Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Nina Stibbe: Love, Nina

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I believe that THB may have called "Love, Nina" the book of the year the year he read it. The year is still young, but if my books continue to be so ho hum (or if I keep making bad choices), this could definitely be it. Love, Nina is definitely shooting for best sleeper/surpriser/who knew? book.

Nina Stibbe was a nanny in the very early 80s in London. It turns out that she worked for a family of literary types who turned out to be movers and shakers in the literary world. I'm not sure that Nina really knew that, then, or that she herself was quite a writer. She hadn't gone to college- she had moved from her town (which sounds small) to London to nanny for some boys. The book consists of her letters home to her sister, signed, of course, Love, Nina. She tells of her days with the literary movers and shakers as though they are just your average quirky families on the street, because to her, they are just that. (To be honest, without Google, they are just that to your average California reader, which is fine, too, because her writing is so great.) The letters home are hilarious, dry, quirky and funny. She is a bit self-deprecating, but more, she portrays her faults through snippets of less-than-flattering dialogue of the family about her. She loves the boys she cares for, and their wit and personality comes through as though they were little men living in the house with you, not with her.

This book actually made me laugh out loud- I can't remember the last time I said that. I also can't remember the last time I recommended a book to so many people. To be fair, though, that may be the nature of the type of book I read, not the comparative amazingness of this book over the others. (Hard to tell people to read a book about how humanitarian aid is fucking up the world... It's weird how no one else likes to read footnotes...) Highly recommended, to pretty much anyone!