"Her face is like a peaceful sea, its depths suspected by no one." (page 17)
Paul and Myriam live in Paris. They have two children, babyboy Adam and a little girl, Mila. Myriam, a lawyer, after a happy time as a mother, desperately wants to go back to work. When a former classmate offers her a job in his law firm, she is looking for a nanny. Miriam with her arabic roots definitely does not want a North African nanny for her children. Then comes Louisa, a blonde widow over 40 and perfect. Soon Louise becomes an indispensable part of the family ...
Theme and genre:
This psychological thriller is about modern parenting, the difficult job of nannies, the complex place they have in the family they work for. This novel also shows how class and race can influence the whole life of a person.
Myriam, happy mother of two, with the months as a housewife passing, falls into a serious depression. Back in the law firm, she works on her carrier, often overhours, and sometimes feels bad about it. She also prefers to neglect small signs that should alert her.
For Paul it was normal to earn the money for his family and their privileged upper-class life. He wants to share part of it with Louisa. For him too, Louisa is the perfect nanny and when Myriam begins to be worried, he is convinced that she just overreacts.
Louisa loves the children and wants to be needed and be part of the family.
Plot and writing style:
The book begins with telling the end, but this does not make the story less gripping. As reader you try to scan every sentence for hints, how and when things changed and led to what happened.
Leila Slimani is a captivating storyteller, switching between persons and their memories and descriptions of the life in Paris, comparing the different living conditions, while moving the plot forward.
A disturbing psychological thriller about the problems of mothers reconciling job and family and the questions of every parent, if the nanny their children grow up with can really be trusted. A dark, gripping page-turner.