Book Review: Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe


Just time to sneak in a little last minute review before the weekend is up and running. I wanted to squeeze this in because I think ‘Love Nina’ is such a great weekend read. It’s funny and original, perfect for some down time reading.

I suspect most book worms have already heard of ‘Love Nina’, but just in case you haven’t it goes a bit like this. Nina Stibbe has moved from Leicester to Gloucester Crescent near Regents Park to become  nanny to Will and Sam, the children of Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books. It is the 1980’s and she finds herself thrown into an unknown world of literature and regularly cooking for Alan Bennett and the like. Throughout all of her time in Gloucester Crescent she writes regular letters to her sister Victoria detailing not only the minutiae of daily life but also the conversations she has with the family an all the other people that she has contact with.

This book is a collection of Nina’s letters from those years. Nina is such a natural writer. She is warm engaging and a joy to read. We never get to see Victoria’s response to Nina as only Nina’s letters are included. I was impressed by Nina’s confidence in a world she knew so little of. Maybe it was a combination of innocence and naivety but having heard her speak recently I suspect confidence is her default setting.

This is not just Nina’s story, but Will and Sam and Mary-Kay Wilmer’s story too. I have read that MK in particular was initially unsure about the letters being made public. I guess this is understandable but the family is written about with such affection that I would say she had nothing to fear.

Those letters that detailed conversations between Will, Sam and Mary-Kay, were for me some of the funniest parts of the book and certainly provided a number of laugh out loud moments.

Sam & Will talking about whether they going to take up smoking:

Will: I’m going to have one after every meal.

Sam: So four per day then?

Will: three.

Sam: It’s unhealthy.

Will: Yes, especially if you’ve got asthma

Sam: I’m going to smoke one per day walking to the tube.

Will: What about walking back from the tube?

Sam: Two per day, then.

Will: What about after every meal?

Sam: Stop encouraging me, I’m just having one per day.

Because the book is written, in letters, it is very easy to pick up and put down, although I usually found that once I had picked it up, I didn’t want to put it down again. Any book with a picture of toffo’s on the cover – banana toffos being one of my all time favourite sweets – is alright by me. I loved, ‘Love Nina’

Weekend Wishes to one and all.

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