Review of ‘Rock N Roll Nanny’ by Sally Arnold

A bold, honest memoir from a woman who is clearly a formidable organiser and passionate about charitable work. The title and blurb of the book are perhaps a little misleading as the ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ element is maybe only half of it and the ‘nanny’ element even less.

After being trained as a Norland nurse (a prestigious kind of nanny favoured by the rich and famous), Sally took care of Jade, the baby daughter of Mick and Bianca Jagger. It was certainly a rollercoaster of an experience. She then got into managing rock bands’ tours, including The Who, The Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was awfully stressful trying to keep these ‘naughty boys’ in check and clearing up after them – Sally’s nannying skills were useful! But she did brilliantly, especially as a woman in a man’s world as it was back then. Then tragedy struck as Lynyrd Skynyrd were in a plane crash which claimed the life of her fiancé, Dean, as well as several others. Sally also narrates her later years, which included working with classical music, fundraising for charity events, setting up her own company, surviving breast cancer and travelling the world.

Generally this is a very good read and Sally is justifiably proud of her achievements. Even the things to be less proud of, such as using cocaine, are told in a matter-of-fact way. The style is straight-forward and appealing. I felt that the content could have been more selective, as quite often it seemed to skim over her action-packed life without focusing on details. There was too much name-dropping. I don’t see the point of mentioning who was at this or that event if they don’t have a role in the story. Towards the end of the book, quite a lot of letters, speeches, articles and suchlike were copied out. While they undoubtedly illustrate Sally’s impact and integrity, they were not interesting to read and I found myself skipping them.

Thank you to the publisher Silverwood for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 17th October.

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