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.