Reflecting on her 62 years as a nanny, Ashford presents a delightful compilation of memories, child care tips and insights from a radically different time and place.
Contemporary mothers will discover the trove of practical advice just as useful today as it was in 20th-century England. At the age of 92, she has been heralded as Britain’s longest-serving nanny. Ashford began her “nanny boot camp” training at the prestigious Norland Institute in 1939. “I never dreamed when I graduated from the Norland Institute at eighteen that I’d still be looking after babies when I was eighty!” writes the author. Ashford’s career included caring for children of aristocrats, working in a war nursery, caring for a rather shifty family with dubious associates and working at a “sprawling family farmhouse…set in acres of beautiful grounds.” Ashford ably weaves together her personal observations on social and cultural changes and her child care stories. “As we entered the 1950s a nanny in a uniform seemed strangely outdated,” she writes. “Society was changing, and I had to be seen to be changing with it.” The author never married, but rather devoted her life to creating the happiest homes she could for her families. For a decade, Ashford was what she called a “troubleshooting nanny,” moving from house to house, helping new mothers get back on their feet and establishing a stable routine for the household. At 80, she came out of retirement, helping a young mother who had once been one of her charges with her two children.
Ashford recounts a life filled with love, devotion and hard work—a snapping good story by a true British treasure.