Published March 16th 2003 by St. Martin’s Griffin.
Confession: I’ve known of The Nanny Diaries but only this past month have I watched the movie and read the book. And I have to say, I loved both. (I’m not a huge Scarlett Johansson fan but I am of Chris Evans.) Both were funny and fascinating at the same time.
This was extra fun for me because I spent some time in New York and the place where I was staying was a few blocks away from Park Avenue, the main setting of this novel. Everyday, I walked Museum Mile and Central Park and I see nannies with their charges pushing strollers, wiping little faces, and toting around diaper bags. In fact, the address “2nd and 93rd” was mentioned towards the end and I had to laugh. I knew that area well.
But enough of NYC and me. The book is about Nanny, a twenty-something whose job is to take care of the children of Park Avenue moms. Her newest charge is Grayer, a sweet and energetic four-year-old. Mrs. X is Nanny’s new employer and Grayer’s mom. The book documents Nanny’s experiences and observations from her first day to her last day with the Xes.
It was like an extended “day in the life of Nanny”. Each chapter is a different episode. A diary, of sorts. Nanny tells the reader about her different experiences with Grayer. And also, the horrors of working with the Xes. Having watched the movie before reading the book, I had the image of Laura Linney as Mrs. X in my head. It made it easier to connect with her, as neurotic and impossible Mrs. X seemed off the page. Do people like that exist for real? I often wondered, as I was reading, what Mrs. X really thought of Grayer. And of Nanny. What was going on in her head as she relaxed at a spa while her kid is off somewhere with hired help? The way she came across as cold and self-centered outraged yet intrigued me at the same time.
It was also great to know that the authors were former nannies themselves. Now, I wonder if this is what they really want to say to their former employers. Haha! The stories never got boring. Yes, some were repetitive but it came across as setting up a routine for Nanny and the reader followed along with her. Grayer is such a sweet kid. And I honestly felt sorry for him at times. All he wanted was his mommy. Sure, he liked Nanny but he knew she would go away eventually. And the one person who should’ve been there for him was never there. Poor kid.
Now, if I had to compare the book to the movie, I have to say I preferred the movie. Not because of a certain actor. I just felt that the movie had a more satisfying ending. It was still narrated by Nanny but it gave a bit of a leeway to explain what happens to Mrs. X after Nanny leaves their family. I would’ve wanted to see more “episodes” from the book translated to the screen but I could see how it would become redundant.
Then, shortly after watching the film, I saw the book’s sequel Nanny Returns on sale at my local Ralphs. Yes, I picked it up and I cannot wait to read it!
Recommendation: I admit, if not for Chris Evans, I wouldn’t have watched the movie. But I’m glad I saw it because it pushed me to finally read this book. It’s light and funny. And if you’re like me – I love New York to pieces – then you’ll enjoy this too.
Get your copy here.