May Contain Nuts, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Alice never imagined that she would end up like this.

Is she the only mother who feels so permanently panic-stricken at the terrors of the modern world - or is it normal to sit up in bed all night popping bubble wrap?

She worries that too much gluten and dairy may be hindering her children's mental arithmetic.

She frets that there are too many cars on the road to let them out of the 4x4.

Finally she resolves to take control and tackle her biggest worry of all: her daughter is definitely not going to fail that crucial secondary school entrance exam. Because Alice has decided to take the test in her place...With his trademark comic eye for detail, John O'Farrell has produced a funny and provocative book that will make you laugh, cry and vow never to become that sort of parent. And then you can pass it on to your seven-year-old, because she really ought to be reading grown-up novels by now...




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Motherhood red in tooth and claw. Children play a central role in the battle of the upper-middle-class snobs, where a place at the prestigious private school is the ultimate prize. Ambitious, neurotic, paranoid parents ferry their 11-year-olds from maths tutor to fencing lessons, insulating them in their posh streets and mammoth 4x4s from the evil influence of people who are not like us (mainly because they don't have as much money). The author's observations on the aspirational middle class are comically exaggerated, but nevertheless they have real satirical teeth. Occasionally I laughed out loud. Towards the end, the playing out of the book's moral message inevitably takes some of the edge off the humour, but there are still some delightful one-liners. If you have mentally put your toddler down for a college at Oxford or Cambridge, or regard family games mainly as a way of cramming facts into your child's head, then this is the book you need to read. MB 14-xi-2008