It was only a matter of time. Once The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin came out and Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding became popular, chick lit was in full swing. It was only natural that The Manny by Holly Peterson would be written. For those who enjoyed the shoes in Beth Harbison’s Shoe Addicts Anonymous, or designer clothes in Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada, one might enjoy this VERY light beach read. Although it is a somewhat weaker copycat, it might bring a smile or two to moms who find the summer months their biggest dread as schools close!
Jamie Whitfield is a part-time working mother of three children ranging from two to nine years old. Her job as a busy news producer as well as being part of the Manhattan Mom’s scene, with a successful attorney husband who is absent a great deal and, let’s just say, not a “hands-on helper,” has Jamie at the end of her rope. A transplanted Midwesterner, Jamie finds the adjustment to the New York scene a constant battle. With her eldest, nine-year-old Dylan, showing more and more signs of withdrawal to the point of being motionless at times, Jamie thinks a male role model would do him some good. Husband Phillip, concerned with supporting his family in the style he thinks they need and are accustomed to where his income of more than a million dollars annually just gets them by, CERTAINLY can’t give up his time to sit with Dylan and see what makes him tick. A workaholic himself, Phillip can’t imagine someone, especially his own son, having problems that would result in anything not productive. Phillip does give us a glimpse of the man Jamie fell in love with and who deep down loves his children every once in a while, but the times are too few and far between.
It is at this point, as things with Dylan get worse, that Jamie decides that a male role model rather than a nanny is the answer – and so she seeks out a “manny”. Being in this class of privileged people where buying something can surely solve anyone’s problems, Jamie is optimistic that finding the right manny will solve her problems.
Peter Bailey is 29 years old and looking for funding for his software business. Peter seems to like children and is kind and very intelligent. It also doesn’t hurt that he is also quite good-looking. That Peter is attentive to Jamie as well as appreciating and respecting her are all in Peter’s favor. Jamie hires Peter, and the “nanny of the male persuasion” starts his job.
One doesn’t have to be a genius to anticipate that Jamie and Peter will become attracted to each other. That, along with subplots concerning a hot news report Jamie is working on involving an affair of a prominent congressman, and the way the rich are living their superficial lives, moves the storyline along as would be expected. Some complications can only help add to the rather predictable plot - Will the manny be Jamie’s answer not only to Dylan but also her unfulfilling marriage? Can Jamie find happiness with a real man whether he has money or not? – but the story is ultimately rather clichéd as it explores how people in these situations can get into trouble when the wrong priorities take over their lives.