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The Diary of an American Au Pair: A Novel

3.11  ·  Rating Details ·  387 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
After losing her advertising job in San Francisco and canceling her wedding (though not her engagement) an unencumbered Melissa, who harbors grand illusions about life in England, heads off to a new job as au pair to the family of a Member of Parliament. But the minorly aristocratic Haig-Ereildouns’ household falls far short of Melissa’s imaginings. Mrs. Haig-Ereildoun ref ...more
Paperback, 346 pages
Published April 8th 2003 by Anchor (first published March 12th 2001)
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Jun 02, 2010 Marie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, europe
"The Nanny Diaries" in the UK, "Do Try to Speak As We Do" (the title on my copy of this book) is about a milktoast of a young woman, Melissa, who takes on a job as an au pair in Britain, sight unseen.

It's generally known that au pairs are abused and less regulated than nannies. They also tend to be less experienced.

Melissa expected England and Scotland to be right off the screen of a Merchant Ivory film and was gravely disappointed to meet her snobby and verbally abusive employer, Mrs. Haig-Erei
Karen Germain
Aug 22, 2012 Karen Germain rated it really liked it
I was given this book over four years ago at a Bookcrossing meet up ( a really fun one at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank) and it has sat on my bookshelf ever since. I've been battling a terrible virus and decided that I needed a light read, so I plucked it off the shelf.

I rated Marjorie Leet Ford's "The Dairy of an American Au Pair: A Novel" four out of five stars, not because it's a great book, but I think for it's genre (definitely pulpy chick-lit) it was decent. It's a quick, fun read.

The story is
Jan 09, 2017 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my typical read, and I doubted that I'd finish it after the first chapter or so, but I did really enjoy the characters more and more, as I read. By the end, I was quite happy I'd read it. My favorite part was easily the "You're out walking" game. I can't wait to play it with my family...without telling them the interpretation until later.
Jul 05, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 17, 2016 Jessy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you appreciate a very descriptive book then this book is for you. I do appreciate a good book and i do not particularly have a 'type' and enjoy giving everything a go, however i found this book particularly hard to get into and keep on track with.

I would regularly get confused with what was going on and would have to go back and read it again.. sometimes still leaving me confused. I finished the book because i could not start and leave it... but other than a few obvious facts and I guess a di
Jan 07, 2009 Katharyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Overwhelmed with her life Melissa leave sunny San Francisco to be an Au Pair in the clement United Kingdom, in hopes of gathering her thoughts and regaining some happiness. Nothing is as she expected it to be, and though she’ll ultimately look back on the experiences with fondness much of her time is spend frustrated and confused. Yet somehow Melissa does find herself, and is surprised to find she’s not exactly the person she thought she was.

I love to read books written in a diary format, fictio
Sep 03, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second time of reading and I still enjoyed it. The Diary of an American Au Pair is exactly that - Melissa is the American Au Pair, previously employee of an Advertising company who decides to take some time out in England, finding herself after her wedding to Tedward is called off.
Through her writing we discover that Melissa always seems to just fall into things with no planning, she is a bit of a drip, a doormat, taken for granted by her un-endearing boyfriend in America, treated like a complet
Aug 30, 2010 Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting as a contrast between current (2001) Britsh and American cultures. Upper class British - MP's family - need Au Pair for their three children, one of whom, a 3-year-old, is deaf. The young American (23?) just fired from her job in San Francisco, and running away from a wedding she does/doesnot want, takes the job. The wife/mother/ Priscilla haig-Ereildoun, is a monster --- demanding rediculous levels of precision in ironing! and cleaning, preparing meals, etc., that ...more
Elizabeth K.
Jul 28, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-new-reads
This was quick and mostly fun, a first person novel about being an American nanny for an English family. A good deal of it is indeed that voyeuristic trend of finger-wagging at mothers behaving badly. The aspects I liked the most were the general "fish out of water" parts, I think the author did a great job of describing the experience of being a young person working in a different country -- the times when it's great, the times when it's educational, the times when it's maddening, and the times ...more
Oct 28, 2013 Ann rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-liked
I honestly don`t know what to say about this. Melissa travels to the UK to take on a job as a nanny. She is introduced to a family with three kids. Melissa has a fiancee, Tedward and Simon, friend?

I bought this book, because it takes place in Scotland and England. I liked to get to know more about differences in use of English in the UK and the US.

But.. There was so much narration. I like dialogues. Melissa had the need to describe everything. Everything. Starting from the houses she lived in.
Apr 22, 2011 Lize rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This one was recommended by Nancy Pearl in "Book Lust to Go", and it charmed me. On the surface, it looks like a "Nanny Diaries in London", as early 20-ish Melissa, newly laid off from a San Francisco advertising job and fighting a severe case of 'post-engagement cold feet', takes a post as an au pair for the three childrean of a Scottish MP and his wife (who is horrid enough to give "Nanny Diaries" Mrs. X a run for her money). But the writing is good enough ("Another day, glutting my sorrow on ...more
Jan 30, 2008 Brittany rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Karen
I can see why other people didn't like this book very much, as nothing big really happens. But I really liked it becuase I related to it so well. Other than the engaged to be married part, or the au pair part, or the being skinny part, I was Melissa once apon a time. I'm from Oregon, as she is, and I went off to live in London, as she did, I got confussed with the English lingo (eg bathroom vs wc or loo), as she did, lives for the moment, as she does, and gained 10 pounds off of digestives, as s ...more
Oct 21, 2010 Sariah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a kind of fun, kind of easy read. Very similar to "The Nanny Diaries", but different enough that it didn't feel like I was reading the same story by a different author (I hate that!). I loved the comparisons of life in the US and in Great Britain. I can't get enough of England (yeah, I'm pretty much an Anglophile). I found the main character, Melissa, likable enough, but a little too flaky and/or passive. She made a lot of very spur of the moment decisions and could never stick to her c ...more
I enjoyed the narrator more than the plot, which was a little plodding and meandering for my tastes, but it held my interest the whole way through. And the book had a few twists that I did not expect, which was a welcome surprise. Also, of course, as an American who reads and watches a lot of stuff about English and Scottish people, I really liked her position as an American among the Brits. That made for some good anecdotes -- like how everyone thought it was so funny when she said "sure" inste ...more
May 11, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Sad. Funny. Bitter. Nostalgic. A little sexy, a little scandalous, though not at the same time. It's not a quick read, but it's very easy to read -- conversational but meandering. It's very much a fish out of water story that is also a story of self-discovery and even a little of coming of age story. It's also as much a love letter to the English and to good food as it is a manifesto against the English and horrible bosses. But ultimately, it's just a slice of life book, looking at how one woman ...more
Jan 19, 2014 Kelsey rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2011 Tori added it
2004- I guess after reading The Nanny Diaries, which I liked, I expected this book to be similar. It wasn't. Melissa, an American, goes to England to work as an au pair for the Haig- Ereildoun family after loosing her job and calling off her wedding. The writing style is strange (it's not written in a diary format) and it seemed like it was happening many years ago...I actually couldn't tell the exact time period it was set in. There really is no plot, so it's hard to describe it much further. T ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Why isn't this book more popular? Why is it relegated to "chicklit"? Why would anyone give it less than 100 pp. before they quit? The Observer called Ford a "comparative anthropologist" for her skill at portraying Brit/Am cultural interplay. (My favorite aspect: the breathtaking rudeness of Brits, who claim to be so civilized.) Ford's plotting is SUBTLE, folks, not "slow"! You can't see her doing it for the first half of the book because she's so good at it! And when it all comes together, you g ...more
Jun 19, 2009 Rachel rated it really liked it
I love books about nannies. I love how people probably think the stories are grossly exaggerated for the sake of humor, but nine times out of ten, either I or someone I know has experienced something shockingly similar. I will admit, though, I was getting pretty frustrated with what a push-over the nanny in this book was. And this book was a little more outlandish than others I have read, but still very entertaining!
Oct 06, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has crossed the pond and lived with Brits, and as someone who has worked as an au pair (though here, stateside) I thought this was a wickedly wonderful look at the life in an upper crust British family. The narrator, Melissa, is shrewd even though she is naive...she skewers the wife in particular, but in a fair way...the cast of characters is varied and interesting and Melissa's growth seems genuine. I loved this.
Mar 22, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
I don't normally do this, but I actually stopped reading this book a little over 1/2 way through, because it was THAT boring.

Like the title indicates, it's a diary of an American Au Pair who goes to England after her personal life falls apart just so she can basically step away from everything for awhile. It started out fine but then I thought it got to be too repetitive and she began to just complain too much.
Jul 06, 2007 Alexis rated it it was ok
Not a very good book, but if you are looking for something that you can read without thinking, and if you like all things Europe/Britain, than it may be worth looking into. I was annoyed from the beginning at the choice of the name "Tedward" for the main character's fiancee and was angry throughout the book everytime the name came up. If annoying names don't bother you, you may add another star to the rating ;-) And I appologize to any Tedwards out there who I just offended!
Jan 12, 2011 Arnold rated it it was amazing
A relaxing read, but a book that makes you think how you would deal with similar cultural difference of those who speak English and those from whose culture ours has evolved. A friendly book with a good level of tension. Addresses not ultimate questions but questions we all encounter and that have a bit of ultimate-ness about them
Sep 15, 2010 Laurie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A work of fiction which feels like a memoir, and I wish it really were...the author's bio indicates that she WAS an au pair in England once, and I'd really rather hear of her actual cross-cultural experiences than her to-an-unknown-extent-fictionalized ones. But as an Anglophile American who has raised and cared for children, it was still a very interesting and entertaining read.
Aug 06, 2008 Gemma rated it really liked it
Light, fun book i read on the bus over a week of commutes. Some extremely accurate, hilarious and wise observations; you'll relate if you've ever experienced culture shock (be it geographical, generational or gender-based!)
Oct 09, 2012 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this story. Of course I was intrigued by some of the details that the main character described. I enjoyed it so much and it bugged me that I could not recall the title. Thanks to a kind person it clicked with, I can actually go back and read it again.
Feb 01, 2011 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This story of an au pair in a Scottish Family has some nice moments, particularly when the main character works at teaching the family's deaf three year old to speak. I have yet to find the book compelling, but I may get there.
Jen S.
Jan 10, 2009 Jen S. rated it really liked it
Loved this! Way better than The Nanny Diaries. More genuine and sincere, less complaining and whining.
Mar 28, 2009 Kate rated it liked it
I found this book at St. Vinnie's and decided to pick it up. I liked the Nanny Diaries and hope for a bit of escapism but light hearted reading with this one. This was an interesting read, comparing British and American cultures..
Apr 22, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
The edition I read was actually called "Do Try to Speak as We Do," and I picked it up on recommendation from Nancy Pearls' "Book Lust to Go." It was a fun, fairly quick read with lots of interesting and amusing moments of British vs. American language, culture, and lifestyle.
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