I never knew nannies in New York have job, other than child-rearing, like a personal assistant. Receiving errand one after the other. Trying to make the ends meet. They were also expected to be a governess, to do dry cleaning and to fetch for a restaurant reservation. They are not just to fill the gaps of parenting but they are likely to be considered as the parents. As the looks of it, almost all of them are even underpaid.
Mrs. X, a demanding, careless mother and have grown mindless to her son’s existence, is in need for a nanny to Grayer, a bubbly and sometimes snobby four-year old kid. She then hires Nan, a senior college student at NYU who can’t finance her education and living and thus resolves to make money by childcare.
As Nan gets admitted to the job, she is then bombarded with countless tasks and is invited to numerous events. At once in a halloween custome party, Nan finds out that Mr. X is having an affair with another woman. Afraid of being involved to a rotten marriage, she figures she should quit but the thought of leaving Grayer in the middle of a dillemma is unbearable. Everyday, Nan tries to juggle Mrs. X’s endless tasks and raising Grayer. “But to do it well is to lose it”.
Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, both former nannies, have collaborated in more or less thirty families to work on this novel. People who have ventured to the Manhattan and the former Nannies confirmed and praise the total truth on what the novel has to offer. Although not all but there are families who are like the X’s, which makes this novel an embarrasing slap on their faces.
The novel starts as Nan having an interview with her employer, Mrs. X. A prologue that tells us how Nan’s life will be in the X’s apartment. Upon reading Nan’s narration, we can see how amusing this book will be.
There will be no trouble understanding the story for it is wonderfully written. The authors style of hopping to scene by scene seamlessly is incredible. It is like of movie script and it is not surprising that it has been adopted for a movie. The novel is entirely funny, filled with complains from Mrs. X’s demands that reminds us how Andrea Sachs’s life have been in The Devil Wears Prada.
Before my review misleads you, Mrs. X is not entirely cruel. She is like Grayer who needs constant attention and like Grayer has been deprived of such need. Her husband is always away and just comes back once or twice a week. Even in such time, they are hardly have time to talk. Mrs. X’s bad esteem and mood is chanelled to Grayer or Nan. This makes Nan’s job even harder.
The best thing about the book is the warm and tear-jearky scenes from Nan and Grayer’s relationship. They have grown fond of each other (and so am I) that Grayer, at some point, prefers Nan over his mother. Their attachment have grown to a sister-brother relationship that it is saddening to witness them separated. It breaks my heart to see Grayer pleading for her mother and father’s attention and most of time ended up being rejected.
“It is one long anecdote disguised as a novel,” F Macias-Mossman revealed from her review on goodreads. I can’t agree more. The novel is just a series of events with no logical order. All events requires equal interest that it made them flat. The ending is not satisfying and is thoroughly disappointing. The book left out what is to learn through the experience.
However, despite of its paper-thin plot, I have no regrets in reading the book. It is entertaining in any view you can look at and as personal as a diary can be.
Unlike the book, the movie adaptation offers a great deal of satisfaction. Although not as funny as the book can be, the film offers a more coherent sequence of the events. The film deviates some facts from the book to give the plot more depth and I should say, it is done well.
In the film, we can see innovative ideas that the book fails to offer. The narration of the protagonist made the film looks like a field study and sync it to be more like a diary. All of these benefits are offered at the expense of Nan and Grayer’s relationship. They are not as intimate in the book. That is, I’m afraid, done because of the time constraints.
PS: I have merged the book and movie review because I am having writer’s mood. Sorry about that.