This is a perfect example of the kind of book I wouldn’t think to pick up if it weren’t on the list for an online book club I sometimes frequent. I knew it would be somewhat light and fluffy, but I also expected this very popular tale of a nanny in a wealthy Manhattan household to have a sort of nasty edge to it. Instead, I found it not only fun to read, but, in a way, sweet and a little sad as well.
The book is a novel, although it seems both the co-authors worked as New York nannies and are writing from a wealth of experience. The main character, who is just named Nanny (Nan to her family and friends), is a university student who finds a job as a caregiver for four-year-old Grayer. Grayer’s dad, Mr. X., works too much (and fools around on his wife when he isn’t working) so is rarely around. Mrs. X. doesn’t work at all, but needs a lot of “me time” so is also rarely around. Mrs. X. has moments when she seems almost human, but she so shamelessly takes advantage of Nanny and has so little emotional connection with Grayer that she’s extremely unlikeable.
My biggest stumbling block with books about rich people like the X’s is that I find it so hard to believe people like this really exist — yet many people who’ve read the book and worked in similar situations say it is frighteningly accurate. Which is just … frightening. It’s a glimpse into another world, one which most of us can be glad we don’t inhabit no matter how much money fuels it. Nanny’s view of this world from the perspective of the (under)paid help is funny, smart, and, yes, more than a little sad. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, even though it made me sad that there are children out there being “raised” by monsters like Mrs. X and a succession of nannies.