Synopses & Reviews
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 pre-schooler
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 Hermes 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.
When the Xs marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Her tenure with the X family becomes a nearly impossible mission to maintain the mental health of their four-year-old, her own integrity and, most importantly, her sense of humor. 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.
The Nanny Diaries deftly skewers the manner in which America's over-privileged raise les petites over-privileged as if grooming them for a Best in Show competition. Written by two former nannies, this alternately comic and poignant satire punctures the glamour of Manhattan's upper class.
"[D]iabolically funny....[The] heroine...is a vastly entertaining narrator and impromptu social critic....This book is saved from self-righteousness not only by the authors' cleverness but also by their compassion." Janet Maslin, The New York Times Book Review
"[T]he details, devastating as they are, ring true, making this [book]...impossible to put down." Vogue
"First-novelists and former nannies McLaughlin and Kraus get the details right: in acid asides, they limn the decor, trendy therapies, and the pretensions of social-climbing Manhattanites....Sometimes farcical, largely sincere and ultimately trivial." Kirkus Reviews
"[T]he wicked fascination of this novel lies in all the wacky tidbits about life in the social stratosphere....[V]ery funny..." New York Magazine
"[T]he novel thoroughly skewers the privileged few, but beyond the satire, readers will care greatly for Nanny, poor Grayer, and even Mrs. X....Some minor characters need fleshing out and a subplot involving Nanny's romance with an Ivy League student is left dangling, but finally this is a fast-paced, witty, and thoroughly entertaining tale." Beth Warrell, Booklist
"[A] comic yet affecting novel of manners, or serious lack thereof. The engaging, almost addictive book...has quickly become a phenomenon....The book is Mary Poppins meets Bonfire of the Vanities meets Sex in the City, without the sex but with all the Italian leather accessories." Karen Heller, The Philadelphia Inquirer
"[A]n amusingly cutthroat novel....Some of these episodes are hilarious....And some are horribly sad....Looking through Nan's eyes into the lives of Manhattan's rich is a lot of fun she's biting." Library Journal
"[A] tart, lively, and genuinely openhearted debut....The Nanny Diaries is a sharply barbed comedy of manners....McLaughlin and Kraus are largely sympathetic to the children (who can't, after all, be blamed for the sins of their clueless parents), but they spare little mercy for monster moms and dads like Mr. and Mrs. X....[D]espite the fact that McLaughlin and Kraus have both worked as nannies, it's clear that The Nanny Diaries is a work of fiction. The characters are too broad and exaggerated and wincingly funny to be 100 percent true to life." Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com
A satirical glimpse into Manhattan's upper class follows Nanny, a struggling NYU student who takes a position caring for the son of the rich and glamorous X family, as she learns how to juggle a vast array of tasks so that a Park Avenue wife never has tolift a well-manicured finger.
A poignant satire and runaway New York Times bestseller, The Nanny Diaries punctures the glamour of Manhattan's upper class to reveal the truth behind the Park Avenue veneer. Be sure to stock the shelves with the country's favorite Nannies!
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 geting 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 employer's Hermes 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.When the X's marriage begins to disintegrate, Nanny ends up involved way beyond the bounds of human decency or good taste. Her tenure with the X family becomes a nearly impossible mission to maintain the mental health of their four-year-old, her own integrity, and, most important, her sense of humor. 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.
About the Author
Nicola Kraus and Amme McLaughlin write together in New York City.
Reading Group Guide
1. Why do you think the characters are never assigned real names?
2. Considering the harsh and fickle treatment Nan receives from Mrs. X, why do you think she stays with the family?
3. What kind of person do you think Grayer will grow up to be?
4. Why do you think that Nanny told Mrs. X about Mr. X's mistress before she left for good? Was it to protect her or was it for revenge?
5. If you were Nanny's family (parents, grandmother, boyfriend) would you support her decision to work for the X's? Consider her almost missing her graduation, her time constraints with finding a new apartment, as well as her emotional health and unfair compensation.
6. Would you have spoken your mind on the teddy bear tape recorder before leaving the X's household for good? Why do you think Nanny erased her initial outburst? How long would you be able to hold your tongue if found in a comparable work situation?
7. If you had the money that the X's had and could enrich your child's life with exotic foods, violin lessons, private schooling and French classes, would you and why? What do you think is appropriate for a child and what crosses the line?
8. How much responsibility should a nanny take in raising her employer's child?
9. Do you think Nanny will stay in the child-care profession after this experience?
10. Do you think this book is depressing or hopeful? How much is realistic vs. imaginary (a stretch) in your opinion?
11. If you employ domestic help, has this book changed your dialogue and/or view of that relationship? What rules of nannying would you require if you were hiring someone to take care of your child?
12. Why do you think this book has struck a cord with readers at this time?