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Summary

The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds.

When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris' upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.

The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul's idyllic tableau is shattered.... 

©2018 Leïla Slimani (P)2018 Faber & Faber Ltd

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Grubby and ugly

I’d been eagerly anticipating this audiobook, given French and US reviews, but I really really didn’t like it.
It’s not a plot spoiler to say that from the outset you know it’s going to be a dark tale, but it’s unrelentingly grim, depressing and dull.
The translation is perfectly fluent and the narration is well pitched but everything is described in cold, clinical prose. And not a single character is likeable or sympathetic.
I can’t work out what it’s trying to be: it’s not a thriller, as nothing happens and it’s quite repetitive. Maybe it’s a rather skewed social commentary but there was no profound insight.
It’s just an ugly book with no redeeming features that has left me feeling grubby.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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So many inaccuracies

This book has achieved high acclaim in France.
This work begins after the murder of the children then delves back into the lives of the nanny and the parents to see what led to the events.
This does not read as a translation so all praise to Sam Taylor for a wonderful job in this respect. Moreover the narrative by Finty Williams was superb.
This is seriously far from a thriller It is a well written social commentary of day to day events in the life of a family.
The first half of the book shows how Myriam and Paul are happy to use and abuse their nanny. While telling themselves they are being kind to her they patronise and demean her. Myriam and Paul’s characters are not developed and they move in and out of the story without the reader having much insight into them. This is the same for other characters in the book. I felt this was written by someone far removed from the story I never felt Louise was alive in the story.
It is difficult to see why the parents did not see some of Louise’s behaviours as concerning but then they are focused on their own lives their work and Louise keeps the home and children ordered so they accept it. An example of this is bite marks Myriam discovers on her young son which is explained away by Louise the nanny and the mother just accepts it.
Overall I just felt extremely frustrated by this book as follows.
The ending was just flat with no satisfaction at all.
There are elements of this book which could not happen in real life despite its basis on a similar real life case in the USA in 2012.
When the supposed killer is in a coma the state will arrest her but then procedures stop until and unless the accused recovers. No investigation witness interrogation, Judge, trial can occur as the person accused of murder is not there present to defend herself. Yet all this is presented to the reader as what happened in this case.
Secondly are there no data protection laws in France? How is it possible for authorities to write to the employer of the nanny disclosing her financial irregularities without her consent? Then when given that information Myriam who is a solicitor did not tell Louise that she does not have to legally accept her husband’s debt which is the reason for her debt in the first place?
Overall this was a well written and well translated distant look at day to day family life without any thriller gripping elements with glaring inconsistencies in legal practices of any government
Personally it just left me confused and perplexed. I could not recommend it and will return it to Audible.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful