Claire, a composer and a new mother, comes to L.A. so her husband can follow his dream of writing TV comedy. With Paul working all hours and Claire left with a baby, William, whom she adores but has no idea how to care for, they hire Lola - a 52-year-old mother of five who works in America to pay for her own children's education back in the Philippines. Lola stabilizes the rocky household, and other parents try to lure her away. What she sacrifices to stay with Claire and William remains her own secret.
©2010 Mona Simpson (P)2010 BBC Audio
"Funny, smart, and filled with razor sharp observations about life and parenthood, Simpson’s latest is well worth the wait.” (Publishers Weekly)
I didn't read the print version, but I did enjoy the audio version. The narrator does a very good job of giving each character a recognizable voice, making the dialog easy to follow, the internal discussion easy to recognize. This is definitely the type of book that lends itself to a well done audio production.
I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys a glimpse into others lives and getting a chance to see others point of view, but at times it was a bit like watching a reality TV show. If you want an easy listen with great narration, then this is a good choice.
I loved the scene where Lola travels with Claire to the performance in NY and sneaks out to buy the baby formula. It gave me reassurance that my neuroticism with my first born child wasn't all the different from others like me and it gave time to pause and give thanks for the women who helped me when I was working full time and raising small children, bringing me courage and comfort and expertise and confidence to one of the scariest roles I'll ever fill.
I know it seems cliche, but I would like to take Lola out and its because she is the most down to earth of them all; after raising her own children, she continues to sacrifice for them in ways we as American mothers can't imagine. Her move from being near the top of the social order in the Phillipines to near the bottom in America and her humility and grace are worthy of recognition and exploration.
The book rang true in many ways to my life in Los Angeles, but I will say that the Preschool Director is not given a fair representation. My child went to the best preschool in the greater LA basin, there in Santa Monica, and our Director was a wonderful asset and resource. My children are long past preschool age and I am still grateful to her for the environment she gave to my child.
I enjoyed the perspective on Hollywood life - particularly the updated fashion details. From dinner jackets and gowns back in the 50's to jeans and backwards ball caps in the late 90's?
I still have not a clue as to why writers persist in telling stories about life in the 80's and 90's. Can they not deal with the Internet, smartphones and texting as features of current life?
However I did like the format of telling the story from the POV of both the nannies and the employers, though for me the writer created much more interest in the employer couples, and after I lost track of all the characters in the nanny stories I found I was FF-ing to the family/employer stories. The Filipino accent was annoying, though the narrator was perfect otherwise. No accents or strange quirks which some people find appealing but which I dislike.
I would have liked a little more story development on the aspy/autism child, or how he was perceived as such by a lay person, and how it impacted the protagonist couple's attempts to achieve status amongst their peers in the various social groups in "Hollywood", in quotes because the word means more than a zip code. In general the characters were not stereotypes, especially the portrayal of the main character's mother, which had me laughing out loud, particularly at her voice.
I alternated between listening to and reading this book, as I do with many books. Unlike most of the other audio books I've listened to, I felt that the narrator detracted from this book. Half of the book is in the voice of a Filipina nanny; I felt that the narrator's accent was overdone and condescending. Also, I felt that the narrator inserted a wry satirical tone in places that were inappropriate. Overall, I felt that the narration blunted much of the subtlety of the characters' voices.
I really liked the narrator for this book. She is perfect for this story. It is not very often I feel like I am 'peeping in' on someones real life, but the author pulls this off so well. I felt like I was a part of that household.
Wow. It was a good book
The book starts off a little slow and I had a hard time relating to the, initially, whiny and helpless Clair. Howevever, the author develops her character to a new maturity and insight. Lola is admirable in her tenacity and insight. And, the narrator excellent.
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