Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Books - Re­view: Natalie Bowen

PLeila Sli­mani

Faber & Faber, pb £12.99; ebook, £9.99 arisian cou­ple Myr­iam and Paul rave to their friends about their nanny, Louise: their son and daugh­ter adore her, she cooks, and she keeps their home spot­less. But one day, Myr­iam comes home to find both chil­dren are dead.

Sli­mani’s book opens in the mid­dle, with this tableau — what fol­lows is the unique power dy­nam­ics of this pro­fes­sional menage a trois, when love and am­bi­tion be­come un­in­ten­tion­ally twisted, and how an idyl­lic ar­range­ment can turn com­pla­cently, and hor­rif­i­cally, wrong.

Sli­mani, a Moroc­can-French jour­nal­ist, fills her text with the racism, in­se­cu­ri­ties, thought­less­ness, ques­tion­able moral­ity and hypocrisy of the nanny trade, and Tay­lor’s trans­la­tion com­mu­ni­cates a sharp eye for de­tail that shows the per­fect sur­face of main­tained ap­pear­ances, while hint­ing at the un­con­sid­ered mys­ter­ies hid­den be­low.

This short novel — a mere 207 pages — is taut, grip­ping and slow-burn­ing, yet com­pletely ab­sorb­ing.

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