The Nanny Diaries by Nicola Kraus & Emma McLaughlin

nanny St.Martin’s Griffin, 2003, 320 pages.

Who doesn’t love a nanny story? Screaming, tantrum-throwing kids, impossibly demanding employers (parents)–isn’t it nice to read about horror lives that are thankfully not yours?

While I loved Mary Poppins and the chim-chiminee guys–my utmost ‘exposure’ to babysitting in literary form go way way back in the early 90’s–the Babysitter’s Club.

Now from the simple, pleasant, peanut-butter-will-fix-it-all kid of babysitting of the Babysitter’s Club in Connecticut—we jump to the semi-memoir of  “Nanny” (thats the only name the central character is known in the book) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, present day.

It’s about her struggle to juggle finishing a degree, spending time with her own family, trying to have a relationship–and most of all, trying hard to please her employer, the very annoying perfectionist haute couture and organic loving Mrs.X. To top all that, there’s Mr.X’s mistress who haunts her day in and out.

Although the novel is filled with generalizations (about people, society,etc), it is highly entertaining and witty. The fun read is worth the annoyingly pushover characrter Nanny is. Just when you begin to root for her, she lets you down with her extreme passivity. (Just give Mrs. X Bith a dose of her own medicine now, will you??)

I’m glad it didn’t have a very cliche ending. I saw an interview of the 2 authors of the book, both of whom have actually been nannies in New York in the mid 90’s–when economy was such a boom in the US, hence the rise of posh non-working mothers who hire nannies to take care of their own children.

The movie adaptation disappoints thoroughly. But I loved the fabulous Laura Linney as Mrs. X.



Authors Nicola Kraus and Emma Mclaughlin were real life nannies for a time.


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