Former nannies and close friends Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin teamed up to offer readers an insider's look at New York's Park Avenue residents and their progeny in The Nanny Diaries. The satire skewers these self-aggrandizing, pompous parents who seem to have little, if any, time to raise their own children but plenty of time to criticize everyone else who tries.
The novel opens with a description of the interview process. "The initial encounter became as repetitive as religious ritual," describes Nanny, the protagonist and narrator. The potential employers are virtual carbon copies of one another: "She is always tiny. Her hair is always straight and thin...she is always wearing expensive khaki pants, Chanel ballet flats, a French striped T-shirt, and a white cardigan." From the moment the door opens, Nanny feels as if she is at a distinct disadvantage, having less than perfect hair and attire. Nanny must convey to the prospective employer that caring for her child would be "a privilege" rather than a job. Once she is hired, Nanny is given the grand tour which is intended to put her in her place: below her employers. Most humorous, however, is the list of rules presented to Nanny by her new employer. It includes not only the child's allergies but a list of likes and dislikes and a list of forbidden foods. The interview-slash-audition ends with an introduction of Nanny to the child. And then the actual work begins.
Nan describes three kinds of "nanny gigs." The first kind provides "couple time" in the evenings for parents who both work all day. The second gig allows the parents "sanity time" for mothers a few afternoons each week. Finally, the third kind allows round-the-clock "me time" for mothers who simply cannot be bothered to raise their own children but has no discernible job or responsibilities.
Nanny's adventures begin when she posts a flyer advertising herself at the Parents League. She is fairly confident that the other advertisements, riddled with grammatical errors, will be no competition. On her way home, she quite literally runs into a family who is looking for a nanny. Mrs. X takes her contact information and Nan's fate, it seems, is sealed.
Initially, Mrs. X seems to be a well-adjusted mother who had seemingly humble beginnings and went to the University of Connecticut on scholarship. Neither overbearing nor terribly judgemental at first, Nan believes that she has stumbled upon an ideal situation. As she will learn, Nan could not be more wrong about this. At their first meeting, Grayer, Mrs. X's son, is not as taken with Nan as his mother is and is determined to challenge her.
The list of Grayer's after school activities is comical; a high school senior would be hard pressed to maintain such a demanding schedule. Particularly amusing is the fact that the Mommy and Me classes out to really be...
(The entire section is 1165 words.)