by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Uffda! Thumbs Down.
The book is a downer. The Nanny Diaries is the kind of book that wraps the reader up in the characters and their lives and then uses those well developed characters to spin a completely depressing plot. Technically the book is well written and the plot moves along. But the plot itself is very sad.
While Nan is finishing her degree, she gets a part time nanny job for an ultra rich Manhattan couple. Which turns into a nearly full time (but only paid for part time) nanny job caring for Grayer. It becomes apparent very early on that Nan's care is the only love that little Grayer ever gets. In short order, as would happen to any decent human being, Nan gives her heart to this little person and, in order to make Grayer's life a little better, puts herself at the beck and call of Grayer's self absorbed mother.
This drives Nan nuts over time. But the father's overly confident mistress drives her even nutser. Nan moralizes over the decision of whether or not to "tell on him". If she does, she has good reason to believe she will be dismissed, which will only hurt Grayer. But is she wrong to hide something of such import from her employer.
During play dates and various lessons and other scheduled activities, Nan gets to know and even is befriended by other cooks, house cleaners and nannies. Several of these employees are dismissed by their employers during the course of the book, all for little or no reason, on a whim of a wealthy, self-centered parent.
Readers are given a glimpse into the competition of upper income private school admissions. The small children are pushed and educated and forced into violin, Latin, French, piano, music, art and music history seemingly from the time they are born, all by way of the time and energies of the nannies. All this, so that by the time they have their interviews for Kindergarten, they can get one of the few slots in the school of their parents' choice.
The four-year-olds in the book are carried and strolled around New York. They are dressed and spoon fed (a very strict diet designed for ultimate brain growth) and pampered. They are incapable of independent activity.
Yes, I do understand this is fiction. But on the back cover it did claim to be true-to-life. It also said hilarious. The only way this book could be hilarious is if it couldn't ever be true. Frightening and depressing would be my preferred words.
Apparently I'm somewhat alone in my opinion, however, because I see it's been made into a comedic movie starring Scarlett Johansson as Nan.