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on 9 August 2014
A sweet and gently funny book. Especially interesting if you, a) lived in Gloucester Crescent at the time, b) therefore can actually imagine being in the house, c) lived in Regents Park Terrace or adjoining Oval Road which were all curiously connected yet failed to become the complete double crescent oval shape due to the railway being built right through it. This book will interest all the media types who lived there in the 1960s - 1980s and the millionaires who live there now. I literally laughed out loud in places. It was actually more interesting there than this book lets on, there could be many more amusing and surprising stories added, and as for that hairdresser who did the lop sided beret cuts...it's something you don't ever forget.
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on 28 January 2014
... and unfortunately it was rather fluffy. Had seen it mentioned several times in 'best read of the year' by authors and readers (Guardian?) but found it rather repetitive. Alan Bennet popping round all of the time was funny though
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on 27 October 2016
This has become my Favourite Book, by my favourite gifted author, and has given me hours of pleasure and happiness. Having 2 younger brothers myself, and also really enjoying bad language which I think is hilarious - this book fits me so well. A huge "thank you" to Nina Stibbe for all her work. Have read and listened on R4 to all her other stuff too, but I love this book. I felt very jealous of the time she spent in this household, for the brilliant comments she made, the way she handled things - and feel everyone was so lucky. Can recommend if you're feeling a bit glum, as it will make you laugh out loud all the time, and drive your family and friends to distraction reading bits out to them.

Thanks Nina.
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on 9 May 2014
This book takes place in a very specific time and place, Northwest London in the 1980s. There are numerous references to locally famous people throughout the book, but if you didn't experience this time and place you would have no knowledge of these people or why the stories about them are funny. Parts of it are amusing or interesting, but mostly you walk away from reading this book thinking "what is the point?" Obviously the only reason it was published is because of the author's connections to the publishing world.
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on 21 October 2014
Warm and amusing (actually laugh-out-loud funny in places), this is a series of letters from Nina to her sister after she's moved to the big London as an au pair in the 1980's. The family she lives with seem to be an artistic, bohemian and quite colourful bunch, with a fairly hectic lifestyle involving neighbours including Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett.

At times I'd have loved to see some of the replies Nina's sister sent back, or indeed to know whether she did reply, but even without those, this was one of those books that one could dip into pretty much anywhere in the book and find something to make a cold day feel a little warmer.
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on 23 March 2014
A lot of first novels were in the form of letters (see Richardson) so it was fun to read this book. The tone of it was light and inconsequential but charming in its naive perception of what was going on around the writer. From time to time the insight into human nature shone like small diamonds in the everyday routine ashes. What was unusual was the inclusion of snippets of dialogue which could be a record of actual exchanges between the characters of the letters. The reader's curiosity is constantly satisfied with the fact that a lot of people talked about are well known. There is nothing more exciting than a good gossip written humorously.
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VINE VOICEon 13 August 2014
This book has great promise. The 1980s was a flamboyant decade in London and this is the memoire of a young woman who has moved to the city to be a nanny for a family immersed in the literary world. There is also a cast list (!!) at the beginning which ramps up the anticipation - Willie Carson? Russell Harty? Delia Smith? 80s icons all of them.
The book is presented as letters written back to the authors sister, Vic, who is in Leicester. The letters are full of nostalgia of the period which will bring a smile to anyone who remembers the 80s.
Her writing is occasionally amusing but not at a level for this book to be described as "funny". The mixture of narrative and dialogue effectively break up the letters which could have become monotonous much earlier (they do eventually though!)
Nina wants to be everyone's friend which is very trying and makes her difficult to engage with - at times it even makes the reading quite uncomfortable.
As we only ever see one side of the conversation in letters (I guess because Nina didn't keep her sisters letters?) the subjects covered appear to jump about in a disjointed way - appearing at random although presumably in response to a letter from the authors sister.
There is no way of telling how much editing has been done prior to publishing but it is lovely to see that the innocent spark of the author has been maintained and it's really interesting how she matures over the years that she is in London - would have been useful to have more of the letters dated though as the time span could have been used more usefully.
Another small point is that Deborah Moggach has a quote on the front of the book - she lived in the area at the time and is even mentioned a couple of times......
It's an odd feeling reading this book as I felt I should have warned to the author and there are a lot of positives but I just didn't connect.
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on 30 July 2014
Dry, funny and touching. Made me dig out all my old letters from uni. Also made me scour the internet for what happened to Nina and co after the book finished as I didn't want it to end.
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on 10 December 2013
Fresh, genuine, original, honest and quirky. Names are dropped easily and not pretentiously. The writer is calmly aware of her own shortcomings and a wonderful picture of the characters emerges, particularly of Mary Kay.
Nina captures and records the conversations succinctly and brilliantly. Very very funny.
Inspirational. Made me want to take out my fountain pen and start writing letters again.
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on 9 July 2015
First of all I can definitely see both sides of the coin with this book. In one sense it really isn't about much at all and not a whole lot of stuff happens but on the other hand that is part of it's understated charm and attraction. The time and place and origins of the scribe (both from Leicester) draw clear and relevant comparisons with Adrian Mole. I wouldn't put this in the same league but this still has more than enough amusing moments and laugh out loud one liners to invest your time in. This is a very quirky and English take on the everyday that is certainly worth a read and chuckle.
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