Culture Street

Books

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

On February 6, 2018

By Sophia Whitfield

How much of your life should you share with your nanny?

In her novel Slimani examines a young family who take on a nanny to lift the burden of childcare.

Parisians Myriam and Paul have two young children and high-powered jobs. Paul works in the music industry and Myriam as a lawyer, she is sure she will soon make partner. When they begin to discuss hiring a nanny they take care in the interview process and turn down applicants they consider not appropriate.

When Louise arrives, both Myriam and her children are immediately drawn to her. She is a widow who wears her blonde hair in a bun, her dress is longer than necessary and her Peter Pan collar denotes a primness Myriam finds attractive in a nanny.

Myriam and Paul welcome her into their home. As well as caring for the children Louise often cooks meals for the family. The couple host dinner parties catered for by Louise and Myriam and her friends rave about Louise’s skill in the kitchen.

As time goes on Myriam stops apologising for being late. Louise seems perfectly happy to stay until they get home, however late that might be. But as time marches on Myriam begins to feel Louise’s presence an intrusion into their lives. There are warning signs that things are not quite as they seem. When Myriam attempts to discuss her concerns with Louise she shuts down and is non-responsive.

Myriam has begun to rely so much on Louise’s help that she feels trapped, not wanting to give up the nanny and her hard-earned career.

Slimani deftly transforms the unassuming Louise into something quite terrifying, every mother’s nightmare.

The book will leave you feeling quite unnerved. You can buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.

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