The Perfect NannyThe Perfect Nanny
Author: Leila Slimani
Publisher: Penguin Books
First Published: January 9, 2018
Genres: Domestic Thriller, Horror, Psychological
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

three-stars
Synopsis:

She 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, 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.


My Thoughts

I really struggled to put my thoughts together on this book, partially because The Perfect Nanny was not what I had expected and one of the more unique stories I’ve ever read. I feel that it is mismarketed as a mystery thriller when it was neither, to me this is a horror novel through and through. I think I would have liked this book better if I had known this beforehand.

The plot is slow and very intense as a portrait of Louise is formed from the point of view of other characters and their interactions with her. It occurred to me after a time that the shifting narration was important, because it presents the story of the “perfect nanny” almost like a ghost story, a witness statement to the police about the perpetrator.

“She gave the baby a bath and thought to herself that this happiness–this simple, silent, prisonlike happiness–was not enough to console her.”

The prose is taut and very precise, creating an uncomfortable, almost suffocating atmosphere for the reader. This is definitely an introspective novel, with a lot of commentary on the roles of women as caregivers and French society. It’s an interesting character study and I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially after I took some time to let the story sink in. If you’re looking for a traditional mystery with a cause and exciting climax you’ll find yourself disappointed.

Also a bit of trivia, but I found out after I had finished the book that the story is loosely based on a real tragedy that happened back in 2012. Just knowing this little bit of information makes the story that much more chilling.


About Leila Slimani

Leïla Slimani is a French writer and journalist of Moroccan ancestry. In 2016 she was awarded the Prix Goncourt for her novel Chanson douce.

Slimani was born in Rabat, Morocco and studied later political science and media studies in Paris. After that she temporarily considered a career as an actress and began to work as a journalist for the magazine Jeune Afrique. In 2014 she published her first novel Dans le jardin de l’ogre, which two years later was followed by the psychological thriller Chanson douce. The latter quickly turned into a bestseller with over 450,000 copies printed within a year even before the book was awarded the Prix Goncourt.

Written by

Jamie

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.