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The Nanny Diaries: A Novel
by Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus

Published: 2003-03
Paperback : 320 pages
4 members reading this now
7 clubs reading this now
7 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members

Wanted:
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 ...

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Introduction

Wanted:
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.

Written by two former nannies, The Nanny Diaries deftly punctures the glamour of Manhattan's upper class.

Editorial Review

The Nanny Diaries is an absolutely addictive peek into the utterly weird world of child rearing in the upper reaches of Manhattan's social strata. Cowritten by two former nannies, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the novel follows the adventures of the aptly named Nan as she negotiates the Byzantine byways of working for Mrs. X, a Park Avenue mommy. Nan's 4-year-old charge, the hilariously named Grayer (his pals include Josephina, Christabelle, Brandford, and Darwin) is a genuinely good sort. He can't help it if his mom has scheduled him for every activity known to the Upper East Side, including ice skating, French lessons, and a Mommy and Me group largely attended by nannies. What makes the book so impossible to put down is the suspense of finding out what the unbelievably inconsiderate Mrs. X will demand of Nan next. One pictures the two authors having the last hearty laugh on their former employers. --Claire Dederer

Excerpt

PROLOGUE
The Interview
Every season of my nanny career kicked off with a round of interviews so surreally similar that I'd often wonder if the mothers were slipped a secret manual at the Parents League to guide them through. This initial encounter became as repetitive as religious ritual, tempting me, in the moment before the front door swung open, either to kneel and genuflect or say, "Hit it!" ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think the characters are never assigned real names?

2. Considering the harsh and fickle treatment Nan receives from Mrs. X, why do you think she stays with the family?

3. What kind of person do you think Grayer will grow up to be?

4. Why do you think that Nanny told Mrs. X about Mr. X's mistress before she left for good? Was it to protect her or was it for revenge?

5. If you were Nanny's family (parents, grandmother, boyfriend) would you support her decision to work for the X's? Consider her almost missing her graduation, her time constraints with finding a new apartment, as well as her emotional health and unfair compensation.

6. Would you have spoken your mind on the teddy bear tape recorder before leaving the X's household for good? Why do you think Nanny erased her initial outburst? How long would you be able to hold your tongue if found in a comparable work situation?

7. If you had the money that the X's had and could enrich your child's life with exotic foods, violin lessons, private schooling and French classes, would you and why? What do you think is appropriate for a child and what crosses the line?

8. How much responsibility should a nanny take in raising her employer's child?

9. Do you think Nanny will stay in the child-care profession after this experience?

10. Do you think this book is depressing or hopeful? How much is realistic vs. imaginary (a stretch) in your opinion?

11. If you employ domestic help, has this book changed your dialogue and/or view of that relationship? What rules of nannying would you require if you were hiring someone to take care of your child?

12. Why do you think this book has struck a cord with readers at this time?


Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

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  "The secret life of Nannies on Park Ave"by lollygil (see profile) 11/05/09

A hysterical fun book.

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