What the Nanny Saw

When penniless student Ali Sparrow answers Bryony and Nick Skinner’s advertisement her life changes overnight.

She is catapulted into the privileged and excessive world of London’s financial elite. At first everything is overwhelming – from twins who speak their own language to a teenage girl with weight issues, and a son almost Ali’s own age. Then there is Bryony, who has one eye on her dazzling career and the other on Ali’s failings.

When boom turns to bust and a scandal erupts that suggests something corrupt has been hatched behind the Skinners’ front door, their private life is suddenly public news. And as Ali becomes indispensable, she realises she’s witness to things she probably shouldn’t see.

But is she principled enough to keep the family’s secrets when the press come prowling for the inside scoop? Or will she dish the dirt on the family who never saw her as anything other than part of the scenery.

What the Nanny Saw is Fiona Neill third novel and her first for Penguin UK. The US edition is published by Riverhead and the German edition by A W Bruna.

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What the Nanny Saw


"Neill's characters are so cleverly depicted, you feel as if you've met at least one of them before."


"Packed with observations of wince-making accuracy... Superb entertainment."

The Times

"So well-written, with such believable and engaging characters, it was an absolute joy to read."

Daily Mail

"There have been many books set during the financial downturn, from stories about formerly wealthy women forced to start over to families grasping to make ends meet. What the Nanny Saw is a unique look at this difficult period as seen through the eyes of a nanny to an incredibly wealthy family living in London. Fiona Neill’s sharp wit and realistic characters make this book a must-read."

She Knows

"eminently readable and entertaining...What the Nanny Saw" takes an assured look at the high price of wealth and privilege. Neill's trenchant observations of the ways of the newly-minted super-wealthy are both comic and unexpectedly poignant."


"Neill mixes delicious high-roller tidbits with well-rendered characters who illustrate why - and how- the rich are different."

People Magazine

"London columnist and bestselling author Neill concocts a darkly fascination portrait of the stupid-rich, and the morally superior immigrant maids they press into service. In this fast-paced, dishy morality tale, Neill also delivers a thoughtful dissection of how greed and hubris helped bring the banking industry to its knees in 2008."

Publishers Weekly

"This biting drama is filled with tension and remarkably flawed characters. Neill’s engrossing tale makes for an addictive read, and one can only keep turning the pages to get to the inescapable conclusion."

Library Journal

"...her portrayal of the family is happily addictive and their greed-driven downfall a little bit delicious."

Kirkus Reviews

"In this ripped-from-the-headlines novel, Neill, a former journalist, uses the recent economic meltdown as fodder for skewering Britain’s privileged financial class. Ali Sparrow, a college student taking a break from her studies, enters this unfamiliar echelon as a nanny for the Skinner family. The adults, Nick and Bryony, are typically career-obsessed and high strung; the four children suffer from a toxic mix of parental inattention and lofty expectations. Circling around the edges is Bryony’s politically incorrect father, Foy, who dominates every scene he inhabits through sheer force of personality and his outlandish proclamations. They’re all highly entertaining in a “they did not just say that” train-wreck kind of way. Ali, who begins her tenure as an arched-eyebrow observer, gradually grows to care for the Skinners, whose hubris masks untold insecurities. When their downfall comes, as a result of Nick’s shady financial dealings, it feels vaguely bittersweet. Readers expecting a salacious, lighthearted romp, as anything with the word “nanny” in the title might suggest, will find that Neill has something more substantive and biting in mind."