Love, Nina is a series of letters a young nanny writes home to her sister Victoria charting her adventures in 1980’s London. Mary Poppins she most definately isn’t as she bumbles through caring for Will and Sam, trying to keep up with the other nannies and occasionally doing some studying. To further complicate things, her boss and the boys’ mother is Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the the London Review of Books, who casually has the glitterati of the book world popping in. It doesn’t help that Nina, an often experimental and disaster-prone cook, is made to cater for these visitors and also thinks regular face Alan Bennett has a part in Coronation Street.
There were times when I never thought that I would finish Love, Nina never mind it going on to becoming one of my favourite reads this year. There are times that Nina seems really childish and even irritating and occasionally Mary-Kay could seem this way too – like an incident where they rather flippantly decided to get rid of the family cat because nobody really liked it. It’s times like these that the boys feel like the adults and that really seems wrong. What kept me going though was although I’m sure these letters have a had a good edit before publication, they retain so much honesty that I think maybe one or two people may not be too pleased with how they are portrayed at times. As with every family, whilst you love them, you may not always like what they are doing. I think that goes for all the people featured in Love,Nina because, as a reader peeking into their everyday lives, you see the best and worst of the family and still feel a compulsive need to read on. Having said all that, the thing that really hooks you and again comes out in every single character is the brilliant humour and you get the feeling that it would be so much fun to be part of the Wilmer household. Overall though, my favourite person from this book has to be Alan Bennett who keeps popping in, makes some really great sound bites and leave again. Stephen Fry has been described as the nations favourite uncle but after reading this, I’d have to argue that he’d need to share that title with Bennett. If there’s one thing Love, Nina has left me with, it’s an overwhelming need to run out and buy Bennett’s complete works.