7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Nanny Letters,
This review is from: Love. Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Stibbe. Nina ( 2013 ) Hardcover (Hardcover)
When Nina Stibbe applied for a job as nanny to a family in Bloomsbury, she was twenty years old, had never lived in London, and was unaware of the literary celebrities who would soon populate her world.
This was in the early 1980s and she was used to having long, detailed chats with her sister back home every night after work. Since her sister didn't have convenient access to a phone, Nina wrote her frequent letters, telling her about the family she was living with, the people who visited, tidbits about her new London neighborhood.
Her sister found the letters recently and as unlikely as it all seems, now they're a book. The book is in two parts, the first part is Nina's letters to sister Victoria as she settles in with the Mary Kay and her sons Sam and Will, ages nine and ten. Mary Kay Wilmers is an editor (and founder) at The London Review of Books. Her ex-husband and the father of the boys is Stephen Frears, a movie director. Alan Bennett lives just across the street and is over for dinner most evenings. Jonathan Miller lives down a few doors, close enough to borrow things from. Michael Frayn, playwright, is a neighbor, as is John Lahr, American theater critic, and a host of others. Some celebrities only pop in for cameo appearance, such as Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson.
The second part of the book consists of the letters Nina sent to Victoria from university. There's an overlap, as Nina was no longer the nanny, but Mary Kay invited her to stay at the house and Nina continued to help out but on a more casual basis. I found the university adventures less interesting than the Bloomsbury gossip.
Nina was a great letter writer, she included lots of detail, including plenty of snippets of conversation that give you a vivid picture of what the people in her life were like. She was hardly star struck, in fact her first letters to her sister describe Alan Bennett as being an actor in a soap opera and Jonathan Miller as being an opera singer.
A fun, quick trip back to the eighties for fans of the London book and theater crowd.