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Filthy-rich Bryony and Nick Skinner wanted a modern-day Mary Poppins, but what they needed was a superwoman who could "tread on the map of family life without leaving a big imprint." Twenty-one-year-old Ali Sparrow was perfect: eager to raise money to finish school, get away from a going-nowhere affair, and escape her own troubled family. London columnist and bestselling author Neill (The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy) concocts a darkly fascinating portrait of the stupid-rich, and the morally superior immigrant maids they press into service. In Ali's case, it soon becomes clear that her real job isn't just plugging domestic gaps in the lives of a banker and his wife, but rather "actually running the show," a tricky task involving needy five-year-old twins Hector and Alfie; insecure, anorexic 14-year-old Izzy; and moody, cynical 17-year-old Jake. But her hardest job by far will be keeping mum about the financial scandal that threatens to bring down the Skinners. And keeping her passionate affair with Jake, their son, in the dark will prove an even greater challenge. In this fast-paced, dishy morality tale, Neill also delivers a thoughtful dissection of how greed and hubris helped bring the banking industry to its knees in 2008. Agent: United Agents. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In Neill's (The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy) second novel, Nick and Bryony Skinner built their fortunes on the economic boom that peaked in 2006. But spending frivolously, they see their world come crashing down with the financial collapse that ensues in 2008. Nanny Ali Sparrow, who immerses herself within this family to hide from her own, becomes privy to sensitive information and finds that there are secrets that, if ever told, would tear the family apart and even jeopardize her employment, where she has grown to love the four Skinner children. Ali also learns what some people will do in the name of greed and how unethical and immoral decisions seem to rule when better actions should prevail. VERDICT This biting drama is filled with tension and remarkably flawed characters. Neill's engrossing tale makes for an addictive read, and one can only keep turning the pages to get to the inescapable conclusion.-Anne M. Miskewitch, Chicago P.L. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In this ripped-from-the-headlines novel, Neill (Slummy Mummy, 2007), a former journalist, uses the recent economic meltdown as fodder for skewering Britain's privileged financial class. Ali Sparrow, a college student taking a break from her studies, enters this unfamiliar echelon as a nanny for the Skinner family. The adults, Nick and Bryony, are typically career-obsessed and high strung; the four children suffer from a toxic mix of parental inattention and lofty expectations. Circling around the edges is Bryony's politically incorrect father, Foy, who dominates every scene he inhabits through sheer force of personality and his outlandish proclamations. They're all highly entertaining in a they did not just say that train-wreck kind of way. Ali, who begins her tenure as an arched-eyebrow observer, gradually grows to care for the Skinners, whose hubris masks untold insecurities. When their downfall comes, as a result of Nick's shady financial dealings, it feels vaguely bittersweet. Readers expecting a salacious, lighthearted romp, as anything with the word nanny in the title might suggest, will find that Neill has something more substantive and biting in mind.--Wetli, Patty Copyright 2010 Booklist