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The Nanny Diaries: A Novel Hardcover – March 13, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Nanny Diaries is an absolutely addictive peek into the utterly weird world of child rearing in the upper reaches of Manhattan's social strata. Cowritten by two former nannies, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the novel follows the adventures of the aptly named Nan as she negotiates the Byzantine byways of working for Mrs. X, a Park Avenue mommy. Nan's 4-year-old charge, the hilariously named Grayer (his pals include Josephina, Christabelle, Brandford, and Darwin) is a genuinely good sort. He can't help it if his mom has scheduled him for every activity known to the Upper East Side, including ice skating, French lessons, and a Mommy and Me group largely attended by nannies. What makes the book so impossible to put down is the suspense of finding out what the unbelievably inconsiderate Mrs. X will demand of Nan next. One pictures the two authors having the last hearty laugh on their former employers. --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly

Two former Manhattan nannies blow the lid off of the private child-care industry with a hilarious debut that pulls no punches as it recounts the travails of Nan, a hip Mary Poppins looking for a job to fit around her child-development classes at NYU. Mrs. X seems reasonable enough when she hires Nan to look after her four-year-old son, Grayer, but she quickly reveals herself to be a monster a bundle of neuroses wrapped up in Prada, whose son is little more than another status symbol in a fabulous Park Avenue apartment. Mr. X is just as horrible, although he's rarely seen or heard, too busy navigating mergers and mistresses to make time for a family starving for his affection. Nan finds herself stuck in a low-paying job from which she can be fired on a whim, enduring a steady stream of condescension, indifference and passive-aggressive notes on Mrs. X's posh stationery. Against the advice of family and friends, she stays because of her devotion to Grayer but how long will it be before she explodes? The pages fairly crackle with class resentment that might have been more convincing if Nanny's own family weren't as comfortable, and the finale delivers more whimper than bang, but it's easy to forgive such flaws when everything else rings true. Especially impressive is the authors' ability to allow the loathsome Mrs. X occasional flashes of humanity and pathos. Required reading for parents and the women they hire to do their parenting. National advertising and author publicity. (Mar.)Forecast: With Julia Roberts doing the Random Audio version, and film rights already sold to Miramax, the sky's the limit for this thoroughly appealing title.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (March 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312278586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312278588
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,450 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,382,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The plot just dragged on and the ending was very disappointing.
Also, just me - I like a book at least to say something about something, even if it is breezy reading.
I recommend this book for a great summer read or something light, quick and fast.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

925 of 1,064 people found the following review helpful By Shaz on March 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
My sister-in-law was a nanny for several years, so when I saw this book, I had to get it for both of us. Every story she ever told me has unfolded in this 306 page book.
The authors, former nannies themselves, have a disclaimer at the front of the book stating that the characters written are completely ficticious and not based on any particular past employer. This must be why the main character's name is simply "Nanny", and her employers are "Mr. and Mrs. X". Nanny has just been hired by the wealthy Xes to look after their son Grayer. She is to replace the old nanny, who had the audacity to request a week off to visit her sick sister in Australia. Nanny is just looking to keep her rent money coming in while completing her senior year at NYC, but soon finds that she is drawn to poor little Grayer, who at times can be a pill, but for the most part is just a poor little rich kid who wants his parents to notice him. Mrs. X spends most of her time shopping, planning dinner parties (in the hopes that her absentee/workaholic husband just might spend time with them), and volunteering on several committees. Nanny is used to the explicit demands Mrs. X requests for Grayer, and is not surprised when Mrs. X constantly asks her to do extra chores she wasn't hired for (like picking up Mrs. X's dry cleaning, picking up about 12 different items for a 30 people dinner party, or even escorting Grayer and the Xes to a fancy executive Halloween bash dressed as a giant Teletubby- one of the funniest passages in the book). Or, she'll show up 2 hours past the time she told Nanny she'd be home, leaving Nanny little more than 15 minutes to get to a school to give a speech that will determine whether she passes or fails.
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97 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Jena Ball on April 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Nanny Knows It All
Although I expected this book to be funny, having heard that it delves deep into the quirks of New York's wealthy elite, I was not prepared for the feelings of indignation, dismay and embarrassment it evoked as well. Beneath the simple story line - a twenty something college student works as a nanny to pay the rent - lays a minefield of human dysfunction. There is the mother who can't stand to touch or be with her child for more than a few minutes, and only then if he is completely clean; the father who routinely fails to show up for preplanned family events such as trips to Aspen, Christmas parties and dinner parties; the father's mistress who tries to enlist Nanny in her secret trysts; and the father's secretary who is always covering for her boss. And that's just the immediate family. Things get even more complicated and uncomfortable as Nanny's duties are expanded to include helping the wife shop, run errands and make restaurant reservations. What saves the novel from becoming just another tawdry soap opera is the skillful development of the relationship between Nanny and her 4-year old charge Grayer, and the healthy reality checks provided by Nan's (Nannny) outspoken and eminently practical family.
Like all young children, Grayer can be a terror. He bites, he kicks, he refuses to play nicely, and at first he can't stand the sight of Nanny who has come to replace his previous and much loved caretaker, Caitlin. However, as time goes on Grayer and Nanny hammer out a relationship and a routine they both can enjoy. However, as the tension builds between Grayer's parents, becomes clear that a meltdown is inevitable. What makes it almost unbearable is Grayer's vulnerability and Nanny's inability to protect him. Be prepared for humor laced with bitterness and sorrow as The Nanny Diaries proves that in the midst of abundance it is possible to starve from lack of love.
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63 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Susan Shwartz on March 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm familiar with the terrain, the industry, and even some of the types that Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have so perceptively skewered in THE NANNY DIARIES. The perceptions and morality of their young protagonist strike me as being spot-on, but I wonder how perceptive she'd be if she weren't, both by education and ancestry, very close to being part of that world herself.
Along that line, I thought that the most poignant moments came in her descriptions of other nannies, less-advantaged, and with the exception of one, Sima, less-well-educated, and the terrible suppressed anger they feel.
I don't think this is a funny book. I think this is a superbly concentrated book about love and cruelty. "Nan" is not cruel; she's loving; and she's fortunate to have loving parents and a grandmother who can set her straight -- a gift she tries to pass onto her young charge Grayer, who really is quite charming and funny. His gift to her of a Valentine and his abiding affection for his prior nanny, Caitlin, were beautifully done.
But the is social satire at its most ferocious. The authors nail the requisite status symbols and the extravagance of the financial nouveaux (by the way, the lavender linen water really is very nice!). Their dialogue is marvelously nuanced, from the casual effrontery of Mrs. X, appropriating Nanny's life, to her notes, to the jargon-laden tranquilizing speech of the parasitical "problem-solving" professionals who cater to people like her, to the bluntness of Mr. X and his mother. And the writers contrast it with the parents who -are- parents, both in New York and on Nantucket, which remains a place where the old families are readily distinguishable from summer people.
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