A Perfect Nanny

By Leïla Slimani


After reading Adele, a great book which I highly recommend, I decided to read previous works by Leïla . She knows how to play on the latent fears and desires mothers have, and that makes reading her books exciting.

The story begins with Leila painting a working mother's perfect day with high hopes of making it home to see her children with treats in hand. Spoiler alert the children are dead. We know they were under the care of the nanny, and that's about all we know. 

The subsequent chapters bring us back to the beginning of their story. A family of three, then four. How a once promising talent,Myriam, had to sacrifice her career in law to raise her children, and lost her sense of self. 

Itching to get back into the work force Myraim and her husband agree returning to work would be the best option. So Myriam starts asking stay-at home moms in her well to do neighborhood to refer her to a reputable nanny.

Louise the perfect nanny, comes highly recommended. She is known for her ability to properly discipline children while maintaining and impenetrable bond with them. She can keep house better than anyone in town. Louise has been indispensable to her employers, only leaving when she decided to move on. Myriam takes the bait. Once hired, Louise wins over Myriam's entire family in no time. The children love her, and the parents finally have their lives back. 

Louise, however, comes with baggage, and is too good to be true. She carries the weight of her past with her. It manifests slowly, but in due time we begin to see it clearly. Louise has a sinister way of re-establishing her dominance. She assumes a 'nanny knows best' position at all times. Through indirect assertiveness she forces her new family to become familiar with the values she holds dear. The themes of poverty add that grime I'm beginning to associate with Leila's writing. The juxtaposition between such a neat and prim woman with some of the places described in this book really bring her character to life. Louise is strange. The Perfect Nanny ended in a way I didn't see coming, though I knew the outcome from the start. It's a quick read that fans of Leïla Slimani will appreciate.

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