The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus — 6 years ago
I go into Granma’s bedroom to use the salmon-pink Princess phone on the night table, moving aside a few of her needlepoint pillows to sit on the sateen bedspread. As I punch the answering machine code into the keypad the soft light reminds me of sleep-overs from my childhood when she would leave the lamps on until I fell asleep. Mrs. X’s voice comes through like ice cubes dropped down the back of my dress.
“Oh Nanny…” (page 247)
This is a funny – and deeply disturbing book. The plot is simple: an NYU student, struggling to pay rent in Manhattan, takes on various gigs as a part-time nanny, caring for the children of people who have more money than they do common sense (or common decency).
The book is written with a dry humour that doesn’t gloss over the difficulties of a care-giver trying to do justice to the children she’s caring for while juggling the eccentricities of her employer. As you read this book, you find yourself saying “No! Nobody could possible be that shallow or stupid.” But on a gut level, you know that the authors’ inspiration was taken from experience.
The book has many, many laugh-out-loud moments and it’s extremely engaging. It’s a fun book and probably deserves the attention it has garnered based on entertainment value alone. But it also has an important point to make about money, relationships and families. I found parts of the book deeply distressing and unbearably sad. The book points a bleak picture of New York City’s elite and the underclass of hired help who serve them.
As a doglover, I’m profoundly grateful to the authors for the ‘happy ending.’ I don’t think I could have slept at night had there been a different outcome. But I was left wondering, “What will become of the children?”