I’m extremely excited about today’s review: The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani! I first heard about this book from Abby at Crime by the Book , and as soon as I read the review and summary, I knew this one was for me. I’m hesitant to even call this a “thriller,” because it really isn’t, at least not in the traditional sense. But, this is definitely the 2018 thriller to watch. Winner of the Goncourt Award, The Perfect Nanny was an international hit before its English translation hit American bookstores, and it is not one to miss!
The Perfect Nanny is an utterly suspenseful novel about a family in Paris. A hardworking mother recently returned to work, a father committed to pursuing his passion, and two small children. They need a nanny to look after the children and help organize their lives. They have high standards without a ton of money, so they are thrilled to find Louise. Louise, who can be 100% committed to them since her daughter is grown up and moved out, and her husband is dead. Louise, who can cook mouth-watering meals for their friends. Louise, who never stays too late, never says no, and before they can blink, has immersed herself in every piece of their lives.
Don’t let the slightly sleazy sounding title fool you. This is not a thriller about affairs, disappearing girls, or any of the tropes I tend to complain about. This book opens with a killer first sentence, first of all: “The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.”
After that, how on earth can you look away? You can’t.
Leila Slimani blends the suspense I love in thrillers with the writing of a literary novel, and in just over 200 pages creates an emotional, sinister look into class, race, and motherhood in French society. After that first sentence, the book moves backwards in time, so we get to see Louise as she gets to know the family, versus how she begins to act once she feels at home with them, and the transition is extremely unsettling.
Slimani doesn’t rely on crazy plot twists or big reveals to tell her story. Instead, she takes one family and uses one woman to tear them apart. It is terrifyingly brilliant. If you like a domestic thriller with some depth, I highly recommend The Perfect Nanny. It’s likely being overshadowed by the ever hyper Woman in the Window, so definitely pick it up!