Nanny #1. Author: Emma McLaughlin.
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 is, theoretically, comedy. And when I flipped through the first few pages, they read like comedy – so that’s what I went into it expecting. It became rapidly less amusing as I went off, shifting from funny to merely stressful and finally to ‘why the heck aren’t you getting out of there, Nanny??’ There was nothing remotely funny about the second half of the book, as Nanny struggles to keep everything together on less and less sleep. The family she works for is falling apart, from the attention-starved child to the mother desperate to get her husband back, her own job is rapidly deteriorating as she’s called upon for more and more duties and extra hours, and somehow – in the middle of all this – she’s still finishing up school.
There’s no real triumph or completed character arc at the end.
Sexual Content: “It is simply impossible to imagine her doing anything so undignified as what was required to get her pregnant in the first place.” / Speaking of a difficult baby-sitting job, the character says “Nothing I do with my clothes on is going to pay this well until I get my degree.” / “I realize from their glazed smiles that they’ve just cast me in every nanny-themed porn film ever screened in their frat-house basement.” In keeping with that, the students go on to ask if she’s slept with the father – upon which she’s very insulted. / Nanny comes upon the husband in his office, apparently making out, with a woman not his wife. / Character at a party refuses the frat-boys’ ‘gracious offers of quick oral sex”. / “Tell your boss you found me here and all you’ll be doing is saving me the trouble of leaving behind a pair of panties.” This from the woman who is clearly ‘with’ the nanny’s employer’s husband.
Language: 40 F-words, 17 scatological terms, 7 a**h*le, 8 g*d***, 4 d***, 4 hell, 5 derogatory terms