‘Everything and Nothing’ is a ‘Hand that Rocks the Cradle’ plot. An efficient nanny joins the chaotic household of Ruth and Christian, to take care of Betty and Hal. Betty doesn’t sleep and Hal doesn’t eat, but Agatha manages to resolve these issues within weeks of arriving. She brings order to the household and gradually makes herself indispensable. Her employers, facing their own personal demons, take scant interest in their new helper, until her behaviour starts to cause concern – just who have they allowed into their family?
Now at this point I do not have to confess that I have never written a published novel, nor am I likely to. That fact alone should probably convince me to proceed with caution when criticising others’ efforts. But in this case, I just can’t resist quoting what must be amongst the clumsiest descriptive writing I have ever come across:
‘She felt as see-through and inconsequential as a lace nightdress’
‘He felt as insubstantial as an evaporating puddle on the floor of a forest’
Although the plot moves along smoothly, this book lacks dynamism. It felt flat and predictable with few surprises. All of the characters were clichéd; Ruth, working mother wracked with guilt, Christian, misunderstood husband engaged in an extra-marital affair, Agatha the psychopathic nanny.
I think a better title for this book might have been ‘Something and Nothing’.