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What The Nanny Saw
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What The Nanny Saw

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,283 ratings  ·  214 reviews
It's the summer of 2008. For the past decade Nick and Bryony Skinner and their four children have ridden high on the economic boom, but their luck is about to run out. Suddenly, the privileged family finds itself at the center of a financial scandal:
their Central London house is besieged by the press, Nick disappears, and Bryony and the children become virtual prisoners in...more
Paperback, 548 pages
Published August 18th 2011 by Penguin (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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When I began reading What the Nanny Saw I wasn’t overly impressed or bowled away by the first few chapters. It seemed slow to start and only mildly interesting. However, as I delved deeper into the book, I found it harder and harder to put down. The plot was absolutely compelling.

If I were to rate this book on character development alone, I would probably give it a two. While the story is rich with characters, I found that I was indifferent to them. The main character Ali is the nanny who sees a...more
Sep 21, 2012 K rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
At first glance you might think that this book is another story of a young female being overworked while caring for privileged children of rich snobby parents, ala The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin. But if you keep up with this story you come across a much deeper read that involves the 2008 banking crises, family interactions and even the theme of trust and loyalty.

Nick Skinner is the managing director of an investment bank connected with a major US investment bank. Bryony owns a financial pu...more
There has been a lot of commentary recently about chick lit and its place in the literary spectrum - with What the Nanny Saw, Fiona Neill makes a beautiful riposte. It has all the components of a chick lit novel - over-the-top characters, a slightly contrived situation, a romance that you can see coming - but places them within a fiercely intelligent story examining the minutiae of scandal, finance and the media.

On the face of it, we are reading about Ali Sparrow and her attempts to play the par...more
Kelly Jean
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. I agree with other reviewers that it was slow-starting at first. I hung in there because the subject matter interested me (although I would have been fine with a lot less financial details). I was very annoyed about halfway through the book when a background story showed up out of nowhere for Ali which seemed totally out of character for her. I thought it did nothing for the book, and if it had to be included, should have been at the start.
I finished it but i...more
Erin Gillen
cute....much like Nanny diaries...i found it entertaining if not somewhat predictable....a good mindless beach kind of book....though I did learn a fun fact...the reason the Meditteranean sea is so clear is for lack of phosphorous which phytoplankton need to thrive (it seems that they are what gives our ocean a "less clear" appearance) for me, the book was worth the answer to one more jeopardy question!
What the Nanny Saw gives an intimate, indepth look at the world of high finance in 2008 London from the perspective of a nanny in the home of an investment banker, Nick Skinner and his wife, Bryony, owner of her own PR company. Their life of privilege includes a five-story house in the best section of London, private schools for their four chiildren, summer house in Greece, live-in staff, and extravagant purchases, and a dinner party where Elton John entertains. When Ali is hired as nanny to the...more
Ellyn Oaksmith
One sentence in this book had me plowing through it to see what happens. It has nothing to do with the background of this story, which is the financial downfall of the sub-prime mortgage industry of 2008. It's the love affair that a nanny has while working for a supremely rich family in London. "She felt loved," was the sentence and we hear it as she is fleeing the home, even as she feels drawn to it's inhabitants.

What is refreshing about this book is that unlike many books about the uber-wealt...more
For a 450 page book, I was not overly impressed. While I did finish the entire thing, I feel like it was way too drawn out, and there were many details that related to the financial crisis aspect of the story that should have been drawn out more than others. I feel like there were some parts of the book that didn't necessarily belong in the text and I found myself questioning why they were included. While the story is supposed to be about the credit crisis and its effect on the Skinner family (a...more
Funmi Adetunji
This was not a particularly good book. In fact, it was really boring. I admit, I only got halfway through before I decided to quit. I was really struggling to get through it, and there's no reason why that should be. The plot itself is uncreative, but not terrible- a poor college student takes a year off to work as a nanny for an affluent London family. Some financial scandal occurs, and the nanny is asked to give her testimony. The writing was okay, too. Maybe introducing the 'secret scandal' i...more
Steph Hall
This book was an OK read, though the main character Ali was not very believable and I felt the author was using the characters in her own way, rather than staying true to them as "individuals" if that makes sense. It was one of those books that you kind of feel you have read before as it has many cliches, but its an OK "switch your brain off" type of read. However, I have to say that whilst I am not a prude, I do hate the use of the "c" word (the 4 letter one!) in a book, and it lent nothing to...more
Long, detailed account of a young English woman who ends up as a nanny for a family embroiled in the financial scandals of 2007-2008. The characters are very well fleshed out, and I actually learned quite a bit about what caused the finance crisis, though the details are mercifully couched in a more mundane story about what it's like to be the hired help for a very rich family.
Ik ben zelf au pair geweest bij een redelijk rijk Brits gezin, vandaar dat boeken over au pairs en nannies mij meestal wel aanspreken. Wat de Nanny zag van Fiona Neill vind ik wel een van de betere boeken over dit onderwerp, omdat het niet alleen gaat over de zorg van de kinderen en de onhebbelijkheid van de ouders, maar ook over de plaats van een nanny in een gezin en hoe complex zo'n relatie soms is. Een ander belangrijk onderwerp in dit boek is de financiële wereld en de economische crisis. D...more
Oct 23, 2011 Hollie added it
Quite a good book, too much banking/shares stuff in it though. The rest of the story is good and it would have been better to have had more of the character storylines rather than banking stuff that I really don't understand. Would have liked the ending to have been better though.
This book reminded me of the Nanny Diaries but set in London and the Nanny was employed by a financial banker accused of insider trading. It was a quick read and fairly entertaining but nothing I would recommend.
From my book review blog:

Well, much to my disappointment, I've given up on this one. I've got 2 main reasons.

#1: I tried like 5 or more times to get into this book, but could never read more than like 15 pages in each sitting. It just wasn't interesting enough to hook me. I'm not sure if it was the content of the story, the characters, or the writing style, but something just wasn't clicking.

#2: The foul language. This book wasn't super bad in regard to language,...more
Neill, Fiona. What the Nanny Saw. Unabridged. 13 CDs. 16 Hours. Tantor. 2013. ISBN: 978-1-4526-0894-5. $44.99. F

When Ali adds up her school debt and her affair with her married tutor it equals not continuing in University. She takes a job as nanny for wealthy, privileged Nick and Bryony Skinner. She must become accustomed to being treated with courtesy and generosity one minute, and then being overlooked or forgotten the next. As the 2008-9 financial crisis hits all over the world, Ali witnesses...more
I received an advanced reading copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. At first I thought it was going to be the British version of "The Nanny Diaries" and just a fun summer read. A few chapters in, however, I realized this was more substantial. I cared a lot about what was happening with these characters. I thought Ali, the narrator and title character, was a bit underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of the characters, but overall was well-portrayed. I found myself wanting to get bac...more
Carrie Smith
What The Nanny Knew (unabridged) by Fiona Neil Audiobook Tantor 15.75 hrs.

Read by Alison Larkin

What The Nanny Knew by Fiona Neill is a unique story that crosses the fictional chicklit nanny genre with the unexpected non-fiction of recent financial history. Quite an extraordinary coupling, filled with humour and intelligence, as it takes the sometimes difficult to understand 2008 global economic meltdown and mixes it into the plot line as a mystery. The book is enhanced by the superior audio acti...more
Carrie Smith
What The Nanny Knew (unabridged) by Fiona Neil Audiobook Tantor 15.75 hrs.

Read by Alison Larkin

What The Nanny Knew by Fiona Neill is a unique story that crosses the fictional chicklit nanny genre with the unexpected non-fiction of recent financial history. Quite an extraordinary coupling, filled with humour and intelligence, as it takes the sometimes difficult to understand 2008 global economic meltdown and mixes it into the plot line as a mystery. The book is enhanced by the superior audio acti...more
Ali Sparrow needs money for her tuition for her course at the university and needs to get away from the university after having an affair with her tutor. An advert from Byrony and Nick Skinner for a nanny catches her eye. She applies and gets the job. She has no idea what she is in for.

Before she knows it, she becomes the mainstay of their lives. She is there for the five-year-old twins, for their teenage daughter and also keeping everything sorted for Byrony. As a nanny, she becomes the invisib...more
Andrea Mullarkey
When Ali accepts a job as nanny to high-powered London couple Nick & Bryony as a way to earn money to finish her degree, she gets herself into a situation much more complicated than could have been anticipated. She is absorbed into the machinations of this super-wealthy and well-connected, but inevitably dysfunctional family. Then husband Nick becomes embroiled in a banking scandal and the family, already on shaky ground, unravels further. As an intimate to the family and the only one outsid...more
Chosen as something light and easy to read whilst ill, it's actually quite annoying. There is a lot of clumsy exposition, written as if the characters were saying it in 2006, about matters that would be involved in the financial crisis in 2008. Ali (the nanny and main character) isn't terribly believable as a 23-year old student ... I get the feeling she's mostly just a vehicle for what the author would do in the situation. The spelling of her name can be confusing to the flow of the story, as i...more
"What the Nanny Saw" is a book that I have won through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

The book started out a little slow and took me a while to really get into it. The nanny, Ali, is hired to take care of 4 children for Nick and Bryony Skinner. Ali is taken into their confidences somewhat and she feels comfortable taking care of their children; although they can get to be a handful sometimes. This privileged and wealthy family becomes the center of a financial crisis. Scandal is following th...more
Sherry Saunders
It was a tossup for me deciding whether to give this 2 or 3 stars. I'm actually not sure why I even finished this book. The story was okay, predictably about the life of a governess to the children of a British family whose father was employed by Lehman Bros. during the banking crisis. The opening of the book reveals that there's been a financial catastrophe in the family, and then jumps back to the beginning of Ali's employment and the unfolding of how the family gets to the point of crisis. Th...more
Barbara Elsborg
I'd like to give this book two and half stars. It was part way between being okay and liking it. Some parts I did like, others I didn't. It was however, an intelligent read and well written, just some of the characters that didn't work for me.
It's the story of Ali - a bright English student who goes to work as a nanny for a very rich family. The family come unstuck in the financial crisis of a few years ago and the novel builds the reader up for the fall of Lehmans. BUT - I didn't really find a...more
Ann Douglas
The first chapter was so dry that I almost abandoned the book. The story is unnecessarily complex (so many fringe characters, many with obscure/difficult/similar names!), but, at the same time, the plot is predictable. The quality of the writing is the book's sole redeeming quality, which is why I gave it three stars as opposed to two.
Jo Stallworth
I have to agree with the last reviewer. It did start slowly, until I realized I was completely caught up in it. I just finished the second chapter. Wow! I am listening to this in audio, and this (Tantor Audio) version has a British narrator (Alison Larkin), which really brings me into the story. Two reasons it seems to start slowly are that there is little dialogue and a lot of the nanny's observations and inner voice. However, this is exactly what draws you in. Beyond the Upstairs/Downstairs dy...more
Meh. This books was at least 150 pages too long. It should have been a fun-ish, summer read, but instead was like the author was trying to show off her big brain about the financial crash of 2008. It was so seriously tedious in places, I'm amazed I made it to the end. I have no desire to read more from this author.
I really liked this book. It takes place in London during the financial meltdown of 2008. The nanny in the title takes a job with an incredibly rich, flashy family who have more money than sense. The husband works for Lehman's and the wife has a financial PR firm. The nanny has to learn to deal with young twin boys who are extraordinarily close to one another, a young teen girl and an older teen boy, not to mention the wife's parents. She's never been a nanny before so she depends on the advice...more
After having finished What the Nanny Saw I still can't comment on what it is exactly that "she saw". Anyway, I may be taking this too literally! The story unfolds of a nanny that works for a high-society, rich family and is exposed to their foibles, weaknesses & frailties.
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Fiona Neill is a novelist and journalist. She was born in 1966. Her first novel The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy, based on her column in The Times Magazine every Saturday, was published in 2007. It was widely acclaimed and went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller that sold in twenty-five countries.

Brought up in Norfolk, she now lives in London with her husband and three children.

Fiona is pres...more
More about Fiona Neill...
Slummy Mummy Friends, Lovers and Other Indiscretions Het Geheime Leven Van Een Ploetermoeder/Spitsuur, omnibus The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy En utjekket mors hemmelige liv

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“It was both exhilarating and terrifying to discover that someone needed you as much as you needed them.” 4 likes
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