“The Perfect Nanny” exploits working mothers’ fears

1 month ago

The Perfect Nanny. By Leïla Slimani. Translated by Sam Taylor. Penguin; 240 pages; $16. Published in Britain as “Lullaby”. Faber and Faber; £12.99.

LEÏLA SLIMANI is a young Moroccan-born journalist based in Paris. Her first novel, about a woman who becomes addicted to sex as relief from her stifling bourgeois life, was compared to “Anna Karenina” and “Madame Bovary”. Her second won the Goncourt prize in 2016. This month it comes out in English.

Like her first work, inspired by the sex scandal that felled Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French political grandee, “The Perfect Nanny” is also based on a true story, about a nanny who murders her small charges. Myriam Massé is a promising young lawyer who embraces motherhood but finds domesticity suffocating. Her husband, Paul, does not want his children brought up by immigrants. “Not too old, no veils and no smokers.” The family lives in a handsome building in the tenth arrondissement in Paris, “where…