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My Hollywood

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3.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,270 Ratings  ·  277 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
...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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Best Books of 2010
400th out of 1,325 books — 2,428 voters
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27th out of 174 books — 39 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,928)
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Ruth
May 21, 2013 Ruth rated it did not like it
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
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Susan
Sep 27, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
christa
Oct 09, 2010 christa rated it liked it
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
...more
Shelley
Jan 01, 2015 Shelley rated it did not like it

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
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Rebecca
Oct 05, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Shelves: chicklit
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
Jennifer
Oct 07, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
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
Agatha
Oct 26, 2010 Agatha rated it did not like it
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
Mar 28, 2012 Karen Skinner rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer
Feb 20, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
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
Aug 15, 2011 Jennifer Rayment rated it it was ok
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
...more
Lauren
Oct 12, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 29, 2010 Alex Templeton rated it liked it
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
Jill
Apr 12, 2012 Jill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
************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
...more
Marisa
Dec 04, 2010 Marisa rated it did not like it
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
Evon
Feb 21, 2015 Evon rated it it was ok
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
Arlene Caruso
May 13, 2014 Arlene Caruso rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Rose
Jan 17, 2016 Rose rated it it was ok
I think this was a very well-written book, but I had a hard time relating to the characters or their situation. I want to read others by this author, though, as many friends whose opinions I respect laud her work.
Clarice Stasz
Jan 16, 2015 Clarice Stasz rated it liked it
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
Jul 23, 2014 Frances Coles rated it really liked it
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
Abby
Jun 16, 2014 Abby rated it really liked it
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
...more
Cathryn Conroy
Oct 21, 2014 Cathryn Conroy rated it it was amazing
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 Hazen
Aug 11, 2010 Lisa Hazen rated it it was ok
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
Jul 31, 2015 Judy Bart rated it liked it
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
Nancy
Aug 22, 2010 Nancy rated it did not like it
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.
Janet
While reading this disjointed mess, I kept checking the cover to make sure this really was written by Mona Simpson....
Alexa
Nov 10, 2015 Alexa rated it it was amazing
Absolutely! one of the best books I've read in a verrrry long time. This book was , you can tell, very well written , researched thoroughly and executed brilliantly. I'm dumbfounded that this got past my radar. Out of all the duds I've had to read on this site, this is not one of them. It spoke of the veracity of life and humanity. I never expected this to become an absolute favorite novel I have read since The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm a little surprised this didn't win any na ...more
Anne
Jul 25, 2016 Anne rated it it was ok
"My Hollywood" is not the best choice of books to be introduced to Mona Simpson. The first-half is disappointingly predictable and unimaginative as it sets up the quandary of a talented composer/cellist trying to juggle work and motherhood and an absent husband and the nanny she hires. The best sections are written from the point-of-view of Lola, the Nanny. Her observations and experiences kick into gear about half-way through. Lola gives us an insightful and sensitive account of the life of nan ...more
Lana.
Jun 29, 2016 Lana. rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lana. by: This American Life episode 157 "Secret Life of Daytime"
4.5

Caught me just at the right time.

Claire is a new mother struggling: raising a newborn, husband starting at new career, own career on hold... Lola is a middle-aged Philipina nanny supporting her kids through university back home. These two complex women take turns narrating their intersecting lives in Santa Monica, CA ("Hollywood"), and reveal some hard truths about love, raising children, employer/employee and family relationships, and various culture-clashes.

Claire's early experiences rin
...more
Cary
Jan 18, 2013 Cary added it
Cath Greenman rec
Amanda Morgan
Jun 25, 2014 Amanda Morgan rated it liked it
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
...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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