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

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  749 ratings  ·  87 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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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...more
Nathalie S
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
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...more
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...more
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!
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....more
David Proffitt
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...more
Ian Mapp
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 -...more
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
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...more
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
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
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...more
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.
This book was laugh-out loud funny! It is a hilarious spoof of the kind of parent that you despise and secretly, unconsciously aim to be all at once. These are people who see every second of their child's life as a "learning monent," take every possible precaution, and mainly compete with each other fiercely via their "little geniuses." This is the story of one mother and her very average daughter, and the lengths that she will go to in order to convince herself and her frenemies that her daught...more
Thomas Strömquist
"Great O'Farrell on parenting. My guess is that parents would like it even more, considering the recognition and self-knowledge factors (or, then again, they may just dislike it for the same reasons). "
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
Howard Weaver
Should be read by all yummy mummies, pushy parents and anyone who wants a laugh at their expense.
Dreda Corlett
Pants. Don't waste your time.
Outlandish and entertaining. While no one could believe that an adult could pass for an 11 yr old, we all can believe that a helicopter parent could want to solve their children's challenges & ordain their future. Suspend your doubts, and just enjoy this satire.
Mar 21, 2008 Marjie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marjie by: John
This is the first book I have managed to finish in the last two years. It is a very funny satire on the dilemna parents face about school choice. The family live closeted in a safe middle class circle competitively striving to have their children do and be better than their frineds while all of South London goes on unnoticed arround them. The mom gets so worried about her 11 year old daughter she decides to disguise herself as her daughter and sit an entrance exam for her. Light, easy, funny rea...more
Okay, I thought the beginning was annoying and I guess it was supposed to be because the characters then have a life-changing realization and are more likable, but I still hated the beginning and it only partially redeemed itself. Also, the reviews claimed it was "laugh out loud funny" and it wasn't even laugh quietly to yourself funny. I kept thinking he was trying to emulate Nick Hornby with no success.
A comedy about urban Guardianista competitive parenting, in particular, the lengths some will go to to ensure admission to a good senior school. Ludicrously implausible aspects of the plot, coupled with basic errors (you don't sit the 11+ when you are 11 years old, but to determine where you transfer to once you are that old), but a few of the caricatures are mildly amusing and it's a very quick read.

Sarah Conrick
About a couple who will do ANYTHING to get their daughter into a posh private school in Chelsea rather than have her darken the doors of the local comp (in Battersea). Satirical take on hyper-parenting and 'keeping up with the Jones' mentality prevalent in certain pockets of London (and everywhere else for that matter). Spot-on satire that I found mildly amusing rather than side-splitting.
I read this book and I wonder who are all those people who rated it and made positive comments about it. I mean, their choice of words describes something that's suppose to be higher than average. The only feeling I had after reading half of this was anger. I bet they didn't even read the book and had the guts to come here and say nice things about it. What is, for you, sense of humour?
This was a cute story set in upper class current-day England where the parents are perhaps just a TOUCH too overprotective of their children. It is intended to be an exaggeration, but truly seemed to be pretty close to home for the early 2000s. Perhaps if I had had kids, it would have hit closer to home. But, it was a good tale and a quick read. A light dessert for my reading meal.
Very prevelant as my own Molly enters her final year at primary school. The first half is laugh out loud hilarious with spot on observations. Which, as the male author writes from a female perspective, is brilliantly clever! As the story journeys towards its conclusion the moral content provides a tap on my shoulder several times! Excellent read.
Margherita Dolcevita
Divertentissima e pungente la prima parte, ahimè si perde un po' nel finale, troppo sdolcinato e volemosebbbene. E' un peccato perchè se lo spirito dei primi capitoli fosse rimasto intatto sarebbe venuto fuori un ritratto spassoso e spietato di una certa classe inglese, di certi genitori e di certe scuole (private).
Janet Harrison
fantastically funny - with lots of laugh out loud moments Particularly amusing since I know half the mothers in this book!
Jenny L
This did have some laugh out loud moments, but still is not as good as "The Best a Man Can Get". The story line with Alice taking her daughter's school exams is a little far fetched! but overall, it's funny book. I do think sometimes the humour feels a little forced and again, it's not one I could hand on heart recommend.
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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
More about John O'Farrell...
The Best A Man Can Get An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots In Charge The Man Who Forgot His Wife Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter, 1979-1997 This Is Your Life

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