After living abroad for twelve years, Nan and her husband, Ryan, aka H.H., have returned to New York to get her new business off the ground and fix up their fixer-upper. To compound the mounting construction woes and marital chaos of Ryan announcing his sudden desire to start a family, sixteen-year-old Grayer X makes a drunken, late-night visit wanting to know why Nan abandoned him all those years ago. Soon she is drawn back into Mrs. X's ever-bizarre Upper East Side conclave of power and privilege in this "eminently readable" and "surprisingly affecting" (Entertainment Weekly) tale of what happens when a community that chooses money over love finds itself with neither.
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Reading Group Guide
Nanny Returns opens with three magazine quotes about Brooke Astor, Herman Merkin, and the Madoff family. How do these quotes about families and wealth set the scene for the novel?
- Discuss the scenes where Nan is reunited with the X family: her late-night surprise visit from Grayer, and her thank-you tea with Mrs. X. How has the X family changed in the past decade, since Mrs. X fired Nan? How has it remained the same? Why does Nan feel linked to this dysfunctional family, even after so many years away?
- Domestic spaces reveal a lot about personalities in Nanny Returns, from Harlem fixer-uppers to downtown lofts. What can you tell about each character—including Nan, Mrs. X, Carter Nelson, Citrine, and Nan’s grandmother—from the description of their homes?
- While walking through his childhood apartment, Ryan decides that he is ready to be a dad. Why does 721 Park Avenue make Ryan so sure—and Nan so unsure—about starti