It’s August, the month where we explore and celebrate Women in Translation. I recently finished reading the English translation Lullaby, of the french book originally titled as Chanson douce by Leila Slimani. This award winning thriller gave me goosebumps and left me in a mood to read more translated works by the author.
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
I picked this up for two reasons. First I wanted to read a book by a Women in Translation and second this one particularly picked my interest as it also won the Prix Goncourt 2016 Award.
BASED ON THE MANHATTAN MURDER CASE
The part that gave the most goosebumps was the fact that this story was based around the Manhattan Murder Case that took place in 2012. I kept going back to listen to their trials and felt ever so sorry for such a cruel end to these adorable kids.
While the book does let you understand what led the nanny to act this way, I am grateful the parents were given justice and the Nanny is behind bars for life.
THE CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY
The bad news is conveyed right in the first sentence of this book, so there is no such suspense of what happened and who did it through out the story. Instead what Leila does portray is the “Why” of something like this that happened.She tries to portray the criminal psychology behind acting on these evil plans they conjure in their head.
Another quite interesting part this book highlights is how lonely the nanny felt. She was a white woman working as a Nanny, a job role mostly assumed to be done by Immigrants. Her mother was a Nanny too, and she was always looked at differently, given leftovers and old clothes. The second class treatment as a child added up with living with a mindset of not being a part of the wider society even though born white, which indeed is quite thought provoking. Another aspect it touches is the job policies of being a nanny and the unfair expectations that are set towards this particular job profile.
THE RESULT OF NEGLIGENT PARENTS?
While the act of killing the kids so brutally is so sinister and no human in their right mind would take such steps. I was still left feeling so uncomfortable at times, especially when I had thoughts like – “Maybe continuing with your career after a kid isn’t worth the risk” or “Maybe this is the result of being a negligent parent”. But is it really?
There are a lot of scenes where Myriam is portrayed as a parent that is ambitious and finds being a stay at home mom boring and wants to focus on her career as a lawyer too. Not that she doesn’t like her children. She loves coming home to them and spending time with them too. So is it wrong that she wants to balance her career and lifestyle goals together. After finishing the book, I do not feel so. It isn’t right to think this is what happens when you’re a negligent parent. Because, Myriam was not negligent in any sense but a working parent with dreams that endured such an unfortunate tragedy.
RATING : 3.0/5.0
Overall, this book gave me goosebumps and left me feeling more cautious of the things I talk front of people especially the ones that are in the background and not in the forefront of my visual memories. What starts out as a graphic thrilling crime novel ends up with such an important after thought!
Pages : 228
Genre : Thriller , Crime
Translated By : Sam Taylor
Publisher: Penguin Books
Published on : January 9th 2018. (first published August 18th 2016)