The perfect nanny A novel

Leïla Slimani, 1981-

Book - 2018

"When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealous...y, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. Building tension with every page, The Perfect Nanny is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, and motherhood--and the American debut of an immensely talented writer"--

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Subjects
Genres
Domestic fiction
Published
New York : Penguin Books [2018]
Language
English
French
Physical Description
228 pages ; 20 cm
ISBN
9780143132172
0143132172
Main Author
Leïla Slimani, 1981- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Winner of France's prestigious Prix Goncourt, Moroccan French author Slimani's first book to be published in the U.S is a devastating, entrancing, literary psychological drama supported by absorbing character studies. Readers first step into a veritable crime scene: a baby and his toddler sister are dead, or soon to be, in an apartment in Paris' tenth arrondissement. Their blissfully unaware mother, Myriam, meanwhile leaves work early, for a change, to surprise them. Then Slimani takes us back to the true beginning, to learn how happy Myriam was to escape the monotony of stay-at-home parenting after the birth of her second child and how impressed she and her husband, Paul, were by the nanny, Louise, who arrives highly recommended and whom the children immediately adore. Slimani's skills are many, and her novel is fabulously translated by Taylor. Myriam and Paul's constant nagging fears for their children are mundane, relatable, and gut-wrenching, given the end readers already know. As Louise's dark past, emotional stuntedness, and heinous volatility emerge through cracks in her meticulous, porcelain exterior, readers won't be able to look away. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

This spare domestic thriller, the first book by a Moroccan-born woman to win the Prix Goncourt, starts out innocuously enough with French Moroccan lawyer Myriam struggling with two young children and ashamed of being a stay-at-home mom. When she decides to return to work, she and husband Paul interview a number of unsuitable candidates as nanny until coming upon the supercompetent, highly recommended Louise, whose delicate blonde looks belie her powerhouse capabilities. At first, Louise does her job with gusto, truly taking to the children; Myriam and Paul are relieved, though Myriam feels a bit edged out as mother. But as family and nanny become more entwined, with the family even inviting Louise on vacation, resentments grow on both sides. Louise becomes increasingly sullen, and a sudden act of violence shocks the narrative to life, even as we learn Louise's unfortunate backstory. VERDICT What initially feels like routine, unremarkable women's fiction morphs into a darkly propulsive nail-biter overlain with a vivid and piercing study of class tensions. For most readers. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Slimani received France's Goncourt Prize for this unsettling tale of a nanny who insinuates herself into every aspect of her employers' lives, with tragic results. When Parisian housewife Myriam Massé accepts a job as a lawyer, she and her husband, Paul, hire Louise, an unassuming, doll-like woman in her 40s, to watch their two children. Initially enamored of Louise's quiet competence, delicious cooking, and constant availability, Myriam and Paul eventually find her dominating their lives in unwelcome ways. As they steel themselves for a confrontation, Louise preempts them in a shocking act of violence. Slimani expertly probes Myriam's guilt at leaving her children with a stranger and the secret economy of nannies in Paris's tony professional districts. Taylor's spare, understated translation underscores the quiet desperation, economic struggles, and crushing loneliness that build to Louise's final act. Those seeking a thought-provoking character study will appreciate this gripping anatomy of a crime. (Jan.) Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A U.S. release of an award-winning best-seller from Morocco follows the relationship between a working French-Moroccan couple and their too-good-to-be-true nanny, whose devotion to their children spirals into a psychologically charged cycle of jealousies, resentments and violence. Original.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. Building tension with every page, The Perfect Nanny is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, and motherhood--and the American debut of an immensely talented writer"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

After a French couple finds a too-good-to-be-true nanny to care for their two children, the relationship between the couple and the nanny soon becomes full of jealousy, resentment, and suspicion.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

For fans of The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante and the Netflix movie adaptation directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal and starring Olivia ColmanOne of the 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR of The New York Times Book ReviewThe #1 international bestseller by the author of Adèle, Sex and Lies, and In the Country of Others“A great novel . . . Incredibly engaging and disturbing . . . Slimani has us in her thrall.” —Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger“One of the most important books of the year. You can’t unread it.” —Barrie Hardymon, NPR’s Weekend EditionShe has the keys to their apartment. She knows everything. She has embedded herself so deeply in their lives that it now seems impossible to remove her. When Myriam decides to return to work as a lawyer after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their son and daughter. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic Paris apartment, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. Building tension with every page, The Perfect Nanny is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, motherhood, and madness—and the American debut of an immensely talented writer.