Synopses & Reviews
What's a Park Avenue working mom to do when her troubled son desperately needs a male role model and her husband is a power workaholic? If she's like the gutsy heroine of Holly Peterson's astute new comedy of manners among the ill-mannered elite, she does what every other woman on the block does. She hires herself a "manny."
A solid middle-class girl from Middle America, Jamie Whitfield isn't "one of them" but she lives in "the Grid," the wealthiest acre of real estate in Manhattan, where big money and big media collide. And she has most everything they have a big new apartment, full-time help with her three children, as well as her very own detached Master of the Universe attorney husband. What she doesn't have, however, is a full-time father figure for their struggling nine-year-old son, Dylan. But the rich haven't yet encountered a problem they can't hire someone else to solve.
Enter the manny.
At first the idea of paying a man to provide a role model for Dylan sounds too crazy to be true. But one look at Peter Bailey is enough to convince Jamie that the idea may not be quite so insane after all. Peter is calm, cool, competent, and so charmingly down-to-earth, he's irresistible. And with the political sex scandal of the decade propelling her career as a news producer into overdrive, and her increasingly erratic husband locked in his study with suspicious files, Jamie is in serious need of some grounding.
Peter reminds her of everything she once was, still misses, and underneath all the high-society glitz, still is. But will the new manny in her life put the groundback beneath her feet, or sweep her off them?
"Jamie Whitfield, 36, lives on Park Avenue with her three children and her mostly absent high-powered attorney husband, Phillip, and works part-time as a producer for a prime-time news program. She hires Peter Bailey 29 and biding his time until he get funding for his software business to plug the household's gaps and be a father figure to nine-year-old Dylan. The two, of course, are attracted to each other, and when Peter's money comes through, he doesn't tell Jamie. Phillip's temper tantrums when lacking pulpless orange juice or a wooden-handled umbrella are surprisingly funny, and a subplot where Jamie chases a trashy but potentially career-making story is strong. Jamie's co-workers are more realistically portrayed than her shallow friends, but even Jamie's children come alive when they root for mom's success. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Brisk, crisp, knowing and fun." Christopher Buckley, author of Thank You for Smoking
"Holly Peterson writes about the rich with acute understanding and a drop-dead eye for detail. The funniest, sexiest ride in the limo lane since The Bonfire of the Vanities." Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles
"Money, Manners, Mannys: Holly Peterson's debut is a fabulously sharp skewering of the silly-rich in New York. Observing a Park Avenue Working Mom falling for The Help had me both touched and tormented with laughter. I couldn't put it down. We should ALL get a Manny right now." Plum Sykes, author of Bergdorf Blondes
"I leapt on The Manny and devoured it in one sitting. It's a riveting portrait of millionaires' life on 'The Grid', full of eye-watering details. And it made me instantly want to hire a male nanny...for me!" Sophie Kinsella, author of Shopaholic & Baby
"Holly Peterson takes us on a locomotive tour through the living rooms of the Upper East Side and the newsrooms of the media elite. The trip is sexy, hilarious, and heart-wrenching." Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City
"Fortunately, there's more substance to the novel than just a rehash of The Nanny Diaries: Y Chromosome Edition....My summer recommendation: Take The Manny to the beach." USA Today
"In Peterson's fast-paced debut novel, no topic is taboo, from the working world to preschoolers' birthday parties, from high fashion to sex. The dialog is quick and witty." Library Journal
About the Author
Holly Peterson spent a decade as an Emmy award-winning producer at ABC News. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Harper's Bazaar, Talk, and Newsweek, where she is now a contributing editor. She lives in New York City with her family and is working on her next novel.
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?