The Perfect Nanny
When Myriam, a mother and brilliant French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work, she and her husband are forced to look for a caretaker for their two young children. They are thrilled to find Louise: the perfect nanny right from the start. Louise sings to the children, cleans the family's beautiful apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late whenever asked, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on each other, jealousy, resentment, and frustrations mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

The Perfect Nanny Details

TitleThe Perfect Nanny
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 9th, 2018
PublisherPenguin Books
Rating
GenreFiction, Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary, Cultural, France

The Perfect Nanny Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    Where do these stories come from? They emanate from Louise, in a continual flood, without her even thinking about it, without her making the slightest effort of memory or imagination. But in what black lake, in what deep forest has she found these cruel tales where the heroes die at the end, after first saving the world? I saw The Perfect Nanny on the Millions Most Anticipated list. It's a short book, and my library had it available to read immediately, so I thought: why not? I had very few exp Where do these stories come from? They emanate from Louise, in a continual flood, without her even thinking about it, without her making the slightest effort of memory or imagination. But in what black lake, in what deep forest has she found these cruel tales where the heroes die at the end, after first saving the world? I saw The Perfect Nanny on the Millions Most Anticipated list. It's a short book, and my library had it available to read immediately, so I thought: why not? I had very few expectations going into it, but this quiet, ugly little book crept right under my skin.It opens with a horrendous and engaging first chapter - two young children have been murdered. The story then moves back in time to the before; back to when Myriam decides to return to her career and hire a nanny to look after her two kids. Louise walks into the lives of Myriam and her husband, Paul, and completely exceeds their expectations of what a nanny should be. She cooks, she cleans, she plays, she teaches, she pretends, she hosts parties, and she accompanies them on vacation.Soon, Louise is deeply-embedded in every aspect of their lives and it is hard to imagine being without her. But... as they grow more closely-entwined than ever, Louise often becomes a burden. Too perfect. Too intense. Strange things start happening and Myriam begins to wonder if there is a darker side to this perfect nanny. And that was when she heard it. Most people live their whole lives without ever hearing a scream like that. It is the kind of scream heard during war, in the trenches, in other worlds, on other continents. It is not a scream from here. It's a strange book, mostly concerned with daily life and the interactions between the main few characters. But there is something extremely disquieting about it. Each scene is expertly told with tension simmering just under the surface, and it is no less effective for having given up the ending in the first chapter. I haven't read the original in french, but the translation seems fantastic.I know many readers will be left feeling dissatisfied by the ending and how it feels like we haven't been given enough reasons to justify the horrors of the book, but I actually found this even more haunting. It's the kind of book that beautifully tells a tragic story, but it narrates the events rather than considering the emotions that led to them. This leaves us to draw our own conclusions and, I have to say, my mind has been spinning around ever since I finished the last page.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Roxane
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of this intensely interior novels that are claustrophobic and incredibly engaging and disturbing. I was very aware that I was reading a translation and I have no doubt that in French, this novel is a show stopper. The translation is good but clunky at times. I suppose that is the nature of most translation. As a portrait of a nanny who ends up murdering her charges (not a spoiler), this novel does a good job of creating ambiguity and never really showing a clear cut why of the crime. This is one of this intensely interior novels that are claustrophobic and incredibly engaging and disturbing. I was very aware that I was reading a translation and I have no doubt that in French, this novel is a show stopper. The translation is good but clunky at times. I suppose that is the nature of most translation. As a portrait of a nanny who ends up murdering her charges (not a spoiler), this novel does a good job of creating ambiguity and never really showing a clear cut why of the crime. We also see little of the aftermath. Instead, you read the entire novel knowing something terrible is coming. In that, Slimani has us in her thrall. At times, the prose is overly indulgent and overwritten. Like, we get it. Chill. But still. This is a great novel. Lots to admire here.
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  • j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled]
    January 1, 1970
    FIVE STARSI still have chills days after finishing THE PERFECT NANNY. I’ve skipped over this novel many times thinking it would be the old “hand that rocks the cradle” plot. I could not have been more wrong. This unusual book got under my skin in the quietest, creepiest way possible and it deserves nothing less than 5 stars. The story opens with a brief graphic scene of violence depicting the death of two young children at the hands of their nanny. I almost put down the book, I was afraid it wou FIVE STARSI still have chills days after finishing THE PERFECT NANNY. I’ve skipped over this novel many times thinking it would be the old “hand that rocks the cradle” plot. I could not have been more wrong. This unusual book got under my skin in the quietest, creepiest way possible and it deserves nothing less than 5 stars. The story opens with a brief graphic scene of violence depicting the death of two young children at the hands of their nanny. I almost put down the book, I was afraid it would continue. But, no, that is only the first two pages. An unsettling and disturbing framework is set and the reader now views the rest of the story from the beginning, all the while knowing how this is going to end. Since we know WHO, the driving force of this tense character profile is WHY? As in real life, we see glimpses of madness in a person, but rarely is there a definable answer as to why someone would commit such a heinous act. Instead, it is a combination of inexplicable factors in a disturbed mind that may quietly lead to violence. The terrifying part to me is how the loving parents unknowingly invited a madwoman into their home. She appeared to them to be an angel, an actual Mary Poppins. Until, the unraveling began. And then it was too late. 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. The writing is smooth, yet spare. Leila Slimani has won many writing awards in her home country of France and it is easy to see why. I love this style of writing with one omniscient narrator telling the story in a simple, almost hypnotic manner. The short book is absolutely riveting and compulsively readable. This is for readers that loved Unraveling Oliver or We Need to Talk About Kevin. However, this novel feels completely fresh and is a much faster read than either of these. Truly, one of my new favorites.
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  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister
    January 1, 1970
    4 slower-building, but gripping, stars to The Perfect Nanny! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐The Perfect Nanny opened with the what. There was a horrific scene to behold in this family’s home. For the entire book, I was on the edge of my seat wondering the why with tons of ambiguity and build-up at a slower-moving pace. Louise seems to be epitome of the perfect nanny, but people aren’t always who and what they appear to be. The side messages on class, privilege, and child rearing in France were interesting. This had all 4 slower-building, but gripping, stars to The Perfect Nanny! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️The Perfect Nanny opened with the what. There was a horrific scene to behold in this family’s home. For the entire book, I was on the edge of my seat wondering the why with tons of ambiguity and build-up at a slower-moving pace. Louise seems to be epitome of the perfect nanny, but people aren’t always who and what they appear to be. The side messages on class, privilege, and child rearing in France were interesting. This had all the makings of a five star read. Until the ending. It was a little too loose and open. I was really looking forward to putting my finger on the why for some closure. The Perfect Nanny is a short and quick read. Overall, I found it gripping and engaging and well-worthy of four stars. Thanks to my Traveling Sisters for another great discussion. Please visit Norma and Brenda’s blog for the Traveling Sisters’ review: http://twogirlslostinacouleereading.w...Thank you to Leila Slimani, Penguin Books, and Edelweiss for the complimentary copy.
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  • .
    January 1, 1970
    4.726 stars - - to be released 01/09/18. the fact i read this in under twenty-four hrs (even though it is short in length, under 250 pages, i still usually take more time to read a selection even smaller than this)... the fact i was reading this deep into the night (i cannot remember the last time i've read at 3 am) should tell you i. luuved. this. title.released two yrs ago in france, this has finally been translated into english and released stateside. i am so fortunate these series of even 4.726 stars - - to be released 01/09/18. the fact i read this in under twenty-four hrs (even though it is short in length, under 250 pages, i still usually take more time to read a selection even smaller than this)... the fact i was reading this deep into the night (i cannot remember the last time i've read at 3 am) should tell you i. luuved. this. title.released two yrs ago in france, this has finally been translated into english and released stateside. i am so fortunate these series of events happened as they did because i was not a voracious reader until well into 2016 so i may have missed this and never known it. the beginning scene is shocking as you get most of the ending up front. the story is then told of the masse family: aspiring musician/producer paul, homemaker itching to use her education in law myriam, difficult, exhausting child, mila, and quiet little infant, adam. living in paris's tenth arrondissement, circumstances lead them to louise, a white woman in her forties who is once again available to take on the role as nanny. from wondrous to worrisome, from impeccable to impending eerieness, the perfect nanny delivers with devilish delight.i don't want to provide details as this story is short enough that it may spoil the experience. what i can say is if you are familiar or have read szabo magda's the door you should luuv this selection. louise reminded me of emerence in so many ways i kept picturing her older, more frail than this story's louise. the tension among the various characters make for a slightly chilling, thoroughly enrapturing tale that holds yr attention from start to finish. between ms. slimani's writing and mr. (sam) taylor's translation, the tone is a crisp cognition of engaging characters and situations.thanks to penguin / penguin random house and all involved in this goodreads giveaway.
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  • JanB
    January 1, 1970
    The story opens with the horrific description of the killing of two children by their nanny. Then the novel travels back in time to the events that led up to that day. We know what happens but what we don't know is the why. There are no easy answers, and this book doesn't offer them. It was inspired by the true case of the nanny who killed two children in NYC in 2012, and some aspects of the crime are eerily similar. Not knowing the why makes it all the more horrific.How can the perfect nanny, The story opens with the horrific description of the killing of two children by their nanny. Then the novel travels back in time to the events that led up to that day. We know what happens but what we don't know is the why. There are no easy answers, and this book doesn't offer them. It was inspired by the true case of the nanny who killed two children in NYC in 2012, and some aspects of the crime are eerily similar. Not knowing the why makes it all the more horrific.How can the perfect nanny, who is the envy of all your friends, suddenly snap? The relationship between the family and nanny is a complicated one. Is she family, friend, or is the relationship simply employer/employee? There's an inequality in the relationship, yet there's also an intimacy with this person knowing the intimate details of your life and your children's. What happens when cracks begin to appear in this perfection? Although a crime was committed, this is not a thriller or a crime novel. It is a character study and a social commentary. The cover, with the nanny’s face hidden, is brilliant. I see it as a cautionary tale of class and privilege, and how easy it is to allow someone else to take over more and more of the domestic duties of running a household, yet not truly seeing them as an individual. The story is told in the third person with a spare prose that leaves the reader feeling a bit detached, which adds to the sinister mood and mounting dread. There are warning signs that all was not well with the nanny psychologically, and I couldn’t help but wonder if just one person had intervened if things would have turned out differently. * edited to add: if you like your books tied up in the end with every mystery solved, this isn't the book for you. Just like in the real life case this is based upon, much is not known*this was a traveling sister read, which inspired a great discussion. You can find The Sister's blog at:https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....
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  • Paul Bryant
    January 1, 1970
    The author says she wanted to write about nannies. You know, the uneasy ambiguity, how they’re an intimate part of your family but they’re an employee, how they’re poor (mostly black, mostly immigrant) and they live in the middle of wealth during working hours, returning each day to the other side of the tracks; how they’re everything and they have your total trust (they look after your children more than you do) and nothing (they can be got rid of just like that).In an interview with The Guardi The author says she wanted to write about nannies. You know, the uneasy ambiguity, how they’re an intimate part of your family but they’re an employee, how they’re poor (mostly black, mostly immigrant) and they live in the middle of wealth during working hours, returning each day to the other side of the tracks; how they’re everything and they have your total trust (they look after your children more than you do) and nothing (they can be got rid of just like that).In an interview with The Guardian Ms Slimani explains that after she wrote 100 pages of stuff about the life of a nanny she was bored, bored, bored. Then – lightbulb moment!!!! She found a horrible story in the papers from New York.It was the murder of two children by their nanny. Happened on 25 October 2012 and the details are herehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_...She was able to electrify her boring nanny sociology with the closely copied details of this real life case, and they are very closely copied indeed. In fact it’s the precise same story transferred from Manhattan to Paris. Now really, this is kind of calculating, ain’t it. I’m not saying authors haven’t taken real life cases and built crackerjack novels out of them, of course they have, and anyway, when it comes to gruesome crimes, anything an author can imagine has been done out there in the actual world a hundred times over.The quote from the interview is, when she saw the account of the New York murders, Whoah! I thought, I have to start with this. Now the reader is going to be very interested in this very normal family.And we can’t say she was wrong, you must have seen all the rave reviews too. Not to mention the Prix Goncourt and two other Prixes. I’ll bet a movie is on the way as well.So that was some lightbulb.Well, leaving all that aside, does this short sharp you can read it in a day novel work?Well, yes, it does in two really big ways.One, it is really compulsive. It opens with the murders then of course the 200 following pages are all build-up, all a horrible up-piling of psychological tension awaiting the known bloodletting release, so you the reader are like a truffle hound, snuffling out the clues which will explain the crime, as this is not a whodunnit but a why-on-earth-did-she-do-it.Two, it brilliantly delineates the crammed together but world’s apart lives of the rich couple and the nanny and the underlying toxic nature of the relationship which starts rather tentatively, grows closer and more loving by the week and then begins to rot from the inside. This is the soul of Lullaby and why it’s worth reading. The very exact same thing is explored from a male point of view in the well-known novel The White Tiger, a story of a chauffeur in India, perpetually 18 inches apart from his employer, but in reality 400 million light years between them. In that novel too there is an act of murder unleashed by the servant.So Leila Slimani was dead right, about her material and about the way to pitch it. Would I have read an earnest long article about the bad situation of nannies in France? Not a chance. But this 207 page long article about the bad situation of nannies in France kept me turning the pages, turning the pages, and isn’t that the thing we all like to do?3.5 stars
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  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    I was curious about this book....winner of the Goncourt Prize since last year. But not enough to pay for it. I waited - patiently- for my library-ebook turn.Long waitlist. I actually like the book cover. It’s eye-catching. I use to wear Peter Pan collars - AS A CHILD....But if a nanny showed up for an interview dressed in one to watch my kids...my eyebrows would raise. What I didn’t know — is that this story was based on a true story. This is new information to me....which makes this book all th I was curious about this book....winner of the Goncourt Prize since last year. But not enough to pay for it. I waited - patiently- for my library-ebook turn.Long waitlist. I actually like the book cover. It’s eye-catching. I use to wear Peter Pan collars - AS A CHILD....But if a nanny showed up for an interview dressed in one to watch my kids...my eyebrows would raise. What I didn’t know — is that this story was based on a true story. This is new information to me....which makes this book all the more horrific and sad. I wondered if this was going to be like the movie “The Hand That Rocks Cradle” ...but ‘that’ movie wouldn’t win a French prestigious award. So do you see my curiosity? It isn’t by the way. I’m still not sure why this book ‘did’ win such a high standing award - but the writing ‘is’ good. Leila Slimani’s style reminds me of the first novel I read by Emily St. John Mandel called “Last Night In Montreal”. Very ‘clean’ writing - also eerie and puzzling. As readers, we definitely try to understand why “The Perfect Nanny”, Louise murdered the children? Louise keeps the house impeccably obsessively clean- and the children ‘mostly’ happily spoiled. When the book ends - do we understand anything more than in the beginning?To me - that’s the question. Yes - there are disturbing signs of ‘things’ not right..but do we really know ‘why’ this devastating crime happened?There was one line in this book that Louise saysthat kinda represents this entire book to me....and it’s very sad:“You shouldn’t try to understand everything. Children are just like adults. There’s nothing to understand”.
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  • Holly B
    January 1, 1970
    Buddy read with Laurie from Cozynookbks. You will learn how the story ends on the first page of the novel. And my stomach was in knots as I read it.Told in third person from different view points, we learn how the unspeakable ending unfolded. So we are basically going back and learning just what transpired before the tragedy. The author writes in a poetic way using descriptions that I could visualize, smell and emotionally react too. It was creepy at times with a hint of the dread to come.Myriam Buddy read with Laurie from Cozynookbks. You will learn how the story ends on the first page of the novel. And my stomach was in knots as I read it.Told in third person from different view points, we learn how the unspeakable ending unfolded. So we are basically going back and learning just what transpired before the tragedy. The author writes in a poetic way using descriptions that I could visualize, smell and emotionally react too. It was creepy at times with a hint of the dread to come.Myriam and Paul are the parents of two young children. They are living in a flat in Paris and Myriam makes the decision to resume her career and becomes a criminal defense lawyer (ironically). They think they have found a "perfect" nanny named Louise. They hire her and she immediately impresses them by doing such a great job taking care of the kids, cleaning and even cooking. Louise has created a home of peace and harmony, but as we begin to learn of her past (through flashbacks of her former life) and we see disturbing scenes. She begins to do very strange things that upset Myriam and Paul, but they have grown to depend on her help. As the story progresses, you begin to see what the parents do not and the end may leave you with more questions than answers.I'll be interested in reading more from this author as I enjoyed her writing style. I thought it was effective in giving this story a very eerie tone. I will say that I was left feeling heartbroken and yearning to know the real truth.
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  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsFor me, this book was originally a solid 4 stars – that is, up until the ending (which I’ll get back to later). The opening scene was quite explosive and emotional, hooking me from the start in wanting to find out exactly what happened, why things turned out the way they did, how such a horrific tragedy occurred. We are taken back in time to the very beginning where we are introduced to the Masse family – parents Myriam and Paul who have two adorable kids, toddler Mila and baby Adam – a 3.5 starsFor me, this book was originally a solid 4 stars – that is, up until the ending (which I’ll get back to later). The opening scene was quite explosive and emotional, hooking me from the start in wanting to find out exactly what happened, why things turned out the way they did, how such a horrific tragedy occurred. We are taken back in time to the very beginning where we are introduced to the Masse family – parents Myriam and Paul who have two adorable kids, toddler Mila and baby Adam – a seemingly ordinary family who decides to hire a nanny due to Myriam resuming her career as a lawyer. Enter Louise, a young woman with a world of experience taking care of kids – not only are the kids charmed by her from the start, she also proves to be efficient in everything she does, whether cooking or cleaning or coming up with activities for the kids. Myriam and Paul are thrilled that they have found the “perfect” nanny to take care of their kids, allowing them to immerse themselves into their careers without worry…as long as Louise is there, everything will be fine – that is the mantra that Paul and Myriam live by as they become increasingly dependent on Louise day-to-day….until one day when they realize everything ISN’T fine after all….This was a slow-burn, character-driven story that doesn’t really follow the traditional mystery/suspense/thriller format in that we already find out “what happened” and “who did it” within the first few pages, so the big question explored throughout the rest of the narrative was to understand the “why” and “how” – why did the nanny do what she did and how did things get to this point? Originally written and released in France 2 years ago, this book was recently translated into English for the U.S. market – while some of the sentences did come off a little bit oddly structured, I would say that overall, the writing was quite good. The author did a great job building up Louise’s character, revealing her past in bits interspersed with parts of the investigation. As Louise’s relationship with the family slowly unraveled, the sense of creepiness and tension slowly heightened as well, reaching near breaking point – I was absolutely on the edge of my seat and felt like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! So I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise then that I was disappointed with the way this book ended, which was very abruptly, with many questions still unanswered, plot points not yet resolved, many loops not yet closed. My first thought when I got to what ended up being the last page was that perhaps something happened to my copy of the ARC when I downloaded and perhaps some pages went missing, so I immediately went back and re-downloaded the book – in all formats available – and checked each one to see if the last section was the same….when I found out they were and the story truly did end at the point it did, I was actually quite upset, as I honestly felt like I’d just been played. It was akin to me waiting all season to finally watch that finale episode of my favorite TV show where everything will finally be revealed after building up the suspense for months, with my eyes glued to the TV set in eager anticipation, only to find out the finale was pre-empted last minute with no re-scheduled airing date planned (this is actually something that happened to be me before, way back in the day…). I guess in a way, the ending ruined the book for me, as I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to be left hanging – when I’m reading a book (or watching a TV series or a movie), I always need to have some type of closure, some indication that the story arc has ended…even if the intention is to continue with the story as a series with the same characters at a later point, this particular story needs to end first. I didn’t get that with this book and unfortunately, it ended up leaving a bitter taste in my mouth as a result.Aside from the issues with the ending, this was an otherwise solid read that I actually do recommend for its compelling story and riveting characters. The author is obviously a very talented writer and can craft a truly captivating story. I would probably still read other books by this author but of course while crossing my fingers hoping that those endings don’t turn out like this one did…Received ARC from Penguin Group via Edelweiss
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  • Ammar
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @35% I tried my best to get into this novel, but couldn’t.The novel opens with a beautiful written crime scene, it’s shocking but written well. Then it started downhill for me.. I couldn’t feel anything for Myriam, Paul, Louise, Pascale, or Milla or Adam It felt dry, perhaps due to it being a translated work that could maybe is brilliant in French , but didn’t read well in English.
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  • Mohamed Al
    January 1, 1970
    من أكثر المناطر استفزازًا لي هي رؤية عائلة تجلس في مطعم وتلتهم ما لذّ وطاب لها من مأكولات، بينما تقف عاملتهم المنزلية خلف واجهة المطعم الزجاجية وحيدة، وربما جائعة، بانتظار أن ينتهوا من ابتلاع الأطباق التي أمامهم.ومن أكثر الأخبار استفزازًا لي هي تلك التي تنقل جرائم العاملات المنزلية دون أن تنقل في المقابل الجرائم التي يرتكبها أصحاب المنازل ضد هؤلاء العاملات المنزليات.أدرك بأن هناك نسبة من العاملات المنزليات ترتكب الجرائم دون أن يكون لمشغليهم سبب مباشر فيها، ولكنني أؤمن بأن الكثير من هذه الجرائم م من أكثر المناطر استفزازًا لي هي رؤية عائلة تجلس في مطعم وتلتهم ما لذّ وطاب لها من مأكولات، بينما تقف عاملتهم المنزلية خلف واجهة المطعم الزجاجية وحيدة، وربما جائعة، بانتظار أن ينتهوا من ابتلاع الأطباق التي أمامهم.ومن أكثر الأخبار استفزازًا لي هي تلك التي تنقل جرائم العاملات المنزلية دون أن تنقل في المقابل الجرائم التي يرتكبها أصحاب المنازل ضد هؤلاء العاملات المنزليات.أدرك بأن هناك نسبة من العاملات المنزليات ترتكب الجرائم دون أن يكون لمشغليهم سبب مباشر فيها، ولكنني أؤمن بأن الكثير من هذه الجرائم مدفوعة بالرغبة في الانتقام من أرباب عملهم الذين يعاملونهم كعبيد أو كآلات.نعم، أنا أرفض وأستهجن جرائم العاملات المنزليات، ولكنني أرفض وأستهجن بدرجة مساوية معاملة الكثير من مشغّليهم لهم. قرأت قبل فترة عن سيدة أعمال إماراتية اعتدت على عاملتها المنزلية بالماء المغلي، وعن عاملة إندونيسية لم تستلم راتبها لسنوات من العائلة السعودية التي تعمل عندها، وعن سيدة كويتية صورت عاملتها المنزلية وهي تحاول إلقاء نفسها من الشرفة (دون أن تمد لها يد المساعدة)، وعن سيدة لبنانية لا تتعامل مع عاملتها المنزلية إلا بالشتم والضرب ... والقائمة تطول ولا تنتهي.لذلك عندما انتهيت من قراءة هذه الرواية التي تبدأ بمشهد ارتكاب مربية جريمة قتل، ومن ثم تتوغل في نفسية هذه المربية المختلة لتبحث في أسباب ارتكابها للجريمة، دعوت الله ألا تقع هذه الرواية في يد ربة بيت موسوسة تبحث عن عذر لتبرير خوفها من مربيتها أو عاملتها المنزلية وتسئ معاملتها.
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    Myriam gave up her career when she had her two children with her husband, Paul. Soon she found herself resenting her children and her husband and needed more from her life. Given the opportunity to go back to law, she took it. With this decision, came the choice to hire a nanny to take care of the children. Enter Louise, who seems perfect! The children love her and as time goes by, they want for nothing. Meals are made, the living space is cleaned, the children are happy... but soon resentment, Myriam gave up her career when she had her two children with her husband, Paul. Soon she found herself resenting her children and her husband and needed more from her life. Given the opportunity to go back to law, she took it. With this decision, came the choice to hire a nanny to take care of the children. Enter Louise, who seems perfect! The children love her and as time goes by, they want for nothing. Meals are made, the living space is cleaned, the children are happy... but soon resentment, jealous and anger starts to build...I am so torn with this novel. The opening lines "The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds." really popped and made me think we were going into a novel where we find out how this tragedy occurred. Instead we're taken on a character study. A journey into the life of a nanny who is often overlooked, underappreciated and with little self esteem. We find a woman whose sole purpose in life is to take care of others and makes that her entire world, often neglecting herself in the process. We get inside her head, her past with her own family, her past nanny history, and a little bit of explaining of why she acts the way that she does. Alongside that we get a little bit into Myriam's mind as well. Her issues with trying to be a full time mother, her accomplishments as a lawyer, her growing unease with Louise in the house. Then we are presented with various random chapters of other people that are involved in Louise's life. The problem is, nothing is ever fully fleshed out. You realize early on that the book is heading in a direction to reveal why Louis took the actions that she did. The opening pages tell you she killed the children. Now we need to know why. It just never got there. The ending was disappointing. Maybe the author meant for there to be no resolve, which is fine - sometimes I don't mind this.. but it didn't get enough meat and potatoes throughout for me to feel satisfied.The writing is fantastic, however. My favorite parts of this novel is the author's prose, with the only exception being that sometimes the chapters became choppy with whose point of view we were supposed to be in. I'm not sure if that is lost in the translation of the novel or not. Either way, you definitely cannot take away from her talent. I can understand why she won the Goncourt award.On a final note, putting a quote from The Telegraph as "Is The Perfect Nanny the next Gone Girl? ...." as the first line of the synopsis on Goodreads and Amazon gives you a false feel for what this book is going to be.
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  • Helene Jeppesen
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. This book starts out with a bang. The very first chapter tells us of two children who have been murdered in their nursery, as well as their nurse who is the main suspect and who's found in a coma. The rest of a book is a flashback on what led up to this horrific event. We get into depth with the parent role and how hard it can be to juggle to children and remain insane. We also get to know the children better as well as Louise, the nanny that the parents decide to hide. Louise is basi 3.5 stars. This book starts out with a bang. The very first chapter tells us of two children who have been murdered in their nursery, as well as their nurse who is the main suspect and who's found in a coma. The rest of a book is a flashback on what led up to this horrific event. We get into depth with the parent role and how hard it can be to juggle to children and remain insane. We also get to know the children better as well as Louise, the nanny that the parents decide to hide. Louise is basically the perfect nanny! Besides from taking care of the two children at any time of the day, she does the laundry, tidies the apartment and cooks dinner for everyone. However, the very first chapter mentioned above lets us know that Louise isn't as perfect as it might seem, after all. I liked how this book plays with shifts in roles (I won't go into spoilers). I also loved how it has an emphasis on the characters instead of on the actual crime. The writing I found to be a bit too fragmented and at times confusing for my taste (I read it in its original language, French), but it wasn't a problem at all to read, and I grew to really like this family as well as Louise. Definitely an intriguing read that I recommend, and I see why a lot of people like it and why it won the prestigeful Prix Goncourt in France.
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  • Book of Secrets
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars → Ugh, from the very beginning, this book was chilling. Unsettling. It's not a typical thriller, more character-driven, maybe a character study of sorts. None of the characters were likable, but they were fascinating. A young Parisian couple, Myriam and Paul, hire Louise as a nanny for their two small children. With a good reference from her previous employer, and being somewhat desperate to find childcare, they quickly welcome Louise into their lives. Oh, dear. Louise seems perfect on 3.5 Stars → Ugh, from the very beginning, this book was chilling. Unsettling. It's not a typical thriller, more character-driven, maybe a character study of sorts. None of the characters were likable, but they were fascinating. A young Parisian couple, Myriam and Paul, hire Louise as a nanny for their two small children. With a good reference from her previous employer, and being somewhat desperate to find childcare, they quickly welcome Louise into their lives. Oh, dear. Louise seems perfect on the outside, but she has hidden issues, which are slowly reveled as the story progresses. While reading this book, I felt like I was watching the characters from a distance rather than being a part of the story. I wonder if it's because this is the English translation from French, or was that the intent. The writing was good...just had a distant feel. The ending, well, I wanted more. Too many questions unanswered.
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  • Emer
    January 1, 1970
    I only recently heard of Leïla Slimani when French president Emmanuel Macron gave her the position of Francophone affairs minister. The Morocco-born author won the prestigious Prix Goncourt literary award for her second novel, Chanson douce, which has just now been translated into English and given the title Lullaby. It is known as The Perfect Nanny in the USA.So I had to read this novel for myself and find out if I could believe the hype.... And I'm pleased to say that this absolutely lives up I only recently heard of Leïla Slimani when French president Emmanuel Macron gave her the position of Francophone affairs minister. The Morocco-born author won the prestigious Prix Goncourt literary award for her second novel, Chanson douce, which has just now been translated into English and given the title Lullaby. It is known as The Perfect Nanny in the USA.So I had to read this novel for myself and find out if I could believe the hype.... And I'm pleased to say that this absolutely lives up to the hype!!!It is such an intelligently written book with such an insidious core that can only leave the reader completely chilled. From the opening page we learn that children have been murdered by their nanny and the book then steps back in time to see how this horrific event unfolds. And not only is this a gripping thriller it is also a book with a great social commentary on how society views mothers, both stay at home and working, and it subtly explores racial tensions too. And impressively all this is achieved in such a short space of time without seeming rushed or incomplete; this is a novel barely over 200 pages long!I really don't want to say any more about the details of the plot as everything is so perfectly paced in this book with each detail and reveal carefully placed in the storyline for the maximum chilling effect. And therefore I would not wish to taint the reading experience for anyone who wishes to read this by giving spoilers. four stars "In that room she lost all notion of time. She felt lost, crazed. The whole world had forgotten her. She would sleep for hours and wake up swollen-eyed, her head aching, despite the cold that seethed through the room. She only went out when she absolutely had to, when her hunger became too painful to ignore. She walked in the street as if it were cinema set and she were not there, and invisible spectator to the movements of mankind. Everyone seemed to have somewhere to go."
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  • PopiTonja
    January 1, 1970
    Roman godine u Francuskoj i dobitnik neke nagrade cccImala sam utisak da citam ne bas najbolji deciji sastav. Kao sto rekoh citam i osecam se tupo. o.O
  • Roger Brunyate
    January 1, 1970
    The NannyBirdlike, blonde Louise, hardly bigger than a girl herself, is a magician with children. At her interview with the busy Massé parents in their Paris apartment, she gently takes the squalling baby Adam from his father's arms, calming him instantly, and entices the toddler Mila out of hiding by pretending that she is a princess who has disappeared. Myriam, the children's mother, returns from her first day back at work as an advocate to find that Louise has totally tidied the cramped apart The NannyBirdlike, blonde Louise, hardly bigger than a girl herself, is a magician with children. At her interview with the busy Massé parents in their Paris apartment, she gently takes the squalling baby Adam from his father's arms, calming him instantly, and entices the toddler Mila out of hiding by pretending that she is a princess who has disappeared. Myriam, the children's mother, returns from her first day back at work as an advocate to find that Louise has totally tidied the cramped apartment, seemingly doubling it in size. When the nanny also shows her abilities as a cook, the father, Paul, who manages and records popular musicians, proudly invites friends and colleagues to enjoy the dinners prepared by their perfect nanny. Within weeks, Louise has become one of the family.It seems a miracle. But Leïla Slimani opens her book with the shocking words: "Le bébé est mort." The baby dead, the girl fatally wounded, the apartment bathroom a scene of carnage, the father away on business, the mother in shock. At first, it seems like a crime novel, working backwards to enable us to solve, or at least to understand, the murders. Yet Slimani is more subtle than that. Over the three or four years when Louise is working for the Massés—with occasional flashbacks to her previous employments, her life with her late husband, and troubles with her own daughter—the author paints a complex but instantly recognizable picture of contemporary social life. Unlike a mystery novel, there are few dark secrets waiting to be discovered, simply a developing subtext of class and privilege. Louise is no murderess in waiting, but a rather sad woman who neglects her own life to live vicariously through the perfect care of her charges. The Massés are struggling young professionals, living in the smallest apartment in their building. When they share their lives with Louise, even taking her on holiday to the Greek Islands, their affection is genuine.Leïla Slimani was born in Morocco in 1981, and came to France at the age of 17. Chanson douce, her second novel, won her the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 2016; it became an instant best-seller in France and awaits translation here.* Race indeed plays a role in the subtext of class in the book, but it is a measure of the author's subtlety that she treats it only indirectly. It is Myriam, the rising lawyer, who is the Arabic-speaking immigrant; if there is any racism in the book, it is in her reluctance to hire a North African nanny who would seek a false sisterhood with her on grounds of language. But Louise is white. Her friend Wafa, indeed, is an undocumented immigrant, but she plays a minor role in the plot. Slimani's message is that life can deal a rotten hand to anyone; there is no need to look only to obvious factors to explain it.Myriam, defending an accused murderer in the course of her work, tells him: "We have to prove that you, you also are a victim." The case has nothing to do with the main plot, but everything to do with Slimani's theme. For when she is done, that is precisely how we see Louise: as a victim—not of others, but of life itself.======* The title, literally “Sweet Song,” was translated in Britain as Lullaby; an American edition will be has been issued early in 2018 as The Perfect Nanny. There is an excellent article by Lauren Collins in the 1/1/2018 New Yorker about Slimani and her two novels; for link, see comment #5. Perhaps because she is the mother of young children herself, Collins sees far more of the danger and daring of the novel than I could as an elderly man. It makes me a little ashamed that I gave the book only four stars, but I won’t change that now.
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  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    January 1, 1970
    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/3.5 Stars “The baby is dead.” I’m not exactly sure how I ended up with this book. I thought it must have been one of the suggestions from the library for the “Shelf of Suspects” challenge, but I just double-checked and it is not. Whatever way I ended up with it, I have to say that is one doozy of an opening line. I also have to say if you’re expecting a story like this . . . . As I will freely admit I was, you’re not going to find it Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/3.5 Stars “The baby is dead.” I’m not exactly sure how I ended up with this book. I thought it must have been one of the suggestions from the library for the “Shelf of Suspects” challenge, but I just double-checked and it is not. Whatever way I ended up with it, I have to say that is one doozy of an opening line. I also have to say if you’re expecting a story like this . . . . As I will freely admit I was, you’re not going to find it within the pages of The Perfect Nanny. This was definitely not a thriller. It was a character study. Lucky for me it was a rather good one. The story here is that Myriam has discovered life as a stay-at-home mom isn’t nearly as fulfilling as she always imagined it would be. When an opportunity for Myriam to return to work as an attorney comes up, she is quick to take it. Especially after interviewing Louise – the perfect nanny. What follows is a brief, yet thorough, tale of how Louise went from being practically perfect in every way to murdering the children in her care.Obviously if you are looking for chills and thrills and twists and turns, this isn’t going to deliver. I’m glad I was able to change my expectations and I have to say it has left me questioning how many other books I would have enjoyed if they had been approached in this manner rather than with all of the rigmarole above. I’m looking at you, Rachel . . . . Book #4 in the library’s Winter Reading Challenge
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  • Les Sadiq
    January 1, 1970
    Contrairement au titre qui promet et laisse présager la lecture d’une histoire douce, paisible et poétique, dès la première page, une image terrifiante et sanglante d’un bébé et d’un enfant tués par leur nounou s’offre à nous. Après ce chapitre, les fils sont tirés un à un jusqu’au drame. Mais pas vraiment ! L’histoire est celle de Pascal et Myriam, un couple de jeunes parisiens mariés avec deux enfants, Mia et Adam. Myriam avait fait des études de droit mais a fini par choisir de devenir femme Contrairement au titre qui promet et laisse présager la lecture d’une histoire douce, paisible et poétique, dès la première page, une image terrifiante et sanglante d’un bébé et d’un enfant tués par leur nounou s’offre à nous. Après ce chapitre, les fils sont tirés un à un jusqu’au drame. Mais pas vraiment ! L’histoire est celle de Pascal et Myriam, un couple de jeunes parisiens mariés avec deux enfants, Mia et Adam. Myriam avait fait des études de droit mais a fini par choisir de devenir femme au foyer et de garder ses enfants. Sauf qu’à un certain moment, Myriam n’en pouvait plus avec une telle vie et a voulu reprendre sa carrière. Pour cela, le couple devait engager une nounou pour garder leurs enfants. L’alchimie est immédiate entre Myriam et Louise, la nounou quinquagénaire parfaite. Et les enfants l'ont aimé dès le premier abord. La nounou est là. Les parents seront tellement accaparés par leurs carrières qu’ils lui abandonneront en quelque sorte leur devoir parental. Une histoire ordinaire de couple marié avec des enfants. Mais, ce meurtre ? C'était la raison pour laquelle j'ai voulu le lire. Tout au long de la lecture, j'attendais à ce que l’auteur explique un peu plus profondément les raisons qu’ont poussé la nounou à commettre un tel crime, elle qui était si parfaite et que tout le monde aimait inconditionnellement. Résultat : questions sans réponses. Enfin, il y a eu quelques tentatives de réponses mais ce n’était pas assez satisfaisant. Le style et l’écriture de Leila Slimani sont fluides. On se laisse emporter par la rapidité du récit. Depuis le fait d’avoir remporté le prix de la Mamounia pour son premier roman « Dans le jardin de l'ogre », je me disais qu’il fallait la découvrir. Cette fois, en voyant que son roman « Chanson douce » est en lice pour les prix Goncourt, Renaudot et Flore, je me suis dit que ça vaudra le détour. Pour ne pas dire que j’ai été déçue, je dirai que ce n’était pas mal. Ça ne m’a ni bouleversée ni tourmentée comme ce à quoi je m’attendais, mais chose est sûre, on ne sort pas indemne d’une telle lecture.
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  • Juliedesbouquins
    January 1, 1970
    Bon bon bon, comment vous dire ? Je crois que sur ce coup là, le train est parti sans moi. C'est délicat de dire que j'ai été peu voir pas convaincue face à un sujet qui ne peut laisser personne indifférent. Pourtant c'est bien le cas. Si les deux premières pages sont percutantes, la suite est un enchaînement de descriptions qui se laisse lire mais ne m'a pas permise d'entrer complètement dans cette sordide histoire. Je n'ai pas ressenti cette "montée en puissance" dont la majorité des personnes Bon bon bon, comment vous dire ? Je crois que sur ce coup là, le train est parti sans moi. C'est délicat de dire que j'ai été peu voir pas convaincue face à un sujet qui ne peut laisser personne indifférent. Pourtant c'est bien le cas. Si les deux premières pages sont percutantes, la suite est un enchaînement de descriptions qui se laisse lire mais ne m'a pas permise d'entrer complètement dans cette sordide histoire. Je n'ai pas ressenti cette "montée en puissance" dont la majorité des personnes qui ont lu le livre, parlent sur les réseaux sociaux. Au contraire, j'ai trouvé le récit plat, sans relief, et cela notamment du fait que les personnages sont peu creusés à mon goût, voire caricaturaux. Je ne me suis attachée ni aux parents (un peu trop naïfs), ni aux enfants (un peu trop détestables). Quant à la nounou, alors là, je ne sais que dire, son histoire ne m'a absolument pas touché, je l'ai trouvé (l'histoire), assez grossière et peu crédible. De surcroît, elle ne justifie en rien son comportement si tant est que quelque chose puisse justifier ces actes insoutenables. Globalement je sors donc déçue de cette lecture, je m'attendais à être bouleversée, tourmentée, remuée par ce roman, ce qui n'a pas été le cas puisque l'auteur est restée en surface face à un sujet qui méritait une écriture plus incisive à mon sens.
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  • Eric Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    Basing a psychological thriller around a nanny who murders the children she cares for makes for a terrifyingly effective sensational story, but where “Lullaby” by Leila Slimani really excels is in its sophisticated take on classism, privilege and isolation in modern-day Paris. The novel opens with the discovery of young children Adam and Mila who have been slain by their nanny Louise. How Louise came to become an integral part of this family’s life and felt driven to this gruesome end is deftly Basing a psychological thriller around a nanny who murders the children she cares for makes for a terrifyingly effective sensational story, but where “Lullaby” by Leila Slimani really excels is in its sophisticated take on classism, privilege and isolation in modern-day Paris. The novel opens with the discovery of young children Adam and Mila who have been slain by their nanny Louise. How Louise came to become an integral part of this family’s life and felt driven to this gruesome end is deftly explored throughout the story. Busy professionals Myriam and Paul grow increasingly distanced from the care of their children and the upkeep of their home once they hire Louise. The tension between the couple’s personal and professional relationship with the hired help is tested over time until the nanny’s position as an intimate familiar within the household becomes untenable. This is a fast-paced gripping tale that raises a lot of provocative questions.Read my full review of Lullaby by Leïla Slimani on LonesomeReader
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    This was an easy, quick read that I picked up from my local library without any real preconceptions about what it was about, other than a small amount of buzz around it on Goodreads. I liked the cover and title and the blurb intrigued me. Louise is a nanny who’s killed two children. We learn that in the opening paragraph. What follows is a character breakdown of what led Louise to do what she did, and why. I’ll start by saying that all of the characters in this are awful. The father is mean, sel This was an easy, quick read that I picked up from my local library without any real preconceptions about what it was about, other than a small amount of buzz around it on Goodreads. I liked the cover and title and the blurb intrigued me. Louise is a nanny who’s killed two children. We learn that in the opening paragraph. What follows is a character breakdown of what led Louise to do what she did, and why. I’ll start by saying that all of the characters in this are awful. The father is mean, self important and narcissistic. The mother is simpering, eager to please with no backbone. The children are bratty and wild. It all adds up to a less than perfect family, and I struggled to really get to grips with any of them, as they had no redeeming features. They all got under my skin - and not in a good way. The way this is told also seems quite cold in its observations. We’re told the story as if from the view point of an emotional less narrator, and I’m not sure if it was the translation or not, but it left a lot to be desired. It’s more a character assessment on the roles of nannies in France and their personal lives rather than a proper plot. The plot itself is also odd, in that it starts at the end and backtracks to the previous months leading up to the murders. We see Louise entering the household to care for Mila and Andrew, and slowly see her unravel. Odd behaviours and thoughts begin to manifest and build. Wedged in between these chapters are small paragraphs told from other view points from after the murders - which I found jarring and confusing, as the police try to piece together what happened. A quick read, but I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. I’ve read better.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    A sad and disturbing tale of a nanny that slowly loses her mind while caring for two children. The first chapter is absolutely brutal and from there we flashback to when Louise is first hired by Myriam and Paul. We slowly watch as the cracks develop in her mind until she spirals down into the depths of unrelenting despair. How and why could someone do something so awful? You won't get that answer here. If you are expecting any type of resolution then you will be disappointed. You are left to spe A sad and disturbing tale of a nanny that slowly loses her mind while caring for two children. The first chapter is absolutely brutal and from there we flashback to when Louise is first hired by Myriam and Paul. We slowly watch as the cracks develop in her mind until she spirals down into the depths of unrelenting despair. How and why could someone do something so awful? You won't get that answer here. If you are expecting any type of resolution then you will be disappointed. You are left to speculate and I think I will be thinking about this one for quite some time. Leila Slimani is an incredibly talented writer and I thought her prose was both haunting and beautiful.
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 hard to pin down starsWhy do people do what they do? What goes on in the workings on one's mind that can change them from the image they project into a macabre nightmare?Louise is the perfect nanny, so very perfect that the couple who hire her, Myriam and her husband Paul, are thrilled with her performance. Everything is done for the children, and eventually everything is done for the couple as well. There are no worries about working late, of not being able to stay home because of a child's 3.5 hard to pin down starsWhy do people do what they do? What goes on in the workings on one's mind that can change them from the image they project into a macabre nightmare?Louise is the perfect nanny, so very perfect that the couple who hire her, Myriam and her husband Paul, are thrilled with her performance. Everything is done for the children, and eventually everything is done for the couple as well. There are no worries about working late, of not being able to stay home because of a child's illness, of even having to cook a meal, and clean. Louise does it all. However, as in all perfection there is a chink in the armor and as the story continues we begin to see those chinks not only in Louise but in Myriam and Paul as well.When Myriam arrives home from work and finds the most horrendous scene a parent can imagine, the story takes off and entwines the reader into what exactly has made the perfect nanny become the perfect devil. Why is it she did what she did and who really is this person Louise?Those looking for answers were find little or none. The mental and emotional slaps that Louise has suffered delivered by the actions of her employers and a life that relegated Louise to an obnoxious husband, an ungrateful troubled daughter, open a tiny hole within Louise that build to a chasm. So what is the lesson here? Perhaps as we learn more and more about the human psyche, we will ultimately realize that there is no such thing as perfection, but evil yes, evil exists even when it is well hidden.
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  • Linda Strong
    January 1, 1970
    Myriam and Paul are the parents of two small children. When Myriam decides to go back to work, a search begins for a nanny.Never did they think they would find anyone as perfect as Louise. She's young, she's quite efficient, and she has a way with the children. She cooks, she cleans, she goes over and beyond what her duties actually are. Myriam and Paul are delighted and can't believe how lucky they are.But there's something about Louise ... something that bothers the parents. She seems to resen Myriam and Paul are the parents of two small children. When Myriam decides to go back to work, a search begins for a nanny.Never did they think they would find anyone as perfect as Louise. She's young, she's quite efficient, and she has a way with the children. She cooks, she cleans, she goes over and beyond what her duties actually are. Myriam and Paul are delighted and can't believe how lucky they are.But there's something about Louise ... something that bothers the parents. She seems to resent the same family that she loves and wants to be a part of. Louise has a past ... and secrets.The children will pay.This is a chilling debut novel that loosely draws on a real story of a nanny from the Dominican Republic who was accused of killing two children under her care in 2012. Be warned ... the first chapter is somewhat graphic and emotional. I can't honestly say I liked either of the parents, they come across as rather self-absorbed. The children were young and sweet and so innocent. I started out suspicious of Louise .. she was just too good to be true. The story goes back into time every few chapters which shows the life Louise has lived. I have ambivalent feelings about the ending ... it was a bit abrupt and didn't really answer the questions I had. Many thanks to the author / Penguin Publishing / Edelweiss for the advance digital copy of this Psychological Thriller. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    Leïla Slimani became the first Moroccan woman to win the Prix Goncourt with Lullaby. It's an odd little book that seems unsure whether it's a domestic thriller or literary fiction, and peters out before it makes up its mind.It has one of those opening lines I've come to think of as the literary equivalent of clickbait: 'The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.' The prologue goes on to depict a horrifying scene: a little girl and her baby brother have been murdered; 'the princess rug was soa Leïla Slimani became the first Moroccan woman to win the Prix Goncourt with Lullaby. It's an odd little book that seems unsure whether it's a domestic thriller or literary fiction, and peters out before it makes up its mind.It has one of those opening lines I've come to think of as the literary equivalent of clickbait: 'The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.' The prologue goes on to depict a horrifying scene: a little girl and her baby brother have been murdered; 'the princess rug was soaked with blood.' It seems beyond doubt that the children were killed by their nanny, Louise, who attempted suicide after carrying out her crime. But Louise, a 40-year-old widow with an adult daughter of her own, had always seemed devoted to her charges, adored by the family. What happened here? What could have driven this docile, doting woman to such an act?This is normally where I'd say something like 'the rest of the book is the answer to that question', but it isn't. Anyone planning to read Lullaby should, I think, be aware that there is no satisfactory explanation for what happens. We do get to know a lot more about Louise, as well as her employers, and the narrative occasionally flits to other viewpoints (the most intriguing of these short chapters are about Stéphanie, Louise's daughter). Slimani paints a sensitive portrait of Louise, a lonely woman treated poorly by her husband, abandoned by her only child, and swallowed up by debts. However, this nuanced portrayal only serves to make it seem all the more unlikely and inexplicable that Louise's obsession with the Massé family would culminate in the bloody shock-value scene that opens the book.It's not an exaggeration to say that after finishing Lullaby, I searched and Google-Translated numerous other reviews of the book to check that I had, in fact, read the whole thing. I genuinely thought for a while that I might have received a faulty ARC that had somehow been cut off before the real ending. However, having come across others describing it as abrupt and unsatisfying, I feel sure that's just how it is.Lullaby reminded me most of Jill Alexander Essbaum's Hausfrau – both have a similar, coldly beautiful style – but where Hausfrau is masterfully plotted, Lullaby just seems to gradually wilt. There are so many good scenes and careful observations in this book, yet so many threads and suggestions that never come to anything whatsoever. Inexplicable things happen in reality, of course; indeed, Slimani has said in interviews that the novel is partly based on a real case. But this story, while fascinating, didn't make me believe in its characters' behaviour.I received an advance review copy of Lullaby from the publisher through Edelweiss.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Issicratea
    January 1, 1970
    Flavour-of-the-month novels, especially thrillerish ones, are often a “fast food” experience for me; I read them to satisfy a passing craving, but I lose interest after the first couple of bites. I felt that about the best-selling, much-touted Lullaby. It’s a Gone Girl-type domestic psychokiller novel, but I didn’t actually think it was as good as Gone Girl, Prix Goncourt or no Prix Goncourt. Leïla Slimani’s prose may sing in French, but it’s only serviceable in the English translation I read. T Flavour-of-the-month novels, especially thrillerish ones, are often a “fast food” experience for me; I read them to satisfy a passing craving, but I lose interest after the first couple of bites. I felt that about the best-selling, much-touted Lullaby. It’s a Gone Girl-type domestic psychokiller novel, but I didn’t actually think it was as good as Gone Girl, Prix Goncourt or no Prix Goncourt. Leïla Slimani’s prose may sing in French, but it’s only serviceable in the English translation I read. The characterization is flimsy and a little clichéd, and Slimani’s treatment of her sociological theme (the novel centers on the complex, charged relationship between nannies and parents, or, more particularly, nannies and mothers) didn’t seem startlingly insightful to me. I found myself wondering, rather meanly, how much Slimani’s attractive profile (young, strikingly good-looking, and from an interesting—Franco-Moroccan—ethnic background) contributed to the novel’s success.Aspiring fiction-writers are beaten around the head these days with injunctions to grab the reader’s attention in the opening lines, and Lullaby certainly does that (“The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.”) There’s no risk of a spoiler in giving away that the nanny done it; the novel is loosely based on the real-life 2012 case of Yoselyn Ortega, who stabbed her well-heeled Upper West Side employers’ two youngest children to death in a bath tub, before non-fatally stabbing herself. The luridness of the subject matter no doubt also contributed to the novel’s high profile, but I didn’t feel Slimani’s novel succeeded in answering the questions a case like that raises. The transformation of Slimani’s nanny figure, Louise, from Mary Poppins into Medea didn’t work for me psychologically, and I never really felt her life from within.
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    No wonder Slimani hit a nerve and won the Prix Goncourt with this book: She touches on some very inconvenient truths and common societal problems that seem extremely hard to resolve. "Lullaby" talks about gender roles, modern servants, the class system, marital rivalry, and loneliness (and not in the cutesie Eleanor Oliphant kind-of-way) in modern France. It does not come as a surprise that French President Emmanuel Macron chose Slimani as his personal representative for the promotion of French No wonder Slimani hit a nerve and won the Prix Goncourt with this book: She touches on some very inconvenient truths and common societal problems that seem extremely hard to resolve. "Lullaby" talks about gender roles, modern servants, the class system, marital rivalry, and loneliness (and not in the cutesie Eleanor Oliphant kind-of-way) in modern France. It does not come as a surprise that French President Emmanuel Macron chose Slimani as his personal representative for the promotion of French language and culture: The French-Maroccan writer has done her homework on intersectionality and societal challenges in today's France, and she mirrors that in her work (which can also be seen in her journalistic writing).This story opens with the outcome and unfolds by explaining how it happened: Louise, the nanny of the Massé family, has killed the two young children she was hired to watch. Myriam and Paul Massé had employed Louise after Myriam decided to go back to her job as a lawyer; before that, she had felt inadequate as she witnessed the career of her husband advance from her perspective as a stay-at-home mom. Myriam and Paul rely more and more on Louise and besides the pressure many working parents (especially mothers) feel - including the pressure to always be happy about their roles -, they also live with the classic ambiguities that come with employing personnel in one's own household: While they pretend that Louise belongs to the family, they know very well that she doesn't. The symapthy they feel for the much poorer woman with lower status is sometimes condescending, the benefits she receives (like a holiday with the family) self-serving, and Louise's obvious troubles are mostly perceived as a nuisance, the dysfunctionality of a household servant - but then again, isn't she exactly that? I was fascinated how Slimani often portrayed Louise's role as one between child and grown-up: Like a kid's, Louise's choices are limited, she has to obey to the parents of the kids she is watching, and due to her circumstances, she has never learnt to adequately adress her needs and demands. She is trapped in her own powerlessness that can easily tip over into rage. The effect of the story itself is heightened by the language Slimani chooses and that she herself described as "clinical". I am not going to spoil the details, but Slimani ventures into the nanny's family history and living circumstances to enlighten her motives and actions (without excusing them, of course), and I found it very well done. To see through the eyes of this murderess is a truly claustrophobic experience. Another aspect that is brought up in this context is race: On the playground, Louise is the only non-immigrant nanny.In the United States, the exploration of the white underclass through literature has gained momentum, especially since President Racist starting reviving the ghosts of the past. That's exactly what Slimani is doing here, and she is taking an intersectional approach. The outcome is very thought-provoking.If you want to know more about Slimani and the book, here's an interesting interview with her: https://monocle.com/radio/shows/meet-...
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  • Abby (Crime by the Book)
    January 1, 1970
    Find my full review here: http://crimebythebook.com/blog/2017/1...This is a smart, sophisticated French suspense novel that captivated me from first page to last. This is not your ordinary thriller - this book begins with a shocking event, but then backpedals - it really doesn’t involve many “shocking” events (aside from that opener), relying instead on subtle tension and smart plotting.
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