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Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life | [Nina Stibbe]

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (10 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 11-11-13
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 11-11-13 Member Since 2010

    Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    69
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    49
    49
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    FOLLOWING
    4
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    Story
    "An hilarious and joyful look into an era"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have already told my friends about this book - and even Twitter. It ws witty, charming and hilarious. I wish it had been longer.


    What other book might you compare Love, Nina to and why?

    A grown-up female Adrian Mole, perhaps. Or maybe early Nick Hornby.`


    What does Nina Stibbe bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I do not compare novels to films and do not watch Hollywood films.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results
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  • Saffy
    UK
    11/24/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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!

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    Dartford, United Kingdom
    12/23/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gorgeous, witty, warm book (and author/narrator)"
    If you could sum up Love, Nina in three words, what would they be?

    Gorgeous, witty, warm. HILARIOUS, actually.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Love, Nina?

    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.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Victoria
    United Kingdom
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Can't work out why this is a book"

    I think the idea behind this is great. However I had to abandon it after an hour as it was driving me mad. This is a one sided conversation with no context - I had no idea who anyone was and it made it hard to care what was going to happen. I really felt like the sisters views were necessary to balance the writer and help the listener understand. Perhaps if I had carried on it would have been fine but I had so many other books of rather listen to it felt like a waste of my time. A good idea in principle but very poorly delivered.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    5/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very funny and easy to dip in and out of"
    What did you like most about Love, Nina?

    That it's true! Well, I hope it is although I guess the author may have polished her letters a little bit. The book is a series of letters written by a nanny to her sister.

    What fascinated me was how well Nina integrated into the family she was working for, as well as their friends and neighbours. She cared so well for the boys she was looking after and must have been great fun for them, more like an older sister. I was impressed how she wasn't deferential to Mary Kay etc. and I think it was because of this that she was almost perfect for their family whereas another family probably wouldn't have got on with her at all.

    I particularly liked how she said she didn't worry about Sam's medical condition because his mother could do the worrying so she didn't have to, yet she was still closely monitoring his eyes when she wasn't putting him in skips, pushing him into the swimming pool etc. She just accepted the family as they were which was perfect. Some of her cooking stories made me laugh a lot, I wouldn't have fancied having to eat them.


    What other book might you compare Love, Nina to, and why?

    I can't think of anything I've ever read like it.


    What three words best describe Nina Stibbe’s voice?

    calm amused real


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No but I don't think that's a criticism. I didn't want it to stop so almost dragged it out so I had snippets to look forward to.


    Any additional comments?

    I have the paper copy of this book which I'd already read but I was intrigued to hear the audio version because it's read by the author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    Clavering, United Kingdom
    5/13/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Utter brilliant, so candid and so funny."

    The characters and stories are beautifully drawn in this series of letters from Nina to Vic, her sister about her life as a nanny and student in London. Just about the normal matters of day to day life but written with such lightness of touch and humour. A sheer joy that had me gasping in amazement at its candour and laughing out loud over and over again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • MILACKU
    UK
    3/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Benedict
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Effortlessly charming"

    Nina Stibbe is delightful as the reader – adding in great humour and comic timing and impersonations of the characters of her life in the 80s. An incredibly warm and funny set of diaries, plus a subtle education in English literature in parallel. The boys Nina looks after have huge personalities as do their mum and the various cameo characters and it comes to life brilliantly in the audio version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Annie
    Bodrum, Turkey
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Alan Bennett influence"

    I loved this memoir. It has no pretentions to grandeur but excels as a tale of an ordinary girl in a extraordinary world. Told through letters to her sister, Nina leaves a Midlands town to work as a nanny for one of London's literary glitterati. Her complete indifference to the intellectual stars who cross her path is very funny and refreshing. She is completely unimpressed by Alan Bennett, finding his constant presence at the dinner table a nuisance. I'm impressed that although 30 years have passed, the author reading her own work still sounds about 20 years old.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Yvonne South
    6/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unbelievably tedious"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I listened to about 40 minutes of this and had to give up on it. I can't think of anything that may have improved it, I was expecting something along the lines of Ladies of Letters but was sadly disappointed.


    What will your next listen be?

    Something that actually has a story line


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment and boredom


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • thomas
    5/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fabulous book for any forty something"
    If you could sum up Love, Nina in three words, what would they be?

    Laughs all the way through


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Love, Nina?

    It was a fnatastic trip down memory lane


    Which character – as performed by Nina Stibbe – was your favourite?

    Loved Nina and Alan Bennet


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend the book to anyone who grew up in the 80's

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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