Farmer Fiction: ‘The Perfect Nanny’ fosters new aspect of crime fiction

Recently translated into English, novel differentiates from standard crime fiction plots

Courtesy of Penguin Books.

Courtesy of Penguin Books.

The Perfect Nanny” was published three years ago in France on Aug. 18, 2016 and awarded author Leila Slimani with the Goncourt Prize, which is France’s most prestigious literary award. This was a refreshing contrast to the usual middle-aged white men who receive this award, making Slimani the face of French literature in present times.

English versions of the book were released in the later half of 2017 and quickly began trending among bibliophiles.

The book illustrates the story of a Parisian family and their encounter with a deranged nanny who commits an unspeakable crime.

Within several months after her second child is born, Miriam is offered a job from a law firm she left on hiatus to become a full-time mother after having her first child. After deciding to return to work, she and her husband Paul decide to hire a nanny.

Then comes Louise, a 40-year-old woman with doll-like features who is willing to commute and work long hours; she’s also good with the couple’s daughter Mila and infant son Adam. Louise is seemingly perfect. She sings to the children, turns the couple’s small apartment in Paris’ tenth arrondissement and eventually takes much control of the household. However, things start to take a dark turn as the family discovers something is not quite right about the new nanny.

It’s easy to see why this award-winning crime novel would attract attention because the plot itself is terrifying and ignites curiosity toward what will happen to the family. The storyline keeps readers on their toes by pacing itself in a simple, slow style with hidden glimpses of darkness underneath the words. Slimani does an outstanding job in sending chills down readers’ backs without displaying any violence on the pages, except for the blood and gore in one particular scene at the opening of chapter one.

This psychological thriller could be compared to the novel “Gone Girl,” except “The Perfect Nanny” executes a more subtle suspense rather than the fast-paced action “Gone Girl” is chock full of.

Slimani creates an opposite approach different from most authors to developing her characters. She writes about her characters in a way where the readers get to know them but never fully reach past the exterior. Normally, this would be a negative approach for readers who want to connect to the characters, but in “The Perfect Nanny,” this seems to work. It keeps an air of mystery around the main characters which leaves readers to actively think about the characters and the plot.

“The Perfect Nanny” is essentially a thrilling and suspenseful book that will appeal to anyone looking to find a unique crime story. It’s not fast paced or action packed like the crime movies people usually watch, but is perfect for readers who prefer the type of story that builds up the suspense and wants to be chilled by the sinister undertone of the story.

Overall, the book deserves 9/10 stars for a unique twist on the usual crime stories and the ability to keep the reader entertained until the last page.