What the Nanny Saw

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It’s the summer of 2008. For the past decade Nick and Bryony Skinner and their four children have ridden high on the economic boom, but their luck is about to run out. Suddenly, the privileged family finds itself at the center of a financial scandal:
their Central London house is besieged by the press, Nick disappears, and Bryony and the children become virtual prisoners in their own home. And Ali, their trusted nanny, watches it all. As the babysitter, she brings a unique ...

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What the Nanny Saw

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Overview

It’s the summer of 2008. For the past decade Nick and Bryony Skinner and their four children have ridden high on the economic boom, but their luck is about to run out. Suddenly, the privileged family finds itself at the center of a financial scandal:
their Central London house is besieged by the press, Nick disappears, and Bryony and the children become virtual prisoners in their own home. And Ali, their trusted nanny, watches it all. As the babysitter, she brings a unique insider-outsider perspective to the family, seeing far more than even the family itself is capable of. But when a reporter with a personal connection to the story comes asking her for the inside scoop, will Ali remain loyal to the family who never saw her as anything other than the help? Or will she tell her side?

Written with Fiona Neill’s delicious humor and addictive style, What the Nanny Saw is a keenly observed, often comical chronicle of the urban wealthy elite, of parents who are often too busy to notice what is going on under their own noses, of children left to their own devices, and of a young nanny thrown into a role she doesn’t know how to play. It is a morality tale of our time, a tale of betrayal, the corrosive influence of too much money, and why good people sometimes do bad things.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Filthy-rich Bryony and Nick Skinner wanted a modern-day Mary Poppins, but what they needed was a superwoman who could “tread on the map of family life without leaving a big imprint.” Twenty-one-year-old Ali Sparrow was perfect: eager to raise money to finish school, get away from a going-nowhere affair, and escape her own troubled family. London columnist and bestselling author Neill (The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy) concocts a darkly fascinating portrait of the stupid-rich, and the morally superior immigrant maids they press into service. In Ali’s case, it soon becomes clear that her real job isn’t just plugging domestic gaps in the lives of a banker and his wife, but rather “actually running the show,“ a tricky task involving needy five-year-old twins Hector and Alfie; insecure, anorexic 14-year-old Izzy; and moody, cynical 17-year-old Jake. But her hardest job by far will be keeping mum about the financial scandal that threatens to bring down the Skinners. And keeping her passionate affair with Jake, their son, in the dark will prove an even greater challenge. In this fast-paced, dishy morality tale, Neill also delivers a thoughtful dissection of how greed and hubris helped bring the banking industry to its knees in 2008. Agent: United Agents. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In Neill's (The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy) second novel, Nick and Bryony Skinner built their fortunes on the economic boom that peaked in 2006. But spending frivolously, they see their world come crashing down with the financial collapse that ensues in 2008. Nanny Ali Sparrow, who immerses herself within this family to hide from her own, becomes privy to sensitive information and finds that there are secrets that, if ever told, would tear the family apart and even jeopardize her employment, where she has grown to love the four Skinner children. Ali also learns what some people will do in the name of greed and how unethical and immoral decisions seem to rule when better actions should prevail. VERDICT This biting drama is filled with tension and remarkably flawed characters. Neill's engrossing tale makes for an addictive read, and one can only keep turning the pages to get to the inescapable conclusion.—Anne M. Miskewitch, Chicago P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
A university student gets an insider's look at the world banking crisis when she becomes nanny to a London financier, from the British author of Slummy Mummy (2007). In 2006, Ali Sparrow has mounting tuition debt and a rocky affair with a professor she would like to escape. To solve both problems, she takes a year off from university to nanny for the Skinner family. In the world of London nannies, populated by buxom Eastern European refugees, Ali is quite a find: Though without experience, she is legal and in possession of a driver's license. For her part, Ali has never seen such wealth. Father Nick is in charge of Lehman's London branch and Bryony runs a financial PR firm. Their Holland Park mansion is filled with art (Ali stashes her Francis Bacon poster in the closet when she notices the real thing is above the fireplace), a ridiculous pug, a Philippina housekeeper and four children. Jake is 17 and soon off to Oxford; Izzy is 14 and flirting with boys and anorexia; and then there are the twins, Hector and Alfie, Ali's primary charges. Ali's story--a bright girl from a fishing village making good, with a junkie for an older sister and an unspectacular love life--really plays second fiddle to the drama at hand: the rise and fall of the glamorous Skinner family. Nick is mysterious and perhaps guilty of insider trading, Bryony is intense and controlling, Bryony's father, Foy, is a fabulous drunken lothario, and the twins are a bit eerie, what with their secret language, empathic responses and refusal to be separated. It is all too much and not enough at once--a life lived extravagantly and shallowly, a series of parties, meetings and personal tragedies to schedule. Not much happens in Neill's novel, but her portrayal of the family is happily addictive and their greed-driven downfall a little bit delicious.
From the Publisher
"After an uberwealthy London family gets embroiled in a financial scandal following the 2008 crash, the trusted babysitter is the one holding all the secrets. Neill's engrossing and funny novel lives up to the titillating title." —-Entertainment Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594487163
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/2/2012
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Fiona Neill is a novelist and a journalist. Her previous novel, Slummy Mummy, based on her hugely popular column in the London Times, was widely acclaimed and went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller that sold in twenty-five countries. Neill lives in North London with her husband and three children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    Good storyline

    The author developed the characters well, and I found myself pulling for all of them in the end. The first half of the book was a tad (just a tad) slow., but picked up. I would have luked to have seen a different ending, it seemed to leave loose ends.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Review

    I thought this book would never end.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    This book seemed as though it was written by a teenager with a t

    This book seemed as though it was written by a teenager with a thesaurus. The writing style was quite juvenile with the occasional large word or reference to British literature thrown in for good measure. The juvenile writing did not mesh with the complicated subject matter of investment banking/insider trading. The plot was interesting at first, but spiraled into teenage smut. I would maybe recommend this book to teens, but not adults.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

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    Posted June 20, 2013

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    Posted January 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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