Book Review: Lullaby by Leïla Slimani

Lullaby - Leila Slimani

*This novel is also published as The Perfect Nanny*

This book had me wanting to read it after reading the first line of the synopsis!

Book Description:

The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.

When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.

The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered…

My Thoughts:

Let’s start at the beginning, the first chapter of Lullaby was absolutely brilliant, one of the best opening chapters I’ve read in a long time. And it set the tone for the entire novel – a raw and honest narration, a simple yet beautiful writing style that demands you pay attention.

During your read of this novel, you’ll be asking yourself so many questions, trying to figure out the parent’s justifications for not firing the nanny because you’re utterly convinced that in their situation you would have. This novel is rife with tension and you are constantly assessing the parent’s relationship, not only with each other but with their children too; the issues they address and those they choose to turn a blind eye to. But also, you are forced to look at wider society, the stigma, the judgement that may fall on a woman who works full-time instead of staying home with her children.

I’ve seen some mixed reviews for this novel, and I can understand why, it won’t be for everyone. You may have seen this book marketed as a literary thriller, but I think if you go into this book expecting that, you’ll be disappointed. It is, in my opinion, part literary fiction, part psychological drama – a novel addressing motherhood, the struggle in modern society of being a mother and maintaining a career, of wanting to be the best mother but wanting more than that too. What makes this novel so captivating is the darkness that surrounds it, the cold and distance narration, a narration that isn’t written to please but to deliver an honest account of one family who thought they hired the perfect nanny.

As you read this novel, you immediately know the “who”, it’s the “why” that keeps you turning pages. The ending isn’t clear cut, some may feel the book just ended and you’re left yearning for one more paragraph. But I really liked it, yes, the book just ended because the story has been told, there’s nothing else to say – the “why” is there, and it’s for you to ponder what actions could have prevented the tragedy that occurred.

A massive thank you to Sam Taylor for providing the translation, from the French, that allowed me to read this novel. Lullaby is a quick read, I read it in a couple of hours and from the opening sentence to the very last sentence, this short novel was a pleasure to read, I look forward to reading more from this author and I absolutely recommend it.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

17 thoughts on “Book Review: Lullaby by Leïla Slimani

  1. I have been humming and hah’ing about this one. I actually used to nanny and it’s a funny old thing. I get the dependence and saw it more than once between parents and nannies. You do rely on each other a lot. Plus, good nannies are hard to find and people have to work.

    Liked by 1 person

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