My five best reads of 2014, No. 1: Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life

In the 1980s Nina Stibbe took a job as nanny to a London family. Her employer, Mary-Kay Wilmers, was editor of the London Review of Books and the roll call of neighbours and friends who drop in encompasses some of the top stars of the literary/theatre scene, none of whom – and this is delightful – Nina has heard of.
Thirty years later Nina put together all the letters she wrote to her sister at the time and the result is this wonderfully quirky, artless account of day to day life in which someone called Alan Bennett turns up regularly for meals and proves a dab hand at mending the fridge; while Jonathan Miller is the obvious person to borrow a saw from when the Christmas tree needs cutting down to size. (Which Nina never returned – how has he been managing without it all these years?).
A super read which had me chuckling all the way through, especially as Nina’s own weirdness emerges under the tolerant eye of her employer who clearly liked her enough to cope with eccentricities such as her refusal to wear shoes. Ever. Popping out to the corner shop for a carton of milk must have been quite something.
(First published 1st January 2015)


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