The Nanny

The Nanny

4.7 16
by Melissa Nathan

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Twenty-three-year-old Jo Green knows that if she has to spend one more night in ultra-provincial Niblet-Upon-Avon she'll go completely bonkers! So she answers an ad in the paper, bids her devoted boyfriend Shaun adieu, and heads off to the big city. With a new job that offers excitement; a cool car; and her own suite with a TV, DVD player, and a cell phone, how can


Twenty-three-year-old Jo Green knows that if she has to spend one more night in ultra-provincial Niblet-Upon-Avon she'll go completely bonkers! So she answers an ad in the paper, bids her devoted boyfriend Shaun adieu, and heads off to the big city. With a new job that offers excitement; a cool car; and her own suite with a TV, DVD player, and a cell phone, how can she go wrong?

Then she meets . . . the Fitzgeralds -- Dick and Vanessa and their unruly brood of rugrats who have suddenly been entrusted into Jo's care. There's eight-year-old "psycho-babe" Cassandra; bloodthirsty Zak, the six-year-old Terminator; and timid little Tallulah.

So what else could go wrong? How about the arrival of Dick's children from his first marriage: teenage Toby and (gulp!) all-grown-up-and-very-nicely-at-that Josh the accountant? And now that she has to temporarily share her room with Josh, Jo's head is really in a spin -- because with her hometown beau still in the picture and a sexy possibility sleeping just a foot away, life has suddenly gotten very complicated indeed!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When 23-year-old Jo (named for a much saltier Jo in Little Women) lands a surprise nanny job with the cosmopolitan and dysfunctional (of course) Fitzgerald family, she trades in her quiet smalltown home and her unexceptional boyfriend, Shaun, for life amid the bright lights of London. Duties include looking after Tallulah, Zak and Cassie (four, six and eight, respectively), keeping mum during parents Dick and Vanessa's constant bickering and getting along with Dick's sons by a previous marriage, Toby, 13, and Josh, 25. Unlike Jo's parents' shouting matches, the Fitzgeralds' marital rows consist of sarcastic verbal jousting ("Jo had never heard `darling' used as a term of abuse before"), while the younger children's squabbling is frequent and forgettable rather than funny. The 12-hour days leave Jo no time to be homesick, and she manages to bond with everyone except Josh, with whom she shares quarters. Beady-eyed readers will quickly suspect a romance between the two, which will blossom, then wilt, revive and falter. Meanwhile, Dick and Vanessa's marriage is in jeopardy, and Dick's finances are a mess. Jo loves the darling children, but she's not entirely lovable herself. Instead, she's a victim of self-deception surrounded by one-dimensional characters two-timing beau Shaun, sly best friend Sheila, remorseful Dick, harpy Vanessa. Though things look up toward the end, they're an unhappy bunch with untidy lives. Blimey, where's the fun in that? (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
No, no, not that New York Nanny-an English one. Sort of like Bridget Jones, but not so jaded, with unmistakable echoes of I Don't Know How She Does It and other chick-lit classics. Gather round, twentysomethings, and identify with spunky Jo Green, who leaves the peaceful village where she grew up, tired of the same old crowd at the same old pub, ready for something, anything, new. Bidding her mates and devoted boyfriend good-bye, she arrives in London, awed by the great city-but unimpressed by the beleaguered parents who hire her about a minute after their last nanny quit. Vanessa, an advertising exec, loathes all aspects of mommydom and openly prefers her clever colleagues to Dick, her henpecked husband. The Fitzgeralds indulge themselves endlessly in vicious bickering, which troubles Jo, though she soldiers on bravely nonetheless, somewhat comforted by her own suite, huge TV, and sole use of a Renault. The three adorable children are a handful, of course; and so Jo seeks advice from the other nannies, English and foreign (all accents duly noted and elaborately mocked). The young women dish on their obnoxious employers, confess to crushes on the better-looking husbands, and tell wide-eyed Jo how to wangle days off and perks such as facials and aerobic classes. Despite her devoted boyfriend's pleading, Jo hopes to find new love with her new life. Conveniently, Josh, Dick's grown son from a previous marriage, moves back home to (she thinks) sponge off his father. Josh breaks his leg, the two bond over heaps of ironing, and at last the truth is revealed: Dick has been unable to keep up his share of expenses, and Josh, a successful accountant, has been secretly slipping him money so dear olddad won't incur the simmering wrath of his bitchy wife. Can the marriage be saved? Will wedding bells ring for Josh and Jo? Equal melodrama and farce. Agent: Maggie Phillips/Ed Victor Agency

Product Details

Random House UK
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Read an Excerpt

The Nanny

Chapter One

Jo Green's eyes glazed over as she stared at the half-eaten cake on the table, twenty-three candles now splayed messily around it. How symbolic, she thought. One minute ablaze with light, warmly celebrating life's journey; the next, a crumbling testament to the disappointment and guilt that life's little highs invariably bring. Then she decided she really must stop listening to Travis.

She yawned. With the kitchen lights off, a soporific mood had descended upon them all like a sudden fog.

Her father, top trouser button undone, rubbed his hand over his stomach in smooth, rhythmic circles, conducting his body's quiet celebratory wind sonata, in several movements.

Jo and her mother exchanged glances.

"In some countries that's a great compliment," said Jo.

Hilda snorted. "Oh he's multilingual, your father."

Bill belched softly again and proceeded to rub his stomach the other way.

"I don't like to stop him," Hilda muttered. "He has so few hobbies." She shifted herself from the table. "Right. Who wants another cuppa?"

"Don't mind if I do," answered Bill.

"I'll make it," said Jo.

"On your birthday?" Hilda's eyes crinkled up in a smile that created so many lines in her flesh it left almost no room for her face. "Don't talk daft."

Bill slowly and carefully smoothed the edge of the tablecloth with his hand, manfully ignoring the female battle of wills being fought around him.

"Nobody makes coffee cake like your mother," he told Jo, pointing his finger at her.

"You can't have another piece." Hilda switched on the overhead light.

"Oh come on." He blinked. "It's the girl's birthday."

Hilda leaned back against the sideboard, hugging her grey cardigan round her while the kettle boiled.

"Go on then." She sighed.

Bill winked at Jo. "Another slice for the birthday girl?" he asked, wiping the knife clean on the edge of the cake plate.

"A sliver," said Jo. "Thanks."

"And for the chef?"

Hilda swirled hot water round the special-occasion teapot.

"Oh, go on, we might as well finish it off."

Jo watched her parents and when she remembered they could see her, smiled. And then her thought patterns executed a downward swoop of epic proportions. They started high up with Aren't I lucky? before nosediving without warning into Is this it? Then, with seconds to spare before exploding into a fireball of self-pity, up they arched, regaining their grip on the world with, Ooh, Must return video.

Jo's emotions had been trampolining all day. Her first waking thought as a twenty-three-year-old had been that she had joined the ever-growing group of birthday haters. Until last night, she'd always considered herself one of those lucky types who loved birthdays. She now realized that this was because, up until now, she had been young. Twenty-three, for some reason, signaled the end of an era for her more conspicuously than a Hollywood sound track.

As her emotions continued to yo-yo, with rather more emphasis on the downward than upward "yo," the Green family started their second round of tea and cake in a cosy, yet somewhat reverential, silence.

All too soon normal service was resumed. "Seeing Shaun and the others tonight?" began her mother. "Mm. "Nice lad, that Shaun.


Hilda's concentration was temporarily waylaid by an untidy slice of coffee cake, but before long she was back on track.

"Sheila's a good girl, too."


"Just needs to lose a little weight," added her father, bang on cue. More cake, more tea.

"Wonder when James'll do the honorable thing and make an honest woman of her," mused Hilda.

"When she's lost a little weight I shouldn't wonder," concluded Bill.

Her parents drained the last of the tea, the predictability of their conversation satisfying them that the earth still spun on its axis, while Jo had a disturbing snap vision of birthday cake hurled against the floral wallpaper.

"Thanks for the cake, Mum," she said quickly, and got up. "I'll be off. See you later."

"Bye, love," chorused her parents, her mother heaving herself up to clear away the birthday things.

As she shut the front door behind her, Jo took a long, deep breath and set off for the pub. She tried not to hear in her head the conversation she knew her parents would be having now about Shaun's intentions toward her. She tried to concentrate on her walk.

Jo loved walking. It reminded her she was connected to the earth, a living, breathing masterpiece of functional perfection, an act of God that proved miracles really did exist, a monument to --

"Who's got a face like a slapped arse then?" came a sudden voice.

Jo turned to face John Saunders, who was loitering on the corner of the deserted village High Street. Being told your face resembled a slapped arse would be an insult from anyone, but coming from John Saunders, whose face appeared to be on inside out, was enough to put anyone on a downer.

Jo managed a smile for her old classmate.

"All the better to bullshit you with," she said. "Ooh, that Man-at-JCPenney's look really works for you."

John's eyebrows flickered, his mouth twitched, and a general air of confusion surrounded him like a palpable aura, which Jo knew meant his brain was cranking into gear. She decided to leave before steam started escaping from his ears.

As she walked away from the High Street toward the bridge, her emotional yo-yo flicked neatly upward. The bridge always reminded her of her first kiss with Shaun. Then she realized that was six years ago -- only one year away from the seven-year itch-and she could almost hear a whirring sound of the downward "yo."

At the end of the bridge, she turned abruptly to the right without looking back and crunched her way over the gravel path past the church graveyard ...

The Nanny. Copyright © by Melissa Nathan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Melissa Nathan was born and raised in Hertfordshire and now lives in North London with her husband. A journalist for ten years, she writes novels full time and is the acclaimed author of The Nanny and Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field.

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The Nanny 4.7 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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sugarpy18 More than 1 year ago
This is a very cute book about relationships, work, being unfullfilled, all written in a clever way. The protagonist is highly likable and you want her to succeed in her life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Melissa's books have been some of the most enjoyable books I've read when I've needed a feel-good book to escape in. I was very sad to learn she passed away 2 years ago, so there will be no more of her entertaining characters to meet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where else can one find a great job, with a great house, with a great car, and with a great romantic possibility? At the Fitzgerald's lovely Victorian home in London. Enchanted by Ms. Nathan's uplifting prose, I laughed, I fumed, and I sighed blissfully as I closed the cover over the words The End. Interestingly enough, I read The Nanny during Hurricane Gustav. With no electricity for a week, The Nanny was a wonderful diversion!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story! Hilarious, romantic, but not too swoony. Finally, a chicklit piece with some depth. Everyone will be able to relate to the Fitzgeralds and their not-quite-perfect Jo Green. Arguably my favorite book. Take it on vacation, on the plane, etc. with you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hilariously clever. I've never quite laughed out loud as much as i have with this book. It's one of your typical chick-lit stories. Born and bred in a sleepy village, spunky Jo pines for a more exciting life and so on a whim takes up a nanny job for the sterotypically dysfunctional, yet totally unique Fitzgeralds. This book is a book to adore, and read over and over so that those warm fuzzy moments, the laugh out loud ones and the tearful scenes play on your heartstrings yet again. It's a beautiful book. It mocks it's own story, yet create's an original and compulsive read. You fall in love with Nathan's witty characters. She's the jane Austen of our generation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable. I giggled all the way through it. Fun characters, especially the kids. It's a light read but one you might want to read again soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was truly wonderful--I couldn't put it down. Melissa Nathan created lovable and witty characters. I found myself laughing out loud too many times to count. I would reccommend this book to anyone looking for a light-hearted fun read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I simply loved this book. I've read her other books and simply love the characters she creates. You instantly fall in love with them and feel like you know them from page one. You go through all of their emotions so that, in the end you, seem like you lived their lives. I would definately pick this book up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
such an amazing book. must read. i cant wait to get my hands on her other novels including the waitress due out in a year or two....if you're expecting this to be similar to the nanny diaries, its not...but it wont let you down....
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the best book I have read this summer, and I HAVE read a lot of books! It is a wonderful book! I was attracted to it by it's cover, and I am so glad that I decided to read it, because it is one of my favourite books! Praise to Melissa Nathan!
lovin_er_books More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this one. I read "Pride, Prejudice, & Jasmine Field" and liked it a lot, so I gave this book a shot and wasn't disappointed. My biggest complain would have to be the language. It seems like a lot of English writers don't have a problem throwing the "F" word out there a lot, and this book definintely said it more times than I was comfortable with (I'd rather not have it in there at all), but the story was still a fun one and I'd recommending it for anyone looking for a little romantic fluff. I particularly loved the part the kids played in the book. Very cute.