When The Nanny Diaries was first published in 2002, the term “chick lit” was just gaining ground. Hot on the heels of Bridget Jones and the Shopaholic series, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus drew from their experiences as nannies and put their own spin on the burgeoning genre, laying bare the seedy side of childrearing in the Big Apple. The novel was a hit, shooting to the top of bestseller lists across the country and spawning a feature film.
Now, in Nanny Returns, McLaughlin and Kraus revisit Nan 12 years after her disastrous fallout with the loathsome X family. Nan is blissfully married to her Harvard Hottie . . . that is until their return to New York kicks his desire to become a daddy into high gear. The problem? Nan isn’t sure that motherhood is for her. And between starting her own consulting business and trying to get their fixer-upper home in Harlem actually fixed up, Nan’s hands are full. As if that weren’t enough, one night Grayer X, now 16, shows up at her door, and before she knows it, the past is rearing its ugly head and Nan is once more tangled in the insidious web of the Xes.
Sequels can be tricky, but fans of the original will likely find this reunion as amusing and diverting as the first. It’s interesting to see where all the characters have ended up, and the situations Nan faces in her attempts to navigate the Upper East Side as well as the Xes manage to be outlandish yet believable, given what we know of the characters and the world they inhabit. Nanny Returns once more relies on the combination of humor and heartbreaking truth that made the first installment of this series so successful, and McLaughlin and Kraus do a good job of examining the ways in which the rich are truly poor, as well as Nan’s attempts to make peace with her past.
In the end, despite a bumpy road, Nanny Returns affords Nan—not to mention fans of the series—the closure she’s been looking for.
Stephenie Harrison writes from Nashville.