17 January 2013

No. 44: Book One: My Hollywood

Book One: My Hollywood by Mona Simpson
No. 44: Read a book a week for a month.

(It's a novel. See? It says so right on the front of the book.)

My first book for the month was a novel.  

The basic story: Young professional couple move to Hollywood, have baby, hire Filipina nanny.

The book is written alternately from the viewpoints of the mom and the nanny.

I could relate to the mom of this book on so many levels.

The mom, Claire, may have been in Hollywood but her issues were common to any suburban enclave: her fear of losing her self as she morphs from musician to "baby slave", the ebb and flow of a marriage and how so often the dads are oblivious to the incessantness of small children, the competition of mothers, how you never know what is going on in other people's marriages. There's even a little of that "why does she stay with him?" ick factor that occurs when you get a glimpse into the "not for public view" side of a marriage. 

The other half of the book is the nanny's story. Lola comes from the Philippines, leaving her own family to earn money raising someone else's children. She deals with the intricacies of emigrating to a foreign country complete with a new language, new customs, and new lifestyle.  Having gone to school in Mexico a million years ago, I could relate to the novelty of a foreign country that slowly becomes your new normal. I got bogged down in her network of nanny friends  (there were so many different names!) but maybe that was intentional. Half of the Philippines seemed to be in Hollywood with her.

And at the end there was a nagging question. Whose Hollywood was it? Claire's? Or Lola's? 

The book was a pretty good read but not a favorite for me. 

I liked the peek into the lives of the Hollywood "rich and famous".  I also liked the peek into the lives of the "not so famous"- the nannies and housekeepers who hold the whole charade together.  Even liked the ending. 
Much of Lola's narration required trudging through. I don't want to trudge when I'm reading.  

Book One is done.

And read or write the word "novel" a few times and you realize what an odd looking word it is. Awkward.

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