If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I love reading thrillers that are … well, not always pleasant. Death and gruesome imagery has never really bothered me, and I love anything that is depraved. It sounds really creepy, I know, but these novels are the unusual ones, the ones that stand out from the rest and capture my attention. The premise of this novel certainly did … so here is my review:
Synopsis (back of the book): When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.
Review: While I have classified this as a thriller, it is not fast-paced. It would be best to consider this a character study, as the novel is all about the relationship between Louise, the nanny, and the parents of the children she is taking care of – and how it all went wrong.
The very first chapter tells the reader the crime and who committed it: Louise is responsible for the murder of her two charges, Myriam and Paul’s children. What we don’t know is how things get to this point. That is what this novel is all about. The story is told from various perspectives, 2 major ones being Myriam, and Louise. We also hear from Paul, Myriam’s husband, the neighbour who alerted the police, the detective in charge of the case, and Louise’s daughter, Stephanie (I’m still unsure why the daughter’s perspective was included because she really didn’t play a part or add much to the story). As I mentioned, these other perspectives play a secondary role, as we mostly hear (and want to hear) from Louise and Myriam.
There is something eerie about this story. At first, all of the events that occur are very normal, about day-to-day things that need to be done around the house, and about how grateful Myriam feels in having Louise as a nanny. And Louise sounds perfect, and acts perfect…. too perfect. As I was reading, there was this uneasiness that settled over me, because I knew things wouldn’t last, that something was going to happen to tear everything apart. There is a lot of tension with each interaction, and it grows and grows until it finally bursts. And when that burst occurs, there is a frenzy of emotion and action that leads to the horrifying death of two children. The author’s ability to draw on that tension and create that strain is mind-blowing – this is what made this novel so appealing for me. I could not pull myself away from the words, the way that the quiet descriptions of events just barely covered the simmering tensions below. The writing was absolutely exquisite and it is so easy to feel drawn into the story.
From other reviews I’ve read, many people have been disappointed by the ending. I can understand why they feel that way, as I also wish the ending had been a bit more …. conclusive. There were quite a few things that weren’t answered and the leap from where the story was before the ending to where it concluded wasn’t nearly as seamless as it could have been. However, the ending didn’t ruin the wonderful experience I had reading this novel.
Overall, this is a compelling read with masterful writing and a lot of depth. If you like slow-burning stories with lots of tension, then this is a book that you must definitely try! I’m giving this a 4.5/5 stars!