February 7, 2012

Review: The Nanny Diaries by E. McLaughlin & N. Krauss

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Release Date: March 2003
Publisher: Macmillan | St. Martin's
Pages: 306 pages
Source & Format: Borrowed From Friend; Paperback
Series: Nanny #1
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Wanted: One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless - bordering on masochistic. Must relish sixteen-hour shifts with a deliberately nap-deprived preschooler. Must love getting thrown up on, literally and figuratively, by everyone in his family. Must enjoy the delicious anticipation of ridiculously erratic pay. Mostly, must love being treated like fungus found growing out of employers Herm├Ęs bag. Those who take it personally need not apply.

Who wouldn't want this job? Struggling to graduate from NYU and afford her microscopic studio apartment, Nanny takes a position caring for the only son of the wealthy X family. She rapidly learns the insane amount of juggling involved to ensure that a Park Avenue wife who doesn't work, cook, clean, or raise her own child has a smooth day.

Over nine tense months, Mrs. X and Nanny perform the age-old dance of decorum and power as they test the limits of modern-day servitude.

Thoughts on The Nanny Diaries
For some reason, I kept meaning to read this book and never got around to it. I've checked it out from the library before. I've almost purchased it. But, for some reason, I never just sat down and started reading. I think I can trace it back to the fact that I watched the movie and wasn't too impressed. I guess I just forgot - the book is always better than the movie.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, easy read that kept me laughing throughout. The entire book comes across like an extended day in the life of Nanny. Each chapter explores different episodes during Nanny's time with the Xes. One minute I was cracking up over what Nanny had to do next, and the next I was feeling sorry for Grayer with his desperate desire to connect with his father. For the most part, I would recommend this book to fans of this genre.

However, the book did fall a little flat for me. Why? Because I felt like the authors had a hidden agenda. As former nannies, they are obviously incredibly familiar with this world. I couldn't just read the book for pleasure because I kept reading into everything. The book read like a social commentary - supposedly exploring the intricacies of the upper class. But since Nanny isn't really from the lower class, especially compared to some of the other nannies she mentions, it didn't sit right with me.

And honestly? I wanted to slap Nanny a few times. Stand up for yourself. You don't actually have to do this job if you hate it so much.

I also wanted to slap the parents. They were so self-absorbed and so detached from their child. It was actually hard for me to read about people who were so removed and neglectful. I felt so incredibly sorry for Grayer.

Aside from a few things, I liked this book. If you're looking for a sharp and biting comedy, this would definitely be a good pick.

So Quotable
"Nanny Fact: in every one of my interviews, references are never checked. I am white. I speak French. My parents are college educated. I have no visible piercings and have been to the Lincoln Center in the last two months. I'm hired."

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