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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witty and (often) wise
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...
Published on 11 Sep 2005

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Q: When is a novel not a novel? A: When it doesn't contain any characters
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...
Published on 10 Jun 2008 by International Cowgirl


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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
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Hardcover)
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
By 
Helenbookworm (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Hardcover)
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
By 
K. MCPOLIN "HIFI Fan" (Buckinghamshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Paperback)
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Q: When is a novel not a novel? A: When it doesn't contain any characters, 10 Jun 2008
By 
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Paperback)
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 "book worm" (salford) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Hardcover)
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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts superbly, ends terribly, 28 Mar 2007
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Paperback)
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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for parents of 10 year olds, 22 April 2006
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Paperback)
John O'Farrell's book brilliantly captures the madness that envelopes parents of 10 year olds in their search for a secondary school. This is a wonderful, light frothy hugely enjoyable read, with which parents will identify. (Along with of course his other book on children A Best a Man can Get, which is a truly laugh out loud book). As J O'F so obviously has children who are slightly older than my own, I am looking forward to his next book on teenage monsters which I feel convinced he must be writing even as I type.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars this is my life...., 28 April 2006
By 
A. Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Paperback)
This book, picked up at Waitrose, has cheered me up no end during a dire week of negotiating through the social and educational minefield that is London education. I recognised it all - the madly competitive mums whose default setting is anxiety, the stressed-out kids, the insane plots to try and get another exam point higher, the fear, the disgusting 4x4 cars, and the pressure that has the narrator dress up to take her daughter's 11+ entrance examination for the exclusive Chelsea College. Every urban culture in the world now has its "helicopter mothers", terrified of letting their children slip into the abyss of underachievement. O'Farrell had me laughing until I cried. His solution, though, is a bit less plausible - isn't this the same person who, with a bunch of other middle-class South London parents, got their very own state school set up last year, with, presumably, problem families from sink estates excluded?
PS Various enraged readers have informed me that problem families are, on the contrary, not excluded. If that's so, I hope the Rubys as well as the Mollys get to read this book and tell us what it's like
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, 3 April 2006
By 
Ms. C. Jackson (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Paperback)
I haven't actually finished this book but I have to say I was reading it last night and I laughed so hard I was crying and my boyfriend next to me thought I was mad. Even when i tried to read the amusing bit to him I couldn't finish because I was hysterically laughing. I already know, even though I haven't finished this one, that I'll be reading more of John O'Farrell. If you want cheering up - buy it!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 31 Mar 2006
This review is from: May Contain Nuts (Paperback)
I picked this book up because my mum has recently discovered she is allergic to nuts and absolutely everything 'may contain nuts'. From the first page where Alice admits to reading the Microsoft licence agreement before clicking accept through to popping bubble wrap in bed and worrying about your 4 year olds musical development, this book is brilliant and light hearted. Parenting really has become a contact sport that takes no prisoners, and is definately not for the faint hearted!
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