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The Nanny Diaries: A Novel Paperback – March 18, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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 Xes...here 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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm sorry, but I couldn't continue reading the unfunny attempts to show the plight of poor Nanny and her degrading tasks. Read morePublished 2 days ago by AnneM
One young woman to take care of four-year-old boy. Must be cheerful, enthusiastic and selfless--bordering on masochistic. Read more
good book, a bit disturbing look into the life of high society and the nannies perspective, but a good read.Published 5 months ago by Andi Reed-Lenane
sure got a look at how some people with money live & what the expect....Published 6 months ago by M. Holecek
I have had this book for many years but never got around to reading it. I could not stand Mr. And Mrs. X but loved Nanny's compassion to their child.Published 9 months ago by Allison Schrecengost
Did you even read the book? You are more interested in 'the package'. How trite. Maybe this will look good on your book shelfPublished 9 months ago by JLH
It is a page turner in that I read it quickly but the only part I liked was the beginning. The Nanny begins to be less sympathetic and more pathetic as the book continues. Read morePublished 10 months ago by vesme