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The Mannyby Holly Peterson
Reading Group Guide
With a keen eye and biting wit, in The Manny Holly Peterson tells the story of Jamie Whitfield, a Midwestern transplant who lives on Manhattan’s super-wealthy Upper East Side with her high-powered husband and their three children. Phillip, a lawyer, is rarely home, and Jamie’s oldest son is struggling with his father’s absences. With no other options for providing Dylan with the father figure he needs, Jamie hires Peter Bailey: a male nanny, or in the parlance of Park Avenue, a “manny.” Cool, competent, and compassionate, Peter has everything Dylan is looking for in a dad–as well as everything Jamie wants in a man. But as Phillip becomes more unpredictable and secretive, and with a major crisis looming at work, the last thing Jamie needs is to fall for the manny. Or is it?
Tina Brown calls The Manny “the funniest, sexiest ride in the limo lane since The Bonfire of the Vanities,” and this rollicking satire of manners, money, and mannies offers wicked laughs on every page, as well as plenty of topics ripe for discussion. The questions below are intended to assist your reading group’s dialogue about The Manny.
1. Prior to reading this book, had you ever heard of “mannies?” Do you think it makes a difference whether a child’s caregiver is male or female?
2. What was your opinion of Jamie at the beginning of the book? Did it change as the novel progressed?
3. What did you think of Jamie’s decision to hire Peter to help Dylan? Was Phillip’s negative attitude toward Peter justified?
4. Money plays an important–although divisive–role in many of the relationships in the book. What is Jamie’s attitude toward money? How does it differ from Phillip’s?
5. The novel opens a window into the lives of the über-rich of New York City’s Upper East Side. What did you learn about this subculture? Do you think that the book could have taken place in another locale? If so, where, and why?
6. “Just when I was convinced Phillip was a real monster, he would do something that would make me think that maybe I still could love him,” (page 17). What did you think of Phillip? Why do you think Jamie stayed with him as long as she did?
7. Were you surprised at Peter’s encounter with Ingrid in the linen closet? Did you realize it was him at first?
8. At Belvedere Castle, when Peter tries to tell Jamie he doesn’t believe Theresa Boudreaux’s story, why doesn’t Jamie listen?
9. At several points, Jamie admits that she’s intimidated by commanding men. Why? Does she finally get over her fear? How?
10. “I don’t buy that overused line about a woman’s job making her a better mother,” (page 100). What do you think is behind Phillip’s contempt for Jamie’s job? Why is her career a source of strife between them?
11. “I’m still trying to figure out if parents who are civil to each other, but not in love, are better than a separation,” (page 108). What do you think of this statement of Jamie’s? For the sake of their children, should an unhappy couple break up, or to try and fix their problems?
12. Why didn’t Jamie leave Phillip, especially after she caught him with Susannah? What would you do in her situation?
13. “You go crazy when I suggest you’re one of them….But then you play into it all,” (page 161). Is there truth to Peter’s assessment of Jamie?
14. Why do you think Jamie and her colleagues were so quick to believe Theresa Boudreaux's story? As members of the media, do you think they should have been more skeptical of her credibility, as well as wary of attempts by bloggers to make the mainstream media look bad? Do you think Jamie was the only person who deserved to lose her job when Theresa's deception was discovered?
15. What did you think of the book’s ending?
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