Popsugar Reading Challenge: Book 42

Prompt: A book with “pop”, “sugar” or “challenge” in the title.

I didn’t really have a plan for this category – I figured I would end up reading a cosy, bakery/cafe romance filled with sugar and cupcakes. Browsing through hthe second hand book section of our local Dogs Trust rehoming centre I spotted A Spoonful of Sugar by Brenda Ashford on the shelves. It sounded interesting and ticked off a troublesome prompt so I decided to go for it. The money went to a good cause too!

What’s it about?

Brenda Ashford is a real-life Mary Poppins. She trained as a Norland Nanny in 1939 and spent over sixty years looking after other people’s children.

The book focuses of Brenda’s early life at home, her training at the Norland Institute and her early career as a nanny throughout the Second World War.

What I think:

This book was fascinating and charming in equal measure. Brenda is witty and engaging and has a lovely, light self-deprecating humour. She combines anecdotes from her own life with factual information about the social and historical context of the era.

The training Brenda and her fellow nanny’s receive at Norland is so thorough and the matrons are absolutely terrifying. It gives a fascinating insight into the opportunities available for women at the time.

Nanny Brenda’s work during the war was both rewarding and heartbreaking. She highlights the poverty and neglect that some of the children experienced, and the positive difference that love and care can have on children.

Brenda remains unjudgemental even when adults make some quite shocking decisions. The only time this changes is when a rich family she is working for gives up a child they had previously adopted.

Brenda’s own love life is not as successful as her career and she ultimately fails to find marriage. She doesn’t fail to have love in her life though as it is clear that she adores the children she care for and is adored in return.

The Norland nanny motto is “Love Never Faileth” and Brenda is the absolute embodiment of that. An interesting and thoroughly enjoyable read.

To read about Brenda’s adventures yourself, head to:

Waterstone’s: click here

Amazon.co.uk: click here

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