Blurb from Goodreads
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’s 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…
I only recently heard of Leïla Slimani when French president Emmanuel Macron gave her the position of Francophone affairs minister. The Morocco-born author won the prestigious Prix Goncourt literary award for her second novel, Chanson douce, which has now been translated into English and given the title Lullaby. It is known as The Perfect Nanny in the USA.
So I had to read this novel for myself and find out if I could believe the hype….
And I’m pleased to say that this absolutely lives up to it!!!
It is such an intelligently written book with such an insidious core that can only leave the reader completely chilled.
From the opening page we learn that children have been murdered by their nanny and the book then steps back in time to see how this horrific event unfolds. And not only is this a gripping thriller it is also a book with a great social commentary on how society views mothers, both stay at home and working, and it subtly explores racial tensions too.
And impressively all this is achieved in such a short space of time without seeming rushed or incomplete; this is a novel barely over 200 pages long!
I really don’t want to say any more about the details of the plot as everything is so perfectly paced in this book with each detail and reveal carefully placed in the storyline for the maximum chilling effect. And therefore I would not wish to taint the reading experience for anyone who wishes to read this by giving spoilers.
“In that room she lost all notion of time. She felt lost, crazed. The whole world had forgotten her. She would sleep for hours and wake up swollen-eyed, her head aching, despite the cold that seethed through the room. She only went out when she absolutely had to, when her hunger became too painful to ignore. She walked in the street as if it were cinema set and she were not there, and invisible spectator to the movements of mankind. Everyone seemed to have somewhere to go.”