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My Hollywood

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,197 ratings  ·  262 reviews
A wonderfully provocative and appealing novel, from the much-loved author of Anywhere But Here and A Regular Guy, her first in ten years. It tells the story of two women whose lives entwine and unfold behind the glittery surface of Hollywood.

Claire, a composer and a new mother, comes to LA so her husband can follow his passion for writing television comedy. Suddenly the ma
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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385th out of 1,273 books — 2,387 voters
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26th out of 175 books — 38 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,760)
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This book was hard to stick with. The writing is good, but the plot is elusive. The characters are not shallow, but I never really felt that connected. The writing is poetic, but it is too soft, and becomes like a watercolor that is blurry and pale. This novel needs more than washes of color that allude to things like weather and buildings, nuances of expressions rather than full frontal portraits. I found it convoluted and jumpy.

The point of view goes back and forth between the two main charac
On their first date, Paul and Claire have already divvied the responsibilities of keeping their careers and managing a child: The former as a TV comedy write; the latter as a classical composer.

"50/50," Paul tells her -- which in retrospect becomes the laughable math of a man who will spend 14 hours day with other writers, trying to create comedy. A sound stage where he looks more at home than when he is at home, and a steady stream Diet Coke coursing through his bladder. Claire's not exactly hi
My Hollywood is a soulful, insightful journey through the worlds of motherhood and caregiving in "Hollywood," (which is really Santa Monica, CA). Told alternately from the points of view of a Filipina nanny (Lola) and the young mother she works for (Claire), the story takes place during the 1990s, a time and place I know well, and the tone always rings true. The novel delves deeply into the psyches of these two women and centers primarily around Lola's experience as she balances her competing de ...more

I had many problems with this novel.

First and foremost I could not stand Claire, the mother. I know we are supposed to like Lola more than Claire and that Claire's redemption is part of the whole plot, however, I found Claire to be narcissistic and boring. She was an imbecile who should never have had children.

Second, as someone familiar with Los Angeles, I found the picture of Los Angeles that the author presented to be stereotypical and shallow. Los Angles is a very complex city with many laye
I don't know why I bothered with this book. I didn't like the previous book I read from this same author, but it came up, so whatever. I was blah on this book too. I don't know why. The topic is okay, but just how it's written, it just doesn't do it for me. This book is about two different women's life in Los Angeles. One is your typical "Hollywood" mother. She and her husband moved out west so he could get a low level job writing for a TV show before he becomes the toast of town. They have a so ...more
I wasn't always crazy about the writing style--found it unnecessarily obscure in parts, but I did really like the characterization of Claire and Lola in counterpoint. The lives of privileged stay-at-home mothers compared to their nannies, was well-done, avoiding too much stereotyping, except when that is the point! It really made me think about the way we treat babysitters and immigrant workers. Unfortunately, many of the characters are really hard to like, especially among the mothers. Slowly w ...more
Novel. Deals with similar issues as Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Juxtaposes the voices of a 30-something mother of one (a son) and the Filipino grandmother nanny who cares for her child during the week. The nanny has a family of her own, with a husband, children and grandchildren back in the Philippines but works in the States to earn $$ to send back to her family so they can get a good education. A good education is of ultimate importance to her. Her values compared with the values of the Ameri ...more
Karen Skinner
I really enjoyed this book. Kind of a modern day, across the country version of The Help. Really pulls back the layers on so many topics from classism, racism,etc, all under the guise of what it means to be a mother, a wife, a friend. I love stories that explore cultures other than my own, and because so many west coast nannies are Fillipinas, Asians, Hispanic, I got a different angle! And this is not glamour-filled Hollywood. This is striving-to-be-someone and not quite making it Hollywood. A s ...more
Parenthood, I often write on greeting cards to new parents, is an exercise in failure. When you’re finished tiptoeing through the tulips with the Snugli strapped to your chest, take your addle-brained self to a quiet room and steel yourself against the mistakes you are about to make. Acknowledge right then and there from the Comfort Grand Swivel Glider that many – if not most – of the actions you will take in association with this helpless miniature human are likely to be wrong-headed, brash, il ...more
Jennifer Rayment
The Good Stuff

Characters are very realistic
Makes you think about the life of a Nanny
Very honest
some nice dry humor

The Not so Good Stuff

I disliked pretty much all of the characters.
Couldn't understand the decisions the characters made or have any understanding of the worlds they are from
Quite depressing
Writing style seemed to be almost fragmented, which left me lost and confused
Uncomfortable to read at times, as some of the thoughts the characters mention bring back my thoughts while I w
So far so good. "My Hollywood" is the story of two women: (1) a composer-turned-mother who struggles with modern motherhood and (2) her son's nanny. Certainly as a mother who has had her own struggles with her identity as a woman/mother, I appreciate the book's themes and exploration of motherhood a great deal. The author has a deft touch and an interesting style. I read the first page of the book a couple of months ago and didn't like her style -- it felt too clipped. (Read the first page to se ...more
Alex Templeton
The thing that really affected my opinion of this book--which is about a Hollywood community of rich folks and their often Filipina nannies, alternately narrated by a nanny and a mother--was its style. Simpson is a literate and intelligent writer, but I found that there were, for lack of a better term, gaps. Thoughts would be finished and another picked up, and I felt that I was missing something, that something necessary had not been written in between. This made it harder to connect to the sto ...more
************Spoiler Alert!!*********************

I have no idea why anyone would rate this book with more than 2 stars.

I've been reading this one for a bit--it's a 16+ hour audio, for one thing. But mostly because I dreaded getting into the car and turning it on. Why didn't I stop? Because I bought it--and I don't waste money.

I defy these other reviewers to prove to me why they think it's so much like "The Help." Just because a story has a maid in it does not "The Help" make. Sure, Lola had stru
I was annoyed with the protagonist of this book, Claire. On the outside, I have so much in common with her. But on the inside I felt myself identifying more and more with Lola, the nanny. In the end I found Claire's "too cool to be a mom" attitude, her narcissistic and almost sickly attachment to her career, and her resentment of her child and husband not very believable. I think that's the way that people expect women who are career-oriented to feel about the family/work dichotomy. They expect ...more
This is one of those books that is hard to rate. The mother characters are not very likeable, so in some respects the book is painful. It is an interesting look at the lives of immigrant women (often professionals in their own countries), working as domestic help in LA (they call them babysitters in the book). Negotiations, finding positions, what they are leaving behind in their country, the love for the children they care for. 2.5
Clarice Stasz
Simpson alternates the narrative between two women, a composer/mother and a nanny, Lola. The nanny's voice is in Filipino-American, which means articles are missing and the syntax is not like Standard English. She even had a Filipino immigrant vet the speech. But the result is to make reading difficult, as well as feed into a stereotype of immigrant nannies as ignorant. As Simpson demonstrates, they are highly competent, and often well educated. This. Stylistic choice made it hard to follow shat ...more
Frances Coles
I admire the hell out of Mona Simpson. I sort of want to be her. This book was not my favorite Mona Simpson novel that I've read (Anywhere But Here, and about half of The Lost Father, which I actually think is even better than Anywhere But Here, even though I haven't finished it yet) but I did like many things about it: the Hollywood setting, of course, and many typically precise and accurate observations about the particular pressures and tribulations of upper-middle-class urban motherhood. I t ...more
I liked the cinematic scope of this book and could easily see it as a Hollywood movie (with Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann as Jeff and Helen and Paul Rudd and Kristen Wiig as Paul and Claire.)

I think every working mother struggles with not having enough time for work, not having enough time to be the best mom, and not having enough time to be the best spouse. This book exemplifies some of those struggles and the way it plays out across different families. Another provocative question explored in th
Cathryn Conroy
This is an extraordinary literary work. Ten years in the writing, Mona Simpson expertly tells a story that is really nothing more than everyday life (not much of a plot, per se, but that doesn't matter at all) from the viewpoints of Claire, a 30-something wife and new mother who lives in Hollywood, contrasted from the vantage point of Lola, a Filipina nanny who takes care of Claire's son. This is the story of not only the priorities we choose, but also the sacrifices we make--and choose not to m ...more
Lisa Baggerman
I thought I'd really be drawn to this book, considering my relationship with our children's caregiver and my role as a working mom. But it just didn't draw me in. It seemed a little obvious and cloying. It also read more like a (kind of dull) memoir than fiction.
Judy Bart
Three stars might be too generous. One of my friends recommended this book, but I found it boring-a modern day version of The Help with Filipinas instead of African Americans. It was told in two voices, a young female composer, who with her tv writer husband, move to Santa Monica and employ a nanny for their son. The second voice is that of the nanny. I liked her narrative better than the American's, but either one left a lot to be desired. I think it is probably an accurate portrayal of life in ...more
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT waste your money on this book. So bad I had to stop reading it (which I rarely do). Inane plot, unlikeable characters, uncompelling story. Terrible dreck.
While reading this disjointed mess, I kept checking the cover to make sure this really was written by Mona Simpson....
Arlene Caruso
Since everyone says that this book is so much like The Help, I avoided it. I didn't like The Help but this book (which I listened to) I really enjoyed! Bhama Roget, who narrated the book, did an incredible job, especially with the voice of Filipina Lola. It was fascinating view into the lives of the folks who hire nannies and even more so, the lives of those nannies. Though I don't know if Lola's experience is typical, it felt genuine. As someone who has lived with people for the Phillipines, it ...more
Jan 18, 2013 Cary added it
Cath Greenman rec
Amanda Morgan
Raising a child is hard, however wouldn’t it be much more simple with a live-in nanny? New mother Claire still finds her life incredibly difficult even when she and her husband Paul hire Filipino nanny Lola to care for their newborn son William, in “My Hollywood.”
Told alternately through Lola’s voice and Claire’s voice, this story is about the struggle to fit in and to live the best life each woman can, raising a young child while trying to keep their respective marriages alive.
Claire, a compo
I liked this book although it goes on somewhat. It covers about five years in the life of the characters, and like life itself, can be repetitious, since it is the story of child care and the upstairs/downstairs world of wealthy entertainment-biz LA (screenwriters, directors, etc) and the hired nannies who raise the children. In this world, Filipina nannies are considered a status symbol, until the kids reach school age and the parents prefer college-educated whites who will speak grammatically ...more
Sep 10, 2010 Brooke rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
Really I'd give this novel 3 1/2 stars. For the most part I enjoyed the story line itself but the delivery was confusing and disjointed.

This novel follows Claire, a 35 year old composer with a 6 month old son William. She is married to Paul who moves his family to Los Angeles to pursue a career writing tv sitcoms. Claire is soon overwhelmed with the demands of her new-born while still trying to compose her symphony so they decide to hire a Nanny.

Enter Lola, a 52 year-old Filipina with 5 childre
I have mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the character of Lola, a Filipina woman in her 50s working as a nanny to put her children through graduate school. It explodes the idea that people working in the states in these jobs are all desperate. Lola is from a middle class family, and her family lives well - but college at the very best schools requires more money than they have, so Lola leaves her family in order to better her children's lives so they won't have to leave their homela ...more
As someone who wants to move to NYC this year to nanny, this is yet another nannying-in-a-big-city book trying to deter me from doing it - but nothing will stop me! This book followed two characters, Claire and her nanny, a fifty-something Hispanic woman named Lola. Lola has been nannying her little boy for years and when she is refused a raise she quits and moves onto another family. She always flirts with the idea of going back to her home country to her husband, grown children and grandchildr ...more
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Mona Simpson was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, then moved to Los Angeles as a young teenager. Her father was a recent immigrant from Syria and her mother was the daughter of a mink farmer and the first person in her family to attend college. Simpson went to Berkeley, where she studied poetry. She worked as a journalist before moving to New York to attend Columbia’s MFA program. During graduate sch ...more
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“Too many times I'd left him reaching for me, from a babysitter's arms. "Am I still a mother?" I asked myself... What parts of the day could I cut out and still give him enough? Paul never asked himself that. He thought he was a great dad.” 1 likes
“But would I have chosen to be Paul? I'd miss Will too much, the feel of his shins.” 0 likes
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