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 decides to return to work as a lawyer after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their son and daughter. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic Paris apartment, 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, motherhood, and madness—and the American debut of an immensely talented writer.
My Thoughts: Perfection, or the appearance of it, is a theme in The Perfect Nanny. We see examples of the well-ordered world the nanny creates for the Masses family on a lovely Paris street. She makes their lives easy, with her tireless care, the cleaning, the dinners, and the willingness to stay late.
But beneath the façade, Louise is a complex mix of disordered thoughts, fantasies, fears, and intensity. Back and forth the story goes, offering glimpses of other lives the woman has lived, including one with a very troubled daughter.
As she slowly unravels before their eyes, Myriam and Paul try to sort through their thoughts and decide how to extricate their lives from hers. It should be simple, right? But Louise has so carefully inserted herself into their family that removing her seems impossible.
In the beginning, we know the ending. As we turn the pages, fear and curiosity keep us going, even as spending another minute in Louise’s mind seems too horrific to bear. A creepy tale of madness, obsession, and the power of routines, at times I wanted to stop reading. But like the Masses family, who could not rid themselves of her, I was unable to extricate myself from this character study of a fascinating and disturbing woman. 4 stars.