Books: Helen's Year of Living Famously; HELEN CROSS the Secret She Keeps (Bloomsbury, Pounds 9.99 AUTHOR'S LIFE AS A NEW YORK NANNY

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), April 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Books: Helen's Year of Living Famously; HELEN CROSS the Secret She Keeps (Bloomsbury, Pounds 9.99 AUTHOR'S LIFE AS A NEW YORK NANNY


Byline: LORNE JACKSON

THERE is nothing better than being young.

That's not strictly true. There is one thing better than being young - that's being young, living opposite Central Park in New York, and driving an exceedingly fast car.

That was the situation Birmingham author Helen Cross found herself in a few years back.

``I was just a teenager and I had only been driving six months,'' she giggles. ``Here I was zipping about in a sports car. Incredible, really. But very nice.''

Before you start hating Helen too much, it should be pointed out that the little zipper-abouter didn't belong to her.

Helen was working as a nanny in the Big Apple. The car, the apartment and the lifestyle all belonged to her employers.

But that didn't stop her having an incredible time for one whole year of her life.

``There was a real nanny community out there,'' says the writer, whogrewup in Yorkshire, but now lives in Moseley. ``That meant lots of partying, drinking and going out and meeting people.

``I saw the whole thing as a big holiday. ``Living in somebody else's household was interesting as well. I got to know the inner workings of the marriage, all the secrets, even though I was essentially a stranger.''

Not only did Helen enjoy taking a mighty crunch out of the Big Apple, but her visit to NYC helped inspire her most recent novel, The Secret She Keeps.

The book reflects on the distorting nature of celebrity, as well as analysing the public's attitude towards the famous and their fickle follies.

Misty Moore is a 38 year-old model, singer, actress and very rich young woman, indeed. She has also just become a mother - and requires a nanny.

Enter John Parks, the novel's 19 yearold narrator.

Desirous of seclusion, Misty takes nanny John and baby to live in a remote Yorkshire mansion. Under this Gothic backdrop, John becomes a first-hand witness to Misty's lavish lifestyle. …

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