nina Stibbe wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester describing her trials and triumphs as a nanny to a London family.
There’s a cat nobody likes, a visiting dog called Ted Hughes (Ted for short) and suppertime visits from a local playwright. Not to mention the two boys, their favourite football teams, and rude words, a very broad-minded mother and assorted nice chairs.
From the mystery of the unpaid milk bill and the avoidance of nuclear war to mealtime discussions on pie filler, the greats of English literature, swearing in German and sexually transmitted diseases, Love, Nina is a wonderful celebration of bad food, good company and the relative merits of Thomas Hardy and Enid Blyton.
At the age of 20, Nina Stibbe moved from Leicestershire to London to become a nanny. Later she studied at Thames Polytechnic and worked in publishing. She now lives in Cornwall with her partner and children.
©2013 Nina Stibbe (P)2013 Penguin Books Limited
“I adored this book, and I could quote from it forever. It’s real, odd, life-affirming, sharp, loving, and contains more than one reference to Arsenal FC” (Nick Hornby, The Believer)
"Adrian Mole meets Mary Poppins mashed up in literary north London... Enormous fun” (Bookseller)
“What a beady eye she has for domestic life, and how deliciously fresh and funny she is” (Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
“Despatches from Family Life is the laugh-out-loud story of the trials and tribulations of a very particular family. Breezy, sophisticated, hilarious, rude and aching with sweetness; Love, Nina might be the most charming book I’ve ever read” (Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette)
“Nina Stibbe is the funniest new writer to arrive in years. Love, Nina is her first book - a memoir so warm, so witty and so wise, it’s like finding the friend you always deserved” (Andrew O, Hagan)
Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.
I have already told my friends about this book - and even Twitter. It ws witty, charming and hilarious. I wish it had been longer.
A grown-up female Adrian Mole, perhaps. Or maybe early Nick Hornby.`
Nina Stibbe read her book and she was excellent. One knew where the emphasis was meant to be. Her sense of timing was superb. I felt as if I were in the same room as Nina.
I do not compare novels to films and do not watch Hollywood films.
The pacing, brevity of the sentences, incredible detail and humour made this book one I will most definitely listen to again. I couldn't get enough. I loved the literary scene and references to literature. Rare these days, but most welcome.
"A heartwarming and hilarious listen"
This is one of those books that I did not want to end. I want to buy it for all of my friends and would happily listen to it all over again. I feel bereft now I no longer have Nina Stibbe and the cast of characters from Gloucester Crescent in my life. These letters written to her sister Vic over a 5 year period in the 1980s are written and narrated in a very understated but incredibly heartwarming and funny style. Nina writes perfectly about the minutiae of daily domestic life and portrays the characters who live on or pass through Gloucester Crescent in a warm, funny, but never unkind way. I felt as though I were listening to letters from a friend. I loved the literary references which again, were so understated and Nina never becomes starstruck by any of the famous people she meets from the arts and literary world.
An absolute joy!
"Gorgeous, witty, warm book (and author/narrator)"
Gorgeous, witty, warm. HILARIOUS, actually.
The book is lots of little incidences; funny, dry, bittersweet, ironic, presented as letters to the author's sister, so it's hard to chose one from the hundreds of lovely, chuckley, sniggery anecdotes. One of my favourite recurring episodes though is when Nina describes goings on at Thames Polytechnic to Mary-Kay, the mother of the family she is a nanny for, and Mary-Kay's reactions. Always a mixture in varying proportions of the shocking, hilarious and banal - and Mary-Kay's responses are glorious. Because the stories take the form of letters to NS's sister, her tone is so personal, candid and familiar that I feel like I was sitting at the table with them for years myself.
Anything where she describes what she cooks for the family she works for, the conspiratorial tone is heightened even more here and her role at that time (and how she copes with it) are in sharp relief: caring, naive, clever, inventive.
When Mary-Kay offers for Nina to move back into No. 55, and Nina accepts - it lasted all of 30 seconds within the actual audiobook, but it forms a tiny explosion of joy and acceptance so much so that you realise the author's relationship with Mary-Kay before this point was always leading up to this. Such a British little blip of poignancy and warm-and-fuzziness.
Definitely, definitely, buy and listen to this, as your very next audiobook. Nina Stibbe is a tremendous author and narrator, and this is one of those books that is so hilarious and brilliant that afterwards you'll know it will be difficult to top it, and your next listen could only hope to be a disappointment in comparison. YOU. WILL. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. I promise.
"Perfect for late night reading"
I found this book by chance when excerpts were read over Christmas on Radio 4. The unabridged version is all the better for being narrated by Nina herself. It was enjoyable to be immersed in this lovely family's day to day living via Nina's witty commentary. If you are feeling tired at night and just want something light-hearted to listen to then this is the book is a pleasure. The family are all brought to life alongside memories of life during the 80's. I'm looking forward to Nina's next book - hurry up please!
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