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May Contain Nuts: A Novel of Extreme Parenting
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May Contain Nuts: A Novel of Extreme Parenting

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,021 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
Alice never imagined she would end up like this, so anxious after hearing about the dangers of meteorites that she makes her children wear bike helmets in the wading pool. Her husband, David, has taught their four-year-old to list every animal represented in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. But the more they push their children, the more things there are to worry about. It ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 7th 2005 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 2005)
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Feb 28, 2010 Leah rated it liked it
Funny, witty, and TOTALLY over the top!

In telling the story of a clique of parents desperately trying to get their 11 year old daughters into a high-status middle school, the author has created the perfect amalgam of the insane, uptight parents in our world. These parents are known to every "normal" parent as they make us feel inferior, while making our skin crawl... who would do THAT to their kid? (Should I be doing that? Is it really good for him?)

A fun read. Lots of chuckles, giggles, and
Nathalie S
Sep 03, 2012 Nathalie S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title comes from one of the characters who will not let her children eat anything at someone else' home unless she reads the label because "it may contain nuts"--the catch is, she does not know if her child is allergic to nuts because the child has never had any but just in case...The line under the book title is "A novel of extreme parenting" and it pretty much sums up this funny book. Alice and David are forty-something Brits with three children and are UBER concerned about doing the absol ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Gioconda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I felt kind of irritated by that book. It is obvious, the author is leaning to the left. As a consequence, his characters are the caricatures of the "bad guys" (either immoral or stupid) how left wing imagines them. The story full of strawmen.

Or could I be underestimating the stupidity of English upper middle class ? I am from a different country, in fact I am Eastern European, so maybe I should take into account, if some people write, they know people like that ? Still hard to believe.

But, seri
David Proffitt
Feb 23, 2014 David Proffitt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whilst there is no recognised blueprint for being a good parent, there are some things that you instinctively know are just wrong. And as any parent will know, protecting your offspring from the darker side of the real world is a seemingly impossible task. But just how far do you go to protect your precious children? How much are you prepared to do to ensure their passage through to adulthood is a smooth as possible?

Which brings the next great question, how much should you protect them?

In Alice
Apr 30, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the opening pages in which Tony Blair is thrust on a long pole into a busy road from behind a parked car, you know that you're in for a treat with this fantastic novel from John O'Farrell.

Regular readers of The Times' "Slummy Mummy" column will recognise the flavour as the heroine, Alice Chaplin, desperately tries to keep up with the Joneses (or in this case the Russells) at her daughter's school. But when it's time for young Molly to earn her place at the most sought-after secondary school
May 08, 2009 Kirsty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This book was everything I look for in a good humour book. It's a satirical look at parents who would literally do anything to make sure that their kids succeed. Teetering on the edge between real life and bizarre exaggeration, this book looks at the rivalry between parents of kids who are the same age and are trying to get into a prestigious school. The crazy thing is, it's not really that exaggerated when you look at some parents today!

The book was very well paced. I didn't want to put it down
Judit Gonzalez
Aug 04, 2015 Judit Gonzalez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, did I laugh while I read!
Wonderful, funny, witty. I saw myself sometimes reflected in Alice (even though I was not a mom yet... but I could see myself freaking out already when I become one).
Great read for a lousy evening, so it really cheers you up.
Sep 05, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May Contain Nuts is an hysterical look at the lengths middle class parents will go to ensure that their children have all of the perceived "advantages." This is a laugh-out-load page turner that spawned a British television show. This is not heavy literature, and it is directed towards a British audience, so the nomenclature will be a bit foreigh to American readers. O'Farrell has a similar writing style to Bill Bryson so this is an ideal holiday read. Enjoy!
Aug 23, 2016 Lynne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 29, 2015 Debby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I thought would be nothing more than a light and funny read about overprotective helicopter parents had a rather surprising ending and an important point to make. It didn't all work out for everyone in the end, and not everyone who deserved it got their comeuppance, but lessons were learned and the kids were finally allowed to be not perfect and carefree, instead of driven to be perfect and the best at everything at any cost.
Dec 18, 2011 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
humour inglese molto simpatico; peccato per il finale che più sdolcinato e banale non si può.
Tara Edelman
Jan 29, 2013 Tara Edelman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very funny, extreme and cynical.
Aug 07, 2014 Cas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I bought this as a Kindle book on the basis of the good reviews, but I was disappointed.
It was mildly amusing, but only on the basis of taking class cliches and doing them to death. This would have perhaps worked well as an amusing column on the back of a Sunday paper's magazine, but as a full length novel it is laboured, self- aware and tedious. And although the story was told through the voice of a woman, it wasn't convincing and it read as though a male had written it, which made it very odd.
May 01, 2016 EpidermaS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
„Może zawierać orzeszki” to książka z tego samego wora, co „Stulatek…” i dokładnie w tych kategoriach należy ją oceniać. Jak pozycja sprawdziła się jako czasoumilacz? Zaczęłam od: „O luuudzie, ale to będzie żenujące…”, a kończyłam na pięknym, nie schodzącym z twarzy bananie. Sam finał był co prawda nieco moralizatorski i przewidywalny, ale bardzo optymistycznie nastraja do życia. Po lekturze mam wrażenie, że autor to po prostu równy gość, z którym ma się ochotę wyjść na pizzę i pogadać o niczym, ...more
Ian Mapp
Dec 17, 2012 Ian Mapp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I rather enjoyed this book - although the amount of laughs per page meant that it got rather annoying after a while. Its the literary equivalent of the office joker from the fast show and gets a bit monotonous.

Starts excellently, with a concerned middle class 36 year old woman starting a one person campaign against speeding in her road by creating a small boy (complete with a Tony Blair mask) which is waved in front of passing cars, causing an accident.

This is the main thrust of the book -
Sep 10, 2011 Xanthi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few books by this author and have always enjoyed his sense of humour. This book was entertaining and enjoyable. Written from the perspective of a 30 something English woman. The narrative reminded me of Nick Hornby's "How to be good" novel. Although my political leanings veer towards the left, like the authors, and although I grew up in a rough area and went to a working class school (be it in Australia and not England), I could not help feeling he played the bad bits down and play ...more
Daniela Soares
O livro tem uma premissa muito interessante, mas a maior parte da narrativa é bem monótona. Vale por umas sacadas muito boas e principalmente pelos três últimos capítulos que são realmente interessantes e fazem o livro todo valer a pena de ser lido - mesmo que a classificação de livro de humor não seja verdadeira, pelo menos no meu caso, que não achei o livro tão engraçado a ponto de dar gargalhadas, apenas alguns sorrisos em trechos esparsos.

Para ter uma ideia, demorei dois meses para terminá-l
Jun 29, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A satire on obsessive middle class parenting. Alice and Dave are over-informed and under-critical, adopting every faddish theory on child-rearing devised by so-called experts. Alice reads books like Feng Shui Your Brain and The Karma Accountant (Dharma auditing software sold separately). Their social circle are mostly pretentious snobs who rationalize their neo-liberal condescencion (and fear) of the working class and ethnic minorities in terms of wanting to get their own children into a suitabl ...more
Jan 24, 2015 Urszula rated it did not like it
So I have finally finished this book. It was not my choice – it is our next Book Club book – so I had to read it. Since there were only 2 books in the local library (not surprised there) I had to borrow the audio version. Which normally would have not been an issue, but listening to this book put me in a bad mood and I would start and finish my day cranky. By second disc I was ready to use them as anything else but audio books -> preferably flying saucers never to return. By third disk I was ...more
Apr 11, 2015 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-humour
Very funny, well written and easy to read, with its ridiculously over the top, implausable plot and bonkers characters. The ultra competitive mums who pack their children's lives full of extra curricular activities and extra tuition scare the hell out of me. He has captured the steely, smug, focused, blinkered, ambitious mums steering their children towards academic, high achieving greatness with frightening accuracy.
The time when our children are totally dependent on us is actually such a short phase of our lives.
At the time you think they will need you for ever, requiring us to make every decision in their young lives. Beware of overanxious parenting as it hinders your enjoyment, as seen in this satirical novel, which works so well because it is based on home truths!

Every second of the children's lives is run to a strict timetable with constant activities. Sadly this reflects today's society with many pa
Oct 30, 2014 Nigel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah, yeah, we can all relate to the characters, we all know a Ffion and the final couple of pages are tearjerkingly touching, but I can't help thinking this was written specifically for Hugh Grant. Whilst this was an amusingly enjoyable read, I would have to disagree with those who declared it hilariously laugh out loud funny. ( although a four year old claiming his most violent swear word to be "INDICATE" did raise a smile)
Mar 31, 2014 Jerome rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-again
I picked this book up in the library, read some get reviews, and was looking forward to laughing from cover to cover. I consider I have a good sense of humour..seriously, not once did I laugh. Throughout the read I was waiting, I waited but nothing remotely funny tickled me. This book goes on my 'never read again' shelf.
Nick Davies
This was very funny in places, but I can't help feeling a little like some of the themes aren't relevant to me (as a non-parent) hence I assumed I was understanding only some of the witty content. The central theme - parents wanting the best for their children (and going a little too far to ensure this) was well constructed and many will sympathise with the characters.
Virginia Rand
The writing style was kinda funny and would have worked well in a short story, but it got anoying and I couldn't stand any of the characters. :-(
Jan 16, 2016 Nigel added it
Very amusing and made me laugh out loud, his observations combined with a great sense of irongy make this a great distracton of an evening.
Jan 11, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a hoot--especially if you have dealt with or can relate to competitive parenting. The extremes that the parents in this book go to to advance their daughter to the "best" middle school is extremely funny. Or the way O'Farrell describes the mom uses a Tony Blair mask (the author is British) on a stick to try and slow cars that she thinks are driving too fast down her street. I think this book works is because no one would go to these extremes, the author captures the insecurity of pa ...more
Penny Little
A tongue in cheek look at parents who want the best for their children - no matter how they get it. I only found it mildly amusing.
Sandra Brown
Feb 05, 2016 Sandra Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this, had to try hard at times not to burst out laughing on the bus.
Feb 07, 2016 Raff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abso-fuckin'-lutely hilarious. Try it!
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John O'Farrell is the author of four novels: The Man Who Forgot His Wife, May Contain Nuts, This Is Your Life and The Best a Man Can Get. His novels have been translated into over twenty languages and have been adapted for radio and television. He has also written two best-selling history books: An Utterly Impartial History of Britain and An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain, as well a ...more
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