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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.

FionaNeill Thu 18-Aug-11 14:16:34


I'm afraid I haven't finished it in time for the webchat but I am really enjoying it. I like Ali as a character. Is she based one someone you know in real life? And if she is, do they know?

Hello Blatherskite. Ali is completely fictional. I needed to create a down to earth, intelligent and un-judgemental character who could observe the Skinner family fairly dispassionately. I was brought up in Norfolk and can identify with her need to escape and then the pull back home. There is something about the Norfolk landscape that means you never really leave and I still love swimming in the sea whenever I can. I grew up very near to Cromer, which is a town I still love for its utter authenticity.

FionaNeill Thu 18-Aug-11 14:20:14


Seeing as it's quiet in here I'll ask another. How was Columbia and was it a gritty research trip or an escape it all and chill?
And did you come across anything to do with (innovative) the Crossed Legs Strike ?

Hello BonzoDooDah. Colombia was great, I've been there quite a lot before because I used to live and work in Latin America. We were visiting my husband's family in Bogota and then went north to the coast to Cartagena. Have had lots of emails from them worrying about how dangerous it is living in the mean streets of London. Will answer your other question below!

FionaNeill Thu 18-Aug-11 14:26:27


Hello Fiona
congratulations on another well received book. I was lucky enough to receive a copy and am enjoying it all so far (Chapter 3 or so - although it hasn't bitten yet I am intrigued ....)

As I haven't finished this one yet I can't ask too much but With your Slummy Mummy Series - did you feel. once published, that your parenting skills were more open to critisism? (Did you find yourself behaving different in public to show that your wittty asides were just that or you felt like you had to play to the crowd?)

Hello again. I wasn't aware of anyone questioning my parenting skills after slummy mummy although they would probably be too polite to say anything to my face! Most people who know me, realize that Lucy Sweeney and her band of friends are fictional characters. Unfortunately I'm far more anxious about things. I agree with her 'good enough parenting' approach and actually that doesn't really leave you open to too much criticism.

FionaNeill Thu 18-Aug-11 14:30:07


Hello again, sorry a bit late to the party as running around somewhat this morning. Thank you for answering my question - DD2 has flown off this morning taking the book with her to finish it en route to the UK. She just wanted me to say to you 'thank you for the most unputdownable book I have read all summer'. Given that she is not quite 17 and is generally more interested in what the Z listers are up to, I can promise you that this is a huge amount of praise!! She has also removed the Slummy Mummy books from the shelf as she feels they will be far more fun than her prescribed A level reading next term grin

Hello, thanks so much for your lovely comment. I'm so thrilled your seventeen year old enjoyed the book. If she loses it let me know and i'll get another copy to you. It's great to know it appeals to a wide age range. You don't write with anyone in mind so it's always gratifying to know who enjoys it.

FionaNeill Thu 18-Aug-11 14:32:06

Bye everyone. I am a mumset 'lurker' (correct terminology?) thanks for having me if you didn't get a copy of the book there is extract on this link all best fiona

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-Aug-11 14:34:01

Thanks everybody who took part - and thanks Fiona.

FannyFifer Thu 18-Aug-11 14:34:13

I only posted my question as felt bad as the chat was rather dead, then I got ignored, lol grin

ssd Thu 18-Aug-11 19:24:21

thanks for coming along and answering these questions Fiona

I like the fact that you "got" the way a nanny is crucial to a family then discarded when it suits them

I've worked as a nanny and felt this feeling strongly

If you need any more insights from an ex-nanny, I'd be more than happy to help

oh and cheers for the free book, its being passed amongst my friends as we speak!

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