Letters from a Literary Household

Love, Nina

55 Gloucester Crescent
London NW1

September 1982

Dear Vic,
It’s fantastic here, the house, the street, London.

The big, and possibly surprising, literary hit of Christmas 2013 was Love, Nina – a one-sided conversation relayed through letters depicting the trials and tribulations of nannying in 1980s London. Why was it such a hit? That’s easy. Nina Stibbes and her observational, true-to-life and matter-of-fact humour!

To live your life in the world of Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books, her two remarkably astute young sons, and their many literary neighbours (most notably Alan Bennett, who comes for tea most evenings and is often found fixing things) is to live in a world where great written material derives. Each letter to her sister Victoria is a small but beautifully formed window into the domestic life of Gloucester Crescent, written with a keen eye and a razor-sharp wit.

In a world where we carefully select how we are portrayed on social media channels and stringently edit our online personas, Love, Nina is a wonderful hark back to a time where pen to paper gives a permanent and fixed impression of events at one single time. You come to know 20-year old Nina Stibbe as she was then, read her unedited opinions as given to her close sibling and enter into the world as she sees it. Will this book save your life or change your perspective? Well no, but it’s not supposed to! What it will do is lift your spirits, offer up the occasional chuckle and stave off the January blues in abundance.

4 star

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