A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story

A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story

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by Brenda Ashford
     
 

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Brenda Ashford was a real-life Mary Poppins. Caring for over one hundred children during her lifetime as a nanny, her charges ranged from the pampered sons and daughters of grand estates or the tough offspring of WWII evacuees in London’s East End. Now, in A Spoonful of Sugar, Britain’s longest-serving nanny shares her endearing, amusing, and

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Overview

Brenda Ashford was a real-life Mary Poppins. Caring for over one hundred children during her lifetime as a nanny, her charges ranged from the pampered sons and daughters of grand estates or the tough offspring of WWII evacuees in London’s East End. Now, in A Spoonful of Sugar, Britain’s longest-serving nanny shares her endearing, amusing, and sometimes downright bizarre experiences turning generations of children into successful adults.
 
Nanny Brenda says:

“All mothers are quite brilliant in my eyes and nine times out of ten don’t realize the sacrifices they undertake or the powerful contributions they make.”

“Little folk deserve a childhood that’s full of fun. It’s the single most valuable lesson in my eyes.”

“Everyone knows you simply can’t retire from love. Children leave you; you don’t leave children. That’s the natural order of things.”

“I have puzzled many times over the ingredients for a perfect recipe for a happy home. It needs to be a place with parents who worship their offspring. Throw in some stability, a dash of routine, and respect.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Trained formally in the prestigious Norland Institute that once graced Pembridge Square, London, Ashford spent 62 years raising England’s children, recounting in this charming, sentimental memoir how she loved every minute of it. Her chronicle opens during the 1930s, when she was growing up in a large loving family in Surrey, the second daughter of a prosperous shop owner who fell on hard times; describing herself as rather naïve and unintellectual, Ashford was allowed to quit school at 16, and with encouragement from her mother, attended Norland’s as a “bursary” student, beginning in 1939. She was fitted with a starched uniform (a source of great pride) and immersed in a rigorous curriculum over many months involving nursery management, sewing, laundry, and hospital training, among other domestic and child-care arts, all executed with impeccable neatness, alacrity, and love. Her first jobs involved caring for the young London evacuees removed to the countryside during the Battle of Britain; these segued into employment at numerous grand aristocratic homes in Devon and Kent, involving plenty of quirky parents and needy children, all described in the sweet as pudding, unflappable English tone of the beloved elderly nanny who had a knack for calming children and instilling confidence in their beleaguered mothers. Of a sadly vanishing generation once acquainted with plimsolls and junket, who drop old-fashioned advice for the myriad uses of olive oil and create toys out of anything handy, Ashford is surely a national treasure. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Britain's beloved oldest living nanny tells all; she's cared for more than 100 children in 62 years.
Kirkus Reviews
Reflecting on her 62 years as a nanny, Ashford presents a delightful compilation of memories, child care tips and insights from a radically different time and place. Contemporary mothers will discover the trove of practical advice just as useful today as it was in 20th-century England. At the age of 92, she has been heralded as Britain's longest-serving nanny. Ashford began her "nanny boot camp" training at the prestigious Norland Institute in 1939. "I never dreamed when I graduated from the Norland Institute at eighteen that I'd still be looking after babies when I was eighty!" writes the author. Ashford's career included caring for children of aristocrats, working in a war nursery, caring for a rather shifty family with dubious associates and working at a "sprawling family farmhouse…set in acres of beautiful grounds." Ashford ably weaves together her personal observations on social and cultural changes and her child care stories. "As we entered the 1950s a nanny in a uniform seemed strangely outdated," she writes. "Society was changing, and I had to be seen to be changing with it." The author never married, but rather devoted her life to creating the happiest homes she could for her families. For a decade, Ashford was what she called a "troubleshooting nanny," moving from house to house, helping new mothers get back on their feet and establishing a stable routine for the household. At 80, she came out of retirement, helping a young mother who had once been one of her charges with her two children. Ashford recounts a life filled with love, devotion and hard work--a snapping good story by a true British treasure.
From the Publisher
"For anglophiles and Downton Abbey fans, a memoir of 62 years of nannying."
-The New York Times

"Ashford presents a delightful compilation of memories, child care tips and insights from a radically different time and place. . . .  A snapping good story by a true British treasure." -Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385536417
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.64(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.18(d)

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