“She is awaiting this nanny as if she is the Savior, while at the same time she is terrified by the idea of leaving her children with someone else.” THE PERFECT NANNY(PenguinBooks)
When Myriam, a lawyer, decides to return to work after having her children, Mila and Adam, 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 Friday night dinner parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. Adam and Myriam wonder if they’re abusing her kindness.
I love how Slimani writes and describes this woman’s slow descent into madness. She basically never had a chance.
“Everyday, she would encounter companions in madness, tramps, lunatics, talking to themselves. The city back then, was full of madmen.”
The reader questions whether or not the parents turned a blind eye, as long as their needs were met.
“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.”
It’s interesting how Silmani is able let readers know the horrible crime at the very beginning, yet hold our attention throughout the novel. She exploits power, class, race, domesticity and motherhood – all highly volatile emotions. Her craft is highly developed and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.
Leila Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt, which she won for THE PERFECT NANNY. A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, she is French president Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture. Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she now lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.