17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Family Life in a Stack of Letters,
This review is from: Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life (Hardcover)
This book is entirely made up of the letters Nina wrote to her sister Victoria. Starting from when she took the job in the literary household of Mary-Kay Wilmers, as a nanny to her two sons, Sam and Will. The letters span five years up to the day Nina leaves Thames Poly, the move to London sparking the beginning of her academic career.
I found it hard to get to grips with this book at first, with no narrative and frequent initials for the characters in the letters it was a little hard to work out who was who but once that was sorted I became fascinated by the household. Mary-Kay has some wonderful one-liners, I got the impression of a woman who only says what she means and most of that is quite acerbic which I loved. The two boys being around 9 & 10 when the letters start also come across as intelligent and quick-witted boys and the conversations transcribed in the letters whilst sat around the table eating dinner made me smile time and again.
Nina is an adventurous cook, soliciting recipes from all sorts of sources, including the playwright neighbour Alan Bennett but always makes her own amendments. Once Nina starts at the Poly we have her thoughts on her fellow students as well as the books she is reading for her course.
All in all a different type of read, it is a little bizarre reading one side of a conversation although there is no doubt about the closeness of the two sisters. I found it was a great way of lifting my mood as I couldn't help the occasional chuckle at the antics of all the characters that made their way into Nina's letters.
I received a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.