Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review: Nanny Returns

Summary: Now she's back. After living abroad for twelve years, she and her husband, Ryan, aka H.H., have returned to New York to make a life for themselves. In the midst of getting her new business off the ground and fixing up their fixer-upper, Ryan announces his sudden desire to start a family. His timing simply couldn't be worse.

To compound the mounting construction and marital chaos, her former charge, Grayer X, now sixteen years old, makes a drunken, late-night visit, wanting to know why she abandoned him all those years ago. But how can she explain to Grayer what she still hasn't come to terms with herself? In an attempt to assuage her guilt, yet against every instinct, Nan tries to help Grayer and his younger brother, Stilton, through their parents' brutal divorce, drawing her back into the ever-bizarre life of Mrs. X and her Upper East Side enclave of power and privilege.

After putting miles and years between herself and this world, Nan finds she's once again on the front line of the battle with the couture-clad elite for their children's wellbeing.

With its whip-smart dialogue and keen observations of modern life,
Nanny Returns gives a firsthand tour of what happens when a community that chose money over love finds itself with neither. -- Atria

I remember reading THE NANNY DIARIES way back when it first came out and really enjoying it. So when I found out that Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus had written a sequel (finally!) called NANNY RETURNS, I was very anxious to read it. After the way THE NANNY DIARIES ended, I was curious to see what had become of Nan and especially poor little Grayer.

NANNY RETURNS picks up twelve years later with Grayer in high school and Nan married. Nan and her husband (whom you will remember from the first book) move back to New York and purchase a run-down house which is in desperate need of an overhaul. (This renovation is cause for quite a few funny moments.) When she meets up again with Grayer and discovers that he still needs her help, she suddenly finds herself caught up again with the Xs and their craziness.

While I was definitely entertained by this novel, I have to say that my favorite parts were the ones about Nan and her emotional baggage. Even though I have absolutely nothing in common with Nan, I still adored her and even felt an affinity with her. At the start of this novel, Nan was facing so much change in her life (career, marriage, friends, etc.); and she really was at a major cross-roads. Although she was trying to move forward, she still hadn't completely gotten over the time spent 12 years ago with the Xs (or should I say how she left off with the Xs?) When her husband suggests that it's time to start a family, Nan kind of panics because she isn't sure she wants her own children. At this point, it becomes very clear to the reader that Nan hasn't completely resolved her past behavior and how she left Grayer.

Throughout the course of this story, I really appreciated the character of Nan and how she matured. You know how I love coming-of-age stories, and I think NANNY RETURNS was really one in so many ways. I enjoyed how Nan was forced to look at her past as well as her future and really examined what she wanted out of life. Without giving anything away, I truly loved the ending of this book!

As was the case in THE NANNY DIARIES, I liked the authors' writing style a lot! This book was filled with the same smart wit and hilarious references to the New York Upper East Side. I absolutely adored getting this "insider's view" of the New York high society and their outrageous behavior. I thought Mr. and Mrs. X were, once again, positively despicable -- and I almost couldn't believe their selfishness. However, I think I most appreciated the portrayal of a more grown-up Nan and Grayer and the relationship between them.

It's been a long time since I read THE NANNY DIARIES, and I admit that I don't remember many of the details. I was a little concerned that my memory lapse might take away from my overall enjoyment of NANNY RETURNS, but that definitely wasn't the case. I think the authors did a great job of catching up and reminding me of what happened in this first book. It wasn't until I finished the book that I found this helpful refresher course which gives very brief chapter-by-chapter summaries of the first book. I highly recommend taking a look at it if you are at all like me and don't remember specifics from THE NANNY DIARIES.

I couldn't find specific discussion questions for NANNY RETURNS, but I actually think it would make a fantastic pick for book clubs. I loved how the authors portrayed the character of Nan, and I am sure my book club could talk about her for hours. Some of the other themes that I could see discussing further include family dynamics, parenthood, marriage, honestly, betrayal, forgiveness, redemption, and acceptance.

If you are were a fan of THE NANNY DIARIES, then I am pretty sure that you won't want to miss NANNY RETURNS.

Thanks to Engelman & Co for sending me a review copy.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Is it bad if I can't get the image of Scarlett Johanson out of my mind when these books come up? See, that is the trouble with movies. Either way, I've read some interviews of the authors' and they are such a hoot. We all know there is nothing REALLY funny about renovation unless it is happening to someone else!

bermudaonion said...

I really enjoyed The Nanny Diaries but it's been a long time since I read it too. I'd have to take the refresher course first. I really want to read this one.

brizmus said...

I've totally got to read this! Sounds like they made an almost perfect sequel to a book I already loved.
(the movie, though, was TERRIBLE!)

Kaye said...

Thanks for the refresher course link because by the time I get around to Nanny Returns, I'll definitely need it. I'm so glad to hear you really liked the book as it is one I plan to read. Great review!

Our Westmoreland School said...

I'll have to look into the Nanny Diaries, it's sounds good :)

Thanks for sharing.

The Book Chick said...

Thanks for the link to the refresher- I could have used that before I read the book, but I'll give it a quick scan anyways!

I loved the ending as well!

Dana said...

I had no idea there was a sequel to the Nanny Diaries! It's been a while since I read it (I think I might actually remember the movie better than I do the book... arg), but it sounds like the sequel is definitelyw worth a read.