‘The Nanny Diaries’ sheds light on dark world

Leigh Gaston

“The Nanny Diaries,” co-written by New York’s dynamic duo, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, is an authentic ball-buster, exposing the harsh realities of NYC’s upper (in more ways that one) west side, and misconceptions about the supposed life of luxury.

Through the eyes of Nan (ironically referred to as Nanny), an intelligent, well grounded, not to mention overbooked child development major at NYU, the perils of nannydom are unfolded as she trudges from start to finish as New York’s most underappreciated nanny.

Mrs. X, Nanny’s brutal employer and Grayer’s mother, provides a plate full of humor accompanied by a side dish of sympathy, as she molds Nanny into her son’s surrogate mother and her own personal assistant. Kraus and McLaughlin create a hauntingly realistic stereotype of the wealthy New York housewife in their description of Mrs. X.

Defined by little more than the Prada pumps she models, Mrs. X lives to please her ungrateful husband Mr. X, from whom she’d be lucky to get a “hello” from, let alone a kiss goodbye. In between drinking Pellegrino and hosting dinner parties for Mr. X’s firm, Mrs. X is busy making epoch-length lists of expectations for Nanny regarding her precious son, Grayer. Ironically, Mrs. X spends more time writing lists than she does with Grayer.

Mr. X, the invisible father to Grayer, plays the ill-tempered workaholic who phones his wife only to inform her that he’ll be “working late.” Mr. X’s adaptation of “working late” serves as a wickedly funny private joke in “Nanny,” this one involving a hot young associate whom Nanny refers to as Ms. Chicago. Mr. X’s total disregard for his subservient wife, and his aloofness in relation to his own son deem him the grinch of “Nanny.”

Caught at the heart of all this dysfunction are Grayer and Nanny, the only two characters who seem to perceive the world beyond the posh walls of the X family loft. Nanny provides a stable environment for the neglected Grayer, while Grayer adds a touch of lightheartedness to the dreaded situation that arises when Nanny becomes involved in the X’s disintegrating marriage.

Whereas all the relationships in “Nanny” play a vital role, that of Nanny and Mrs. X is most defining. In a game of power and risk, Nanny struggles to maintain the sanity of the X’s only son without revealing the extent of her internal knowledge. Meanwhile, Mrs. X does her best to cover the endless tracks of deception hidden throughout the X penthouse apartment. After a chain of humorously macabre events, Nanny finds herself between a rock and a hard place, forced to choose between a little boy in desperate need of her love and her own mental health.

Nanny unquestionably lives up to its title as the No. 1 New York Times bestseller, reeking with humor and topped by a complementary scoop of intensity. Its sophisticated style and sarcastic tone will have you salivating for a sequel. Rest assured, pick up a copy of “The Nanny Diaries” and you’ll be well cared for.