By the English author of A Case of Knives (1988), a more subtle bit
of nasty in which the narrator, a pregnant mother of a small boy,
discovers - almost too late - some lethal attributes of her
ever-so-efficient, country-bred nanny. Daisy, mistress of an estate
in one of England's gilded counties, wife of London eminence
Solomon (a jaunty shooting-and-club sort), has hired a nanny for
young son John. Margaret Pride, pretty, with excellent references,
was quite obviously not one to come forth in an interview with
chatter or confidences. But that seemed fine: "I had always
believed that simple people [read ordinary] have more hope of
virtue." Margaret wears a particularly pungent talc and is very
clean; she is also no siren: "Her legs ended in feet; there were no
ankles." Little John adores the nanny, although Daisy notes that
Margaret's taste in toys and stories runs to "whimsy and
dinkiness." However, as one of Daisy's women friends comments
(nannies are a constant source of amusing luncheon talk): "In the
end they usually go and the children love us and forget them."
Meanwhile, Daisy lolls away the days and expands, while Margaret,
oddly, begins to lose weight. "Pretty Margaret," murmurs John at
bedtime, after greeting Mummy with "fat, wicked queen." Dire things
are about to happen - and do - but the final crisis (with Margaret
being frogmarched off) is all too briefly, off-handedly noted. A
new twist to the Sinister Nanny plot - amusingly narrated in an
archly confiding drawl - but lacking the chill of suspense. (Kirkus
The arrival of a nanny for the son of Daisy and Solomon begins this
subtle novel of domestic horror. Daisy's existence is soon to
become the nightmare of a woman who allows herself to be pushed to
the limit, even when that means the loss of her home, her husband,
her children and even her life.
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