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May Contain Nuts [Hardcover]

John O'Farrell
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 May 2005
‘The other day there was a feature on the radio about the dangers of asteroids falling from outer space. When David came home he wanted to know why the children were splashing around in the paddling pool wearing their cycle helmets.’ Alice never imagined that she would end up like this. Is she the only mother who feels so permanently panic-stricken at the terrors of the modern world – or is it normal to sit up in bed all night popping bubble wrap? She worries that too much gluten and dairy may be hindering her children’s mental maths. She frets that there are too many cars on the road to let them out of the 4x4. Finally she resolves to take control and tackle her biggest worry of all: her daughter is definitely not going to fail that crucial secondary school entrance exam. Because Alice has decided to take the test in her child’s place . . . May Contain Nuts is a wonderful satire on the all-consuming madness of modern parenthood; a compelling journey across divided inner-city communities to a place where normal people don’t spend hundreds of pounds to have their four-year-old’s scribbles assessed for signs of genius or pay a handyman to assemble their Kinder Egg toys. With the comic eye for detail that has sent his books to the top of the bestseller lists, John O’Farrell has produced a funny and provocative book that will make you laugh, cry and vow never to become that sort of parent. And then you can pass it on to your seven-year-old, because she really ought to be reading grown-up novels by now . . .

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (2 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385606087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385606080
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 619,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John O'Farrell is the bestselling author of several novels including The Best A Man Can Get, This is Your Life, May Contain Nuts and The Man Who Forgot His Wife. He has also written the very successful history books An Utterly Impartial History of Britain and An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain, as well as a political memoir, Things Can Only Get Better. A former comedy scriptwriter for shows such as Spitting Image and Alias Smith and Jones, he is the founder of the satirical website NewsBiscuit and is well known for appearing on TV programmes including Grumpy Old Men, The Review Show and Have I Got News For You.

Product Description


"As hilarious as it is spot-on" (Mail on Sunday)

"O'Farrell is a consistently humorous writer with an acute ear for the absurdities of middle class pretension. It's hard to fault his satire on competitive parenting or his conclusions regarding social inequalities" (Mail on Sunday)

"O'Farrell is one of the best contemporary satirists in the business and he has middle class pushy mothers down to a tee in this latest toe-curling, hackle-rising chronicle of hyper-parenting... The one-liners are sublime and the comedic situations utterly hilarious. Don't miss this" (Daily Record)

"O'Farrell has scored a bullseye with this satirical salvo... Taps into Middle England's neuroses with terrific wit" (The Herald) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A satire about competitive, over-protective parents driving their children to tutors, to ballet, to insanity ...

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and (often) wise 11 Sep 2005
By A Customer
A very funny read. Especially for anyone who has been around over-anxious/over-competitive middle class parents in the UK. Some great scenes (i.e. teaching young kids to play contract bridge) and dialogue.
The ending lacks subtlety (tho' has a good message). But perhaps O'Farrell deliberately wrote a book that does not demand too heavy attention levels, so that tired and distracted parents can read it without too much trouble.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny 22 Jun 2007
This my first time reading a John O Farrell book and I was not sure what to expect. The book is written from the point of view of Alice an over anxious middle class mother desperately wanting the best for her children and loosing site to the fact that if she does everything for them they won't learn to do things themselves. After reading the first couple of pages (involving the `heroine' causing a car crash after ambushing an unsuspecting speeding driving with a mannequin dressed as Tony Blair in school uniform!) I was worried that the book was going to be ridiculous rather than satirical.

However I was wrong, though some of the premises in the book are a little off the wall (a mother sitting an exam for her daughter for one) he keeps the right side of satire and has written an extremely entertaining book. The over pushy parents timetabling every second of their children's life were priceless and sadly recognizable. I laughed out loud on several occasions especially at the children's book club.

The only problem that I had with the book was though I applaud the message that it is important that a school concentrates on pupils as people and not just their exam results I do think the last few chapters of the book were just a little over idealized. Generally a really good read.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This could be any of us.... 16 Feb 2006
I picked this book up with no real enthusiasm, but after ten pages I was in fits of laughter. It is a very funny book indeed, and sharp as a razor. The characters are exaggerations but if you have a children of school age, or even better, if you know parents who do, you will immdediately recognise the absurd behaviour of people obsessed with protecting and promoting their little darlings. A wonderful, hysterical, bitter sweet satire of our time!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts superbly, ends terribly 28 Mar 2007
I loved the beginning of this book - a hilarious, clever satire on middle-class snobbery and paranoid parents that had me laughing out loud. BUT, towards the end the author comes over all earnest and politically correct about the wonderful humble state school system, and the biting satire all falls away. State schools, apparently, are flawless, wonderful places that cannot be satirised at all - the humour gives way to worthy preachiness that is nauseating to say the least. One can't help feeling that if this author were genuinely unprejudiced about ordinary people, he would treat them with the same scathing humour he reserves for the milieu he genuinely feels comfortable with - the upper middle classes. If I lived on a council estate, I'd want to hit him for this patronising portrait of the lives of the non-wealthy. Also, the so-called heroine who we like so much and identify with at the beginning turns out to be a despicable coward - and gets away with it - no one in the book even comments on it. In the end, this was a dishonest, cowardly book
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By International Cowgirl VINE VOICE
This fairly enjoyable comic novel may well contain nuts, but it doesn't contain any characters. I rattled through it in two days and even laughed OUT LOUD occasionally (the holy grail of comedy) but personally I prefer my novels with actual three-dimensional characters as opposed to paper-thin stereotypes. `May Contain Nuts' is basically one long, extended comedy sketch. If you want to know what it's about, think Catherine Tate as that uptight middle class mum who goes into meltdown when the breakfast eggs aren't organic.

True comedy has an undercurrent of intelligence sorely lacking here. If you actually need someone to point out to you that not all comprehensive schools are drug-fuelled dens of iniquity and not every black teenager is looking to mug you, then here's the book you've been waiting for. Well-paced and amusing but deeply, horribly patronizing.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Class Act 25 Sep 2005
By Graeme Wright VINE VOICE
With the sort of pinpoint accuracy essential for somebody who has written speeches for politicians and scripts for Spitting Image puppets (there IS a difference) John O'Farrell directs his ferocious satire towards the competitive middle class of South London. This is the story of Alice, the over protective, somewhat paranoid mother of Molly who is very bright but doesn't do very well in exams. Accordingly Alice decides to stand in for Molly at the entrance exam for an elite London school. Sounds far fetched? Of course it is - plot usually plays second fiddle to O'Farrell's brilliant characters and surreal dilemmas - but the book is so playfully written and sharply observed that no criticism can be intended. From his description of the sort of parents who draw up league tables of their offsprings' achievements to the virtual brainwashing of same offspring into recognizing Peter and the Wolf by rote, O'Farrell is merciless in where he sticks the boot and how hard.
The real joy with this book is how comfortably O'Farrell writes in the first person feminine with an accuracy that recalls Nick Hornby in How To Be Good.
This is light reading at its most enjoyable. All power to Mr O'Farrell's imagination!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars very funny
Good observational humour taken to the extreme at times. It was embarrassingly cringeworthy in places.... but an excellent funny book.
Published 1 month ago by grannygrimble
4.0 out of 5 stars Good quick read for holiday
Good read and one I would have passed on to a friend had it not been on kindle! Enjoyed, easy to read. Some very true to life observations !
Published 3 months ago by Miss A. J. Wright
2.0 out of 5 stars May contain nuts
I was not happy with the state of the Book as it was very old. Pages were brown at the edges. Although it was meant to be new.
Published 3 months ago by SH
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I really enjoyed this book, and it got so I wanted to know what happened next. Some very funny situations, but also a more serious message about bringing up children.
Published 4 months ago by Lisa Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and quite funny
The author lampoons the waitrose going, land-rover-driving middle classes of suburbia very well. The ending was slightly too idealistic and is clearly driven by the author's... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Scott Wardrope
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
This book is hilarious and Mad! perfect if you need something light hearted to make you smile with a dose if reality thrown in for good measure
Published 7 months ago by Prawn
5.0 out of 5 stars HYSTERICAL
Got recommended this book by different people and borrowed it and LOVED IT. then brought it for my sister (because she hates reading) who then lost it so I recently brought it for... Read more
Published 9 months ago by emma fox
I really enjoyed this novel. I found it out loud funny, and was very close if not actually true of many parents, and how they treat their children. Read more
Published 9 months ago by bibliophile
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit boring compared to Johns other books
Not my favourite got a bit bored really to much repetition re child getting into private school I persevered but not very good
Published 10 months ago by Barny J
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy if rather silly read.
Not as funny as some of John O'Farrell's other books. A good read on the plane or the beach. Light relief in between more complicated books I usually read.
Published 11 months ago by Mr. C. F. Slinger
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