THE DIARY OF AN AMERICAN AU PAIR by Marjorie Leet Ford
Genre: Fiction and Literature
How Acquired: BookCrossing
Reading Began: February 9, 2005
Completed Reading: February 14, 2005
Overall rating: Six out of ten
Recommendation to others: This doesn’t quite have the same “punch” as The Nanny Diaries, and its similar title is distracting as you first begin to read, but The Diary of an American Au Pair is enjoyable on a quieter, slower level and fully rewarding almost to the end.
Why I chose to read this book: I suppose I was drawn to it after The Nanny Diaries, and its setting of the United Kingdom certainly added to my interest. Having worked as a nanny for a (not quite brief enough) period in my early 20s, I just feel a connection to stories about this world. Misery loves company, I’m sure.
Comments: Had it not been retitled at its subsequent publishing, I think it would have been more impactful from the first chapter. Something about the title Do Speak As We Do says all you really need to know at the onset. It sets the mood and gives the reader an indication of the world in which the protagonist will be housed. Still, it takes only a few pages to dive into the heart of the story, and the tale moves quickly and freely to the finish. It is not a funny story, as was Diaries, but there is great humor to be found in its subtlety. Whether you’ve experienced the life of a nanny or not. I was especially impressed with the way each supporting character was developed to their fullest potential, at least in the scope of the story as it was being told in first person, that of the au pair. My only disappointment came in the ending. I suppose, again, Nanny Diaries spoiled me, because I wanted to see justification, great emotional upheaval, something wicked and bitter. The resolution is none of these things, but it is in keeping with the spirit of the main character, so there is no fault to be laid. And though it was a bit tidy, with regards to the au pair, the book does not suffer for its ending. It simply ends. And I was happy to have had the journey.
I know a lot of people, like Freud, say that the first word that comes out, unchecked, is what you really mean. Ah-hah! I think they’re wrong! Maybe when you state a problem, to yourself, you hedge a little by using the wrong words at first, so that if you’re going to face it, you face it slowly—giving yourself a choice about whether to look it in the eye. I want to look this problem in the eye, by slowly working out the right words. Chapter 50 (pp. 323-324)