The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

228333The cover of my copy of this book says it was called “DIABOLICALLY FUNNY” by The New York Times. I was expecting this book to be in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada, hysterically skewering the life of a rich woman’s nanny. But I guess the NYT and I don’t share the same sense of what’s funny and what’s just sad.

Starting out, I thought I was on the right track with this book. There’s a disclaimer before you read word one that makes it explicitly clear that, though it may have been inspired by actual events, everything that occurs within the book is purely fiction. This would seem necessary, given the subject matter and the presumed content of the book, but then you start reading and discover that the main character is called “Nanny” and the couple for which she begins working is called “Mr. & Mrs. X.” Why the disclaimer AND the anonymous characters names? It seems like only one or the other is needed, but not both. It definitely took me out of the moment while I was reading.

There were parts of it that made me laugh, but for the most part, I just felt sorry for everyone involved. I felt sorry for Nanny as she gets sucked further into this bizarre world and doesn’t have the backbone to speak up, since unlike the main character in Prada, a rec from Mrs. X would really have no bearing on her future. I felt sorry for Mrs. X as realized the reality of her life and who she had become. I felt sorry for the kid who was stuck in a horrific childhood experience and is powerless in his parents’ power struggle.

As the book wore on, it became less funny and more uncomfortable. I didn’t feel as if the parents and their lifestyle were being so much skewered for comedic effect, but simply held up to the light to see their ugliness (as if we weren’t already aware). There was a romance thrown in as well, but it wasn’t developed enough for me to even keep up with it. It was like in one chapter they met for a drink and she barely knew anything about him and then in the next chapter, they were talking about his schedule as it would affect them as a couple. Very strange.

Overall, I was really disappointed by this book. It was just not what I expected it to be.