Nanny wisdom goes beyond ‘Mary Poppins’
  • Tuesday, January 15, 2019
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Nanny wisdom goes beyond ‘Mary Poppins’

  • COURTESY PHOTO

    Author P.L. Travers published six Mary Poppins books, and Lawson is determined to tell her story. She’s an intrepid guide to a surprisingly difficult topic: Travers was extremely private and her personal life, though fascinating, was confusing.

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“Mary Poppins Returns” opened last month, and given its cast — British actress Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” musical fame — it’s likely catnip for many theatergoers, just as the original Disney movie staring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke was more than 50 years ago.

Whether you’re still waiting to see the film, or if you’ve already seen it, here are some books for adult fans that may strike your fancy.

“My Hollywood”

by Mona Simpson

In contemporary literature, at least, nannies and existential dread go together like peanut butter and jelly. Simpson’s novel is about Claire, a new mother who convinces herself that she’s unfit for motherhood and hires a nanny. But eventually she starts to worry that the nanny isn’t up to the job, either.

“Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers”

by Valerie Lawson

Author P.L. Travers published six Mary Poppins books, and Lawson is determined to tell her story. She’s an intrepid guide to a surprisingly difficult topic: Travers was extremely private and her personal life, though fascinating, was confusing.

“A Gate at the Stairs”

by Lorrie Moore

Set in a Midwestern college town in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, this novel by the always absorbing Moore introduces Tassie Keltjin, a student who “finds work as the nanny-in-waiting for a brainy couple awkwardly on the verge of adoption.”

“Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary”

by Anita Anand

In the 1964 “Mary Poppins,” the suffrage movement as embraced by Mrs. Banks provided comic relief, but in Anand’s biography of Sophia Duleep Singh, suffragists deserve — and get — serious attention. A Punjabi princess and Queen Victoria’s goddaughter, Sophia becomes “a celebrated London fashion plate and then a steely suffragist.”

“The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattels, Changelings”

by David F. Lancey

You don’t need a Mary Poppins to raise your children — what you need is this book, which will remind you that “children are raised in all sorts of ways, and they all turn out just fine.”

“The Nanny Diaries”

by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

A parent’s worst nightmare: The nanny has been taking notes on how you treat your child and, let’s just say, it’s not pretty. But the stories are hilarious, though probably awkward for some to read. When this book was published in 2002 it caused quite an uproar in certain Manhattan circles.

“The Perfect Nanny”

by Leila Slimani

Ripped from the headlines, a nanny snaps and kills the children. But this is more than a psychological thriller, it is an “intimate analysis of the special relationship between a mother and a nanny.” “The Perfect Nanny” is one of The New York Times’ 10 Best Books of 2018.

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