The Perfect Nanny

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The Perfect Nanny
240 pages; Penguin Books
Translated by Sam Taylor

This thriller's first sentence, "The baby is dead," is a parent's worst nightmare. What follows, at least for a short time, is a parent's dream. Myriam and Paul, an affluent Parisian couple, hire Louise, the perfect nanny. Louise cleans, cooks and organizes their house and their lives, loves the children unconditionally, and isn't an "illegal immigrant," as Paul says, ticking off her qualifications. When Myriam questions her decision to return to work, nascent feelings of jealousy toward Louise surface, but the nanny has become indispensable. "You look at her," thinks Myriam, "and you do not see her. Her presence is intimate but never familiar." The omniscient point of view in which the story is told illuminates the treatment of domestic workers, the petty ugliness that can be endemic to marriage, and the primal fears that accompany having children. A taut page-turner about what can happen when no one pays attention to what matters most.
— Kerri Arsenault