The Devil doesn’t always wear Prada. Sometimes it’s dresses with Peter Pan collar.
The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani
Genres: Thriller, Contemporary
Published: 9th January, 2018
The baby is dead. It only took few seconds.
With a tagline like that, you just know this book is going to be intense. Even though you know the who and most details of the how, it’s the question of why that will make you stick with the story about the perfect nanny.
What unfolds between Myriam, Paul and their nanny, Louise is one of those slow burns with a constant tension simmering just under the surface. Although I don’t have children, it never stopped me from imagining all the things that could possibly go wrong if I were to become a mum. There’s nothing in Leïla Slimani’s book that is overly direct or right in your face, and yet, it somehow resonated with all my fears. Back in the day when I was still seeing him, my therapist would have had a field day with all the crap I came up with after I finished this book if. All those subtle hints and little nuances that went on was just utterly chilling.
Myriam and Paul seem to be getting along just fine, but as soon as the nanny enters, all sorts of problems arise, from mom-guilt over feeling the need to go back to work, or wanting to have time away from the children, to not being able to see eye to eye with your partner about boundaries or priorities. Throughout this Louise is always there, always helpful, soon an almost invisible, but vitally important part of everyone’s life. Sure, it’s nice if your nanny stays late every day voluntarily, but where does it end? At what point does this become an exploit of someone’s kindness? Is it kindness, or does she have some hidden motive?
The mystery surrounding the nanny is the backbone of the story, but what drives the plot forward are the heightened emotions that arise from the family’s new arrangement. The nanny is so great! So why does Myriam feel bad for leaving the children with her? In spite of all the secrets, this is not a whodunit. There aren’t twists and turns in the story that will keep you guessing, the writing is almost simplistic, and yet I couldn’t help but read this story in one sitting. The raw honesty and the emotions laid bare in front of me made The Perfect nanny an absolutely fascinating read. After the graphic and violent details in the first chapter the rest seems almost like nothing happens. There are some dropped hints that all point towards something sinister, and yet, at the end of it, I was left with more questions than answers. Nothing was as clear cut as it seemed. But that’s just how life is. Sometimes no matter how you twist the story, how much you know, some questions are just never answered.
A beautifully written, haunting story about motherhood, society’s pressure on women, and the constant inner battle we all feel sometimes, that little nagging feeling that no matter what we do, we are just not good enough.
P.S. For us UK people this is called Lullaby… Still creepy. Just sayin’…