July 31, 2012

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Title: The Nanny Diaries
Author: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Ships Launched: 811
Pages: 306
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Year Published: 2002
Genre: Comedy, Contemporary
Synopsis: 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 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 Hermès 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 has never failed to make me smile, no matter how many times I re-read it. The absurdities of the X family and the acts that Nanny goes to to please them are so hilarious and outrageous, one cannot help but chuckle.
And while the book is quite amusing, there is sweet little Grayer. He is so adorable, whether he’s locking Nanny out of the apartment or sitting on her lap, helping her turn pages of a book.
And yes, the book is funny and adorable, but it is also a bit disturbing. I know it is fiction, but I couldn’t help but wonder if people really lived like that. Do people really leave their children in the care of a nanny, go to the spa all day, and call it being a stay-at-home mom? Can husbands really care that little about their family? And how in the world can you treat someone the way that Mrs. X treats Nanny?
Of course, I know all these things are true in one way another. These things do happen. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Oh, sorry. Excuse my mini rant.
Aside from all of those disturbing bits, The Nanny Diaries really is an entertaining book. It’s not the most meaningful thing I’ve ever read, but not everything has to be meaningful! Everyone needs to be able to pick up good chick lit once in a while and have a good laugh.
Nanny’s grandmother was absolutely fantastic. Her wildness was admirable, and she didn’t let her age stop her from being young, if you know what I mean. She was very funny, but she was still kind. I would love to have her as a friend, even!
I love that not that many people have real names in this book. Or maybe they do. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. X are actually Mr. and Mrs. X, and maybe Nanny’s name is Nanny.
And let’s not forget Harvard Hottie. Oh my, he is wonderful. How does someone like him have such horrible friends?
If you want a light, humorous read that will make you smile (not to sound clichéd, or anything), I highly recommend The Nanny Diaries. The movie isn’t half bad, but Scarlett Johannson never was my favorite actress. And. The. Movie. Is. Different!
“But, Ahlorha,” you might say. “All movies are different from the book!”
“But, Readers. It was really different!” I would reply. “Really, really different!”
 Oh my, am I talking to our imaginary readers again?
            +36 – Grayer the Adorable – How can he be so cute and adorable with parents like that?
            +15 – Nanny’s Grandmother – So understanding… Even about the earmuffs! Kind of… (You’ll see, dear readers, you’ll see.)

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