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The Perfect Nanny: A Novel by Leïla Slimani

The Perfect Nanny: A Novel

by Leïla Slimani

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0427013,439 (3.43)69
"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"--… (more)

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» See also 69 mentions

English (56)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (71)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
HELL yeah. I ate this book up. Spoiler: she is NOT the perfect nanny!!! ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
I think Jessa Crispin nailed this one: https://thebaffler.com/latest/nanny-state-of-mind-crispin

This is the least interesting interpretation of the killer-nanny story that I can imagine. The Gone Girl comparisons are funny because I think this is a reverse-Gone-Girl: where Gillian Flynn tricked us into empathizing with a straight-up psychopath, Slimani drained all the life and nuance out of a real-world villain. This book did the opposite of what art should do. ( )
  jostie13 | May 14, 2020 |
A dark novel about a deeply disturbed nanny. It is a well told, disturbing tale of an immigrant from Morocco to France, who has suffered deeply, yet to me, seems like a psychopath. I think the author wants her to be a sympathetic character, but her behavior goes beyond being a bitter, suffering person. If the author meant to paint a despairing picture of life as an immigrant, she did. Nonetheless, I think the nanny is only representative of anyone who is seriously psychologically disturbed. ( )
  hemlokgang | May 13, 2020 |
This book lays all bare from the very first paragraph:

The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds. The doctor said he didn’t suffer. The broken body, surrounded by toys, was put inside a grey bag, which they zipped shut. The little girl was still alive when the ambulance arrived. She’d fought like a wild animal. They found signs of a struggle, bits of skin under her soft fingernails. On the way to the hospital she was agitated, her body shaken by convulsions. Eyes bulging, she seemed to be gasping for air. Her throat was filled with blood. Her lungs had been punctured, her head smashed violently against the blue chest of drawers.

Having said that, it rolls on quite indifferently from a time before that occurs.

Louise is hired as nanny in a nuclear family of four where she cooks, mends clothes, and rears kids. She's impeccable.

Naturally, there are changes that affect the impeccability, but I won't go into that as it would beast upon this short book. Even though the book—to myself—bears some hallmarks of needing some editing, I really enjoyed its curtness, the "French" way of simply curtailing emotional stuff that's not significant in terms of plot; reading this book was like watching Olivier Assayas's perfect film "Summer Hours", where a bunch of people do stuff seemingly without "meaning" in the Hollywoodesque sense of the word; even though the punchline of this book is seemingly published at its very start, it's not: is life about goals or the journey?

There's a lot to be said for how well written the book is at times. Simple and short sentences strengthen it:

Paul serves the wine, and the conversations soon rise high above such earthly considerations as food. They speak louder and louder. They stub out their cigarettes in their plates and the butts float in puddles of sauce. No one has noticed that Louise has withdrawn to the kitchen, which she is energetically cleaning.

The rhythm of the book is not very complex, but why should it be? It's akin to reading Kurt Vonnegut or Amelia Grey, whose stories often rely on being quite curt, and still emotional due to being human.

This is a short, but not really memorable book; there's a spectral and haunting undertone that seeps through the book, adding a horrific taint throughout, but I didn't feel it to be enough. Still, I'll definitely read more by this author. ( )
  pivic | Mar 21, 2020 |
2.5 ( )
  Layla.Natasha | Nov 10, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
One can see why the judges were wowed. The voice of Slimani's omniscient narrator is chill and precise; her plot spares neither her characters' fates nor her readers' sensibilities.

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Slimani, LeïlaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cappellini, ElenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Embarek López, MalikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heile, CatherinePhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maes, GertrudTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thoma, AmelieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Miss Vezzis came from across the Borderline to look after some children who belonged to a lady until a regularly ordained nurse could come out. The lady said Miss vezzis was a bad, dirty nurse and inattentive. It never struck her that Miss Vezzis had her own life to lead and her own affairs to worry over, and that these affairs were the most important things in the world to Miss Vezzis.---Kipling, Plain Tales from the Hills.
"Do you understand, dear sir, do you understand what it means when there is absolutely nowhere to go?" Marmeladov's question of the previous day came suddenly into his mind. "For every man must have somewhere to go."---DOSTOYEVSKY, Crime and Punishment
for Émile
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Das Baby ist tot. Wenige Sekunden haben genügt.
The baby is dead.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Average: (3.43)
1 9
1.5 4
2 35
2.5 15
3 87
3.5 50
4 109
4.5 9
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