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Live webchat with Slummy Mummy columnist and author, Fiona Neill

(83 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 21-Jul-11 11:21:03

Fiona Neill is the creator of the Times Magazine Slummy Mummy column and author of international bestseller The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy which was voted Mumsnet Best Light Read in 2011.

Fiona's latest book, What the Nanny Saw is out on 18th August and to mark the occasion,Fiona will also be joining us at MNHQ for a live webchat on the 18th August, where you'll get chance to tell her your thoughts on the book and to ask her questions.

What the Nanny Saw tells the story of penniless student Ali Sparrow, whose life changes overnight after answering an ad for a nanny. She is catapulted into the privileged and excessive world of London's financial elite, and is a witness to things she probably shouldn't see. When a scandal erupts that rocks the family's private life, is Ali principled enough to keep their secrets when the press come prowling for the inside scoop? Or will she dish the dirt on the family who never saw her as anything other than part of the scenery?

Don't forget to return to this thread to share your views on the book, and put 18th August in your diary to join our chat with Fiona Neill.

SexyDomesticatedDab Mon 01-Aug-11 15:57:34

Got a copy today too - postie had to knock at the door - will read on holds - start Saturday - 3 weeks!!

Ta very much grin

Kathleen Fri 05-Aug-11 14:01:38

I got a copy to and completely thrilled. It's a bumper book and I'm devouring it at a great rate. Really good so far and looking forward to the web chat with the author. Will post back again when I've finished it.

CaptainNancy Fri 05-Aug-11 16:31:36

Oh no... I musn;t have got one sad

missorinoco Sat 06-Aug-11 19:30:52


RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Aug-11 12:10:20

Sorry to those who didn't receive a copy. You can hear more about What the Nanny saw and read an excerpt here:

What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill

If you want to read the book before Fiona joins us on 18th August, buy it here

What the Nanny Saw

If you did receive a copy, don't forget to let us know what you thought on this thread ahead of the webchat or on 18th at 1pm when Fiona Neill is joining us for a webchat.

justagirlfromedgware Mon 08-Aug-11 20:14:52

Received a copy (thanks Penguin!) and enjoying the escapism; wondering if this is really how the other half live.

n.b. Just looked at its entry on a popular online bookshop wink: I wish books about women's lives today weren't all reduced to being defined as 'chick lit'. Patronising or what?

missorinoco Tue 09-Aug-11 12:57:02

MN you are very polite. We are (ok read I for we) offered a free book, email too late, don't get it and whinge. And you say sorry. This is why I am not self employed. I would go out of business within ten minutes for being too rude. grin

Purplebuns Wed 10-Aug-11 19:02:04

I have just finished it, I found the beginning layout a little difficult to get into. However, I was soon ploughing through the book. I
t was an easy read and provided good escapism, I also enjoyed how chunky it was a a volume. However, I would have changed the ending slightly if I could as I found the focus was more on the family, when I would have preferred it to be on Ali. Still, a good read and I am so pleased I managed to get a copy as I am not usually so lucky!

Kathleen Mon 15-Aug-11 17:19:27

I finished it at the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. All the loose ends nicely tied up and not in a predictable way either. Would love a sequel as some of the characters were so appealing (and so well written) that I want to know how things turn out for them, especially the adorable little twins. Well done Fiona, ten out of ten from me! smile

Angel786 Mon 15-Aug-11 21:26:26

I emailed for a copy but the email bounced back sad

ssd Tue 16-Aug-11 08:15:43

I got a copy (thanks very much to penguin), it was a great book, would recommend it.

I'd like to ask Fiona, have you worked as a nanny? This was especially relevant to me as I have worked as a nanny for many years and found Fiona's description of the awkwardness of having to live with a family unlike your own spot on.

won't catch the chat with Fiona as will be working, but I'm sure someone here will ask Fiona my question

I got a copy - thank you very much. Am about half way through at the moment and thoroughly enjoying it. Will endeavour to finish it later this evening. DD2 is pinching it to read by the pool and it is a struggle to get it back from her grin. She is seemingly enjoying it too, in a 'can't put it down' sort of way.

I am hoping to make the webchat on Thursday, I do have things on in the morning, but I am an hour ahead here, so may well be back in time.

Failing that, my question is also - have you ever worked as a nanny, Fiona, or is this based on things you have heard over the years? I know the rule is ONE question, but I suspect DD2 may have one to ask as well. 16 year old's view and all that!

strangerwithmyface Tue 16-Aug-11 15:49:01

Thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow nannies are all the rage again. I sympathised with Ali who went from pudgy nobody to the heights of London's elites, but I was forced to shout at my book occasionally as she got into scrape after scrape. Did you discover anything surprising about nannies when you were researching this book? And do you use a nanny to help fit in writing alongside the children?

LincolnBiscuit Tue 16-Aug-11 20:32:12

I too am about half-way through and really enjoying it. I love a good chick-lit style book but really struggle to find books to hold my attention these days. I even sometimes don't finish books these days which was unheard of a few years ago. However I think I'll definitely be finishing this one, it's cracking along at a nice pace, I'm liking the characters, the storyline is developing nicely.

DamnYouAutocorrect Tue 16-Aug-11 20:38:23

Hello Fiona. Following on from someone else's point upthread <too lazy to check name blush), what do you feel about the 'chick lit' label? Do you embrace it, or does it irritate you? There doesn't seem to be an equivalent for titles written by men (dick lit?)

BartletForAmerica Tue 16-Aug-11 21:42:30

I enjoyed it as a bit of escapism into a completely different world. Some of the references to current famous people will date quickly, so this hasn't got much of a shelf life. It was good reading for just before bed and it kept moving quickly though.

ssd Wed 17-Aug-11 09:06:30

stranger, what are you on about?

nannies have always existed and its nothing to do with Gwenyth Paltrow

strange POV

strangerwithmyface Wed 17-Aug-11 09:15:54

ssd, I wasn't suggesting nannies are a new thing, merely that they became a big topic of discussion again when Paltrow advertised for one. And the amazing thing about a POV is that it's yours and nobody else needs to share it.

vividgingerchilli Wed 17-Aug-11 09:53:42

What was the inspiration for your Slummy Mummy column?

SeniorWrangler Wed 17-Aug-11 11:58:24

Could hardly put it down. Very good characterisation in the book, plausible scenarios, shrewd insights, and I found it good to read as a companion piece to Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help'. Great job.

My question. I thought it was particularly interesting when you wrote about the way the bankers' families apparently commoditised everything, including relationships. I was wondering whether you had experienced seeing this sort of thing up close in real life and whether writing the book was a way of being able to make comments about certain behaviours that would be socially unacceptable face to face (I ask because I certainly have seen this sort of thing at first hand and it turns my stomach, but obviously it's difficult to say anything while you are there).

PeachyKeenJellyBean Wed 17-Aug-11 18:05:12

What's your slummiest secret?

PeachyKeenJellyBean Wed 17-Aug-11 18:05:40

(parenting related, or otherwise, but obviously it's NOT friday night, sorry! grin)

LindsayWagner Wed 17-Aug-11 18:12:13

Hi Fiona
Is the relationship between nanny and mother pretty much designed to be tortured? Apart from the odd exception, I don't know anyone on either side who finds it particularly easy..

Bumperlicious Wed 17-Aug-11 19:49:10

I read my book (courtesy of penguin, thank you!). I enjoyed reading it though I did find some of the characters a bit implausible. Plus I'm not sure the book really decided what it wanted to be: about a nanny in a rich family - there wasn't really enough depth about the experience. I felt like it told us rather than showed us that Ali was a good nanny (I actually didn't think she was that great as a nanny!); about life as a rich family; or about the financial crisis. I wonder if Fiona was trying to do chick lit with a bit more grip, kind of like Louise Bagshaw has done with her two latest books (and not v well I don't think).

I think there is a market 'chick grip lit' (can I copywrite that phrase?!). I'm not sure if this book hit the mark though. I felt like the book was building up to a climax which never really happened. Sorry for the critique Fiona, I did enjoy the book, and I think it is a nice change to add the financial crisis to the traditional chick lit genre to give it a bit more depth.

I did enjoy the relationship in the last part of the book. I thought it was well described and very lustful smile

EightiesChick Thu 18-Aug-11 00:22:01

Bumperlicious I agree with the point about building up to a climax that never really happened. Not sure the end phase felt like it was actually the 'proper' culmination of the rest. Bryony would, I think, have put retaining the 'lynchpin of her family' ahead of her anger. I didn't feel as much sympathy for her as it seemed, ultimately, I was 'supposed' to. The idea was a very interesting one, though, and a different take on the austerity / credit crunch theme as it's been picked up in other popular women's fiction.

I also got a copy from Penguin - thanks, MN, for facilitating this.

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