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The Manny Hardcover – June 19, 2007

3.0 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Guest Reviewer: Plum Sykes
Plum Sykes burst onto bookshelves in 2004 with her internationally-acclaimed bestseller Bergdorf Blondes, a novel in which she spotlighted the lives of New York’s Park Avenue Princesses. Born in London and educated at Oxford, Sykes is a contributing editor at Vogue, where she writes on fashion, society, and Hollywood. She has also written for Vanity Fair magazine. Her latest novel is The Debutante Divorcee.

"If you want to see rich people act really rich, go to St. Henry’s School for Boys at 3p.m. on any weekday." Or you could just read Holly Peterson’s debut novel, The Manny. The first line of this rather delicious story sets us up for what is to come: a satire of money, marriage, men and mannys. ("The Manny" of the title is actually a male nanny, just another parenting trend for Manhattan’s uber-rich.)

Peterson’s heroine is Jamie Whitfield, a middle class girl from middle America who, supposedly, married well. She works as a news producer and it is through her that we get an inside peek at Manhattan’s silly rich. In Peterson’s well-drawn world, Whitfield and her hotshot lawyer husband, Philip, inhabit a specific area of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, dubbed ‘The Grid’. Although Jamie fell hard for Philip when they were in their twenties, little did she realize she was marrying a man who thinks making a million or so a year means he is poverty-stricken, whose personal vanity knows know bounds and whose preferred reading material is books with titles like How To Raise Children in an Affluent Environment.

With the ghastly husband getting more revolting by the second, her son Dylan losing his confidence, and Jamie’s work going wrong, it’s not long before Peter Bailey, a thirty year old manny--who also happens to be outrageously sexy--enters the fray. Now, there is nothing more amusing than the posh girl falling for The Help, but upright Jamie holds out--for pages and pages and pages--determined not to cheat on her husband. But when Jamie discovers another Alpha Mom has seduced Peter in her linen closet during a play date, it seems only a matter of time before the inevitable happens.

Peterson has a keen eye for the zeitgeist. She describes the world of the hedge-fund billionaires and their excessive desires with sharp precision and a steely honesty. She takes us to their children’s lavish birthday parties, explores the exact kind of fringing their cushions require and even kindly translates their slang for us: "its wheels up at three" actually means "my private plane takes off at three o’clock". Though the detail of such an extreme lifestyle could become suffocating, at its heart the book has a more human crisis to explore--a marriage in jeopardy. The fun comes with the love affair with the Manny. It’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover for the beach.

From Publishers Weekly

Jamie Whitfield, 36, lives on Park Avenue with her three children and her mostly absent high-powered attorney husband, Phillip, and works part-time as a producer for a prime-time news program. She hires Peter Bailey—29 and biding his time until he get funding for his software business—to plug the household's gaps and be a father figure to nine-year-old Dylan. The two, of course, are attracted to each other, and when Peter's money comes through, he doesn't tell Jamie. Phillip's temper tantrums when lacking pulpless orange juice or a wooden-handled umbrella are surprisingly funny, and a subplot where Jamie chases a trashy but potentially career-making story is strong. Jamie's co-workers are more realistically portrayed than her shallow friends, but even Jamie's children come alive when they root for mom's success. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (June 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385340400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385340403
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,011,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Edward Aycock on June 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm poor and live on the Upper WEST Side, so my review probably doesn't count but ...

There have been a lot of jokes, a lot of criticism about Peterson and her $1m deal for two books, of the poor writing, the flat characterizations, the video. C'mon, it can't be that bad, can it? After the publicity blitz, how could I NOT check this book out? I sat in a Barnes and Noble and pored through most of the book in an hour.

Yeah, it really is that bad.

I suppose the book is supposed to be cutting and satirical, like the scene when a bunch of somber mothers comfort one who has lost her legal nanny, but well, it's not that funny. The dialogue is flat, and come on, was anybody expecting anything different than what ultimately transpires? Peterson's prose (if you can call it that) is laughable, full of cliches, repetition and unimaginative similes but what can we expect from such an unimaginative tale? It's like "Diary of a Mad Housewife" (or Working Mom)squeezed through a pastry tube.

And a Manny who calls you "Girl!" um ...

And Peterson has also ruined Belvedere Castle for me.

By the time the "climax", limp as it is does happen, I was ready to call Bradbury's fireman over to do his job. As for the promotional video for the book, it's just wrong and offensive in so many ways.

Save your money people, there many, many better books out there. This one will be in the bargain bin by the time a year has passed anyhow.
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Format: Hardcover
Jamie Whitfield is a working Park Avenue mother who has to contend with her part-time job as a producer at NBS, her three children under the age of 10, and her workaholic lawyer husband who is so concerned with keeping up with the Joneses that he is hardly ever around for his family. When her oldest child, a 9-year-old named Dylan, begins having problems with his social interactions at school and refuses to confide in her at the same time that her husband isn't around for him to talk to, Jamie decides to hire a man to serve as a positive male role model for Dylan and perhaps provide the outlet he needs to come out of his introverted shell.

Enter Peter Bailey. A college-educated computer science major who is working part-time on a computer program to help children with their homework. Peter comes in and serves as Jamie's knight in shining armor, helping her to run her household more efficiently, helping Dylan with his self-confidence, and making Jamie feel like a woman again for the first time in years. At the same time he's picking up the pieces of Jamie's scattered home life, her work life is beginning to go up in shambles. On the verge of breaking one of the biggest political news scandals in the country, Jamie is so focused on the story that she doesn't see the potential pitfalls in the witness's story. Though Peter tries to help her with this as well, he's only one man and Jamie has to figure out for herself what's going to be best for her career...

The Manny is, at times, a laugh riot and, at others, a bleak portrait of the state of marriage in the rich and privileged. Jamie comes from a small Minnesota town and has a problem fitting in with the other Park Avenue wives who have such a sense of entitlement.
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Format: Hardcover
First, Plum Sykes gave us the insufferably vapid and shallow "Bergdorf Blondes" and made it a bestseller, solely based on the fact that she's a Vogue writer (and I use the word "writer" with a great deal of generosity, since she has about as much talent as a rock). Now, she writes a review of "The Manny," and she dares to compare it to the work of genius that is "Lady Chatterley's Lover"--and to add insult to injury, she misspells it "Chatterly." Shame on Sykes.

I read "The Manny" mainly because although I'm not rich, I do have a young son, and my husband and I have talked about hiring a male nanny who can play sports with him. I want my money back. The characters are wooden, the writing is atrocious, and if you don't know how the book ends by page thirty, then I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. Say whatever you want about Holly Peterson --she's probably well connected, to garner so much attention for her first novel-- but D.H. Lawrence she's not.
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By Cuenca on September 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As Truman Capote once said, "That's not writing; that's typing." This perfectly describes this total waste of time. Couldn't go past 70 pages when I threw it in the waste.....
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Format: Hardcover
Despite the positive hype this book was truly awful. The attempts at humor fall very far short. The only thing more wooden than the dialogue is the characters themselves. There is Jamie--the wife/mother who complains about her materialistic, racist, narcissistic husband but does not do anything to change her situation. She has little respect for other women in her social set but still desperately longs to fit in. Then there is the manny, Peter. He has no children of his own and no connection to Jamie's lifestyle or background, yet he he is constantly critical and condescending to not only Jamie's parenting skills, but pretty much everything about Jamie, right down to the throw pillows on her couch. It stretches the imagination that there could be any long-term attraction between these two.

This book was disappointing. It had a lot of potential but came up short. Don't waste money on this one.
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