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June 11, 2011 1:27 am

My Hollywood

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My Hollywood, by Mona Simpson, Corsair RRP£11.99, 384 pages

 

While comedy writer Rob burns the midnight oil at an LA studio, his composer wife Claire half-heartedly devolves care of their son William to Lola, the Filipina nanny.

Alternating between Lola and Claire’s stories, Mona Simpson’s first novel for 10 years is a descent into the paradoxes faced by working parents. When Claire takes Lola on a work trip to New York, the nanny makes more than her employer. Lola is puzzled: why bother? Yet her own motives for working are just as muddy: offered a chance to earn more with another family, she refuses, reluctant to abandon her beloved “Williamo”.

Simpson’s exhilarating if occasionally tangled book portrays a world in which love and money are traded as currencies, but nobody seems to know the exchange rate. If we sympathise with big-hearted – and beautifully drawn – Lola, rather than whiny Claire, that’s only natural. But perhaps the two women, both pursuing versions of the American dream, have more in common than they think.

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