Book Review: The Perfect Nanny

"She's so perfect, so delicate, that sometimes it sickens me," says music producer Paul Massé to his lawyer wife Myriam at one point in Leila Slimani's The Perfect Nanny. The "she" here is Louise, a forty-something doll-like woman who they had hired to be in charge of their two kids Adam and Mila. At first it's all perfect. The children adore her, and even the couple, given their demanding work schedules, marvel at her ability to manage the kids, their kitchen and in short, just about everything. But as Louise becomes more and more indispensable in the household, insinuating herself in unwelcome ways, things begin to take a turn for the sinister as her real side ever so slowly comes to light, leaving the family to cope up with a tragic loss. Inspired by a 2012 case involving an Upper West Side nanny accused of killing two children under her care, Slimani moves the backdrop to a similarly upscale neighbourhood in Paris, while setting up a nightmarish tale of psychological unravelling that's as much a peek into the lonely life of a middle-aged woman as it's a timely story about class and entrusting your toddlers in other people's hands. A chilling page-turner!