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My Hollywood (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – August 9, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Kathryn Stockett Reviews My Hollywood

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City, where she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nine years. The Help is her first novel. Read her review of My Hollywood:

My Hollywood: Step into the glittering lives of Hollywood America, as scrubbed, wiped, and polished by immigrant women. It's so refreshing that a book can be this poignant, satirical, and heartbreaking at once. You might find yourself laughing at your own life as you read what the help says and thinks behind the backs of American housewives. You'll wonder at the intricate system of the modern household--where one mother pays another to give her children love. It illuminates the differences between American and immigrant mothers--until you realize how alike we are! The vivid accents and the vibrant voices of the children continue to ring in my ear. I loaned it to my mom and she took it to Mississippi with her and won't send it back. I'll be buying a copy of my own.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

With the publication of novels like Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus's The Nanny Diaries (2002) and Kathryn Stockett's The Help (**** Selection Jan/Feb 2010), there is no shortage of books about women and their domestic employees. Even so, Simpson's pragmatic and delightfully observant nanny Lola shines in this story of contemporary child rearing. Critics did find Claire, with her privileged lifestyle and chronic self-doubt, a slightly less compelling character. And, in stark contrast to all other critics, the Philadelphia Inquirer reviewer found the novel disorganized, repetitive, and filled with exasperating characters. While a few readers may not find My Hollywood to their liking, most should find it an entertaining and heartfelt addition to Simpson's body of work. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307475026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307475022
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Mona Simpson is one of the only contemporary novelists to nail the working mother species and to give a voice to the voiceless Filipina, the indispensable yet invisible Nanny. My Hollywood should be required reading for mothers, fathers, and anybody interested in the triangular relationships between children, their caretakers, and their harrowed and harassed parents. My Hollywood manages, ever so lightly, no heavy-handedness there, to give voice to the working mother's struggle--always wanting two things at once--and to the voiceless caregivers (in this case the beautifully-drawn Lola). Simpson's has mastered double narration. On one hand, we read about Claire the musician, the new mother, the woman seeking a room of her own with a crib in the corner. On the other, Lola, the Filipina nanny, sending her pennies back home, building an autonomous life for the children she has left behind and never sees. How many women like Claire do we know, still shaking off the residue of romance, self-destructive perfectionists, who make a profession out of being so hard on themselves? This novel is a must read for practitioners and theorists of the American work ethic, and how it coalesces with the myth of the perfect mother. Work is everywhere in Simpson's characters' lives--of course in husband-Paul's infernal Hollywood schedule, but also in Claire's consciousness that each minute that passes with "nothing" to show for is pure loss: (I'd blown half my time... I was a dandelion blown). What a brilliant portrait of modern time (Time had once been public, in a clock tower on a town square; everyone saw the same hour and minutes. When watches were invented...people could carry around their own time).Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful and expansive novel about love (maternal and marital) and work (paid and unpaid). Claire, a composer, is a new mother trying to figure out how to manage the all consuming work of tending a baby and still do what sustains her--playing the cello and writing music. (Her husband Paul, an anxious TV writer-in-training, goes to work in the morning and stays there until deep in the night.) So Claire hires Lola, a Filipina nanny who is raising the money to send her youngest daughter through medical school. The two women take turns telling their stories in sharply contrasting, but equally compelling voices. Throughout, Simpson addresses vital human concerns: Who actually raises the children? Can a mostly-absent parent still be a good parent? How do children thrive and marriages endure in these various arrangements? Simpson's prose has notes of Henry Green and Virginia Woolf and even, at times, the satiric edge of Evelyn Waugh. This book is intelligent, beautifully and quite cleverly written, often funny. A literary novel for the ages.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about the modern Mom in all her over-scheduled yet scattered glory. There were definite insights in this book, and areas where the writing was outstanding. But, unfortunately, the story ultimately fell a bit flat.

Told alternately from the perspective of Claire, a composer and the mother of a young son; and Lola, the Filipina nanny whom she hires to watch her child when she is working, the story covers a lot of the challenges that the working mother faces, including the guilt involved in choosing to continue with a career when having a young child. I am not sure if the author was trying to portray the hectic and often scattered nature of the working mother when using Claire as the narrator, but I found her sections a bit serpentine and unfocused. From Lola's narrative, we also get insights into a close community of nannies who bond together and share their own challenges, which in many cases includes being working mothers themselves.

Nobody's perfect in this book. Mistakes are made on both sides of the spectrum. I think the author actually nailed a lot of the challenges to parenting these days, but overall, the story gets flat and repetitive as the book goes on. Perhaps this is because the everyday trials and tribulations of the average mom tend to be a bit boring after awhile in real life as well as on the page. Everyone's just doing what they think is best for their family, but there is really not much excitement there. The book was just okay.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Learning of the split narrative voice in My Hollywood before reading it, you may shallowly assume that it is used to portray the complex relationship between a mother and nanny who are jointly raising a child. In actuality, the stories of both Claire and Lola could easily stand on their own. They are not characters in opposition, and the focus of each is not the other. The relationship is used however, to forcefully debate the question of, "Who is really the mom, when a child is raised by a loving nanny?"

Claire's angst about parenting, difficulty with her marriage, and 'side plot' with her mom are craftily weaved together to form a realistic picture of a life unsure. Simpson's insight into the character's emotional and psychological outlook is deftly presented. Claire is an unhappy woman in her 30s, trapped in a life she grudgingly wants to make work. The reader is taken along for the ride as if sitting alone at the dining room table, waiting for her husband night after night, with Claire. The emotional impact of Claire comes from the character's realism - right down to gastrointestinal issues after a rare night out with her husband.

Lola is perhaps the novel's more interesting narrator, but her relatively exotic origin (at least for an American reader) is also the novel's greatest weakness. Simpson attempts to narrate in first person with all of the quirks that a non-native English speaker would have. It doesn't quite come across as patronizing, but as Simpson implicitly admits in the Acknowledgements section, she is at least a little bit out of her element as a writer. Some of Lola's narrative is hard to follow, but her emotional impact becomes increasingly strong as the novel progresses. We come to understand why Lola deeply loves the children she cares for.
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