One-Minute Book Reviews

June 18, 2008

Holly Peterson’s Bad Sex Scenes Are Back in the New Paperback Edition of ‘The Manny’

How bad are the sex scenes in Holly Peterson’s The Manny? Let’s just say that one begins with “Now she was on her knees …” and ends with “like a fire hose in her expensive mouth.” What if you’re tempted to buy The Manny (Dial, 368 pp., $12), anyway, now that the novel is out in paperback? Maybe you know it involves a Park Avenue mother who hires a male nanny for her 9-year-old son. And you think: With that catchy premise, how bad could it be? Here’s a sample line of dialogue: “We’re in the modern era, baby, you spoiled, Jurassic, archaic, Waspy piece of petrified wood!” (And, yes, that comes from a character we’re supposed to like.) Lines like that one earned the novel a spot on the shortlist for the 2008 Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books. You’ll find others in a review and Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guide to The Manny, published in separate posts on June 26, 2007

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Ew-w-w-w

    Thanks for the heads-up…er, I mean, warning!

    Comment by ggelliott — June 18, 2008 @ 8:22 am | Reply

  2. Thanks, GG. Holly Peterson is a real insider in the world she describes, so this book had much more potential than it delivered on.

    “The Manny” could have been the next “Nanny Diaries.” It didn’t come close, because Peterson was unwilling or unable to write about her world as objectively as the former nannies dealt with theirs.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — June 18, 2008 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  3. She has seeds of brilliance – eg calling someone a piece of petrified wood – but overdoes it. Ridiculously.

    Good catch, and I’m sure it’s not so funny in context.

    Comment by Amelia — June 18, 2008 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  4. Definitely, context matters a lot on this one. “The Manny” is a 368-page book that could have been a third shorter with no loss.

    The first 100 or so pages move so slowly that even people who normally appreciate the comic potential of bad sex scenes may quit before they get to Peterson’s.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — June 18, 2008 @ 11:22 am | Reply

  5. What a couple of howlers those lines are! Thanks for calling this book out; the Delete Key Awards are great.

    Comment by sarahsk — June 18, 2008 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  6. Thanks, Sarah. As you might imagine, slogging through hundreds of pages of lines like those is somewhat less entertaining than reading one or two of them. I have had many moments when I’ve asked myself: Why am I doing this? So I really appreciate the comments.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — June 18, 2008 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

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