The Nanny Diaries: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Nicola Kraus
This Study Guide consists of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Nanny Diaries.
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The Nanny Diaries: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

The Nanny Diaries: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on The Nanny Diaries: A Novel by Nicola Kraus.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus was a New York Times Bestseller for many weeks in 2002. Part of the pop genre, chick lit, The Nanny Diaries is about the experiences of a college girl, Nan, as she nannies for a wealthy family on the upper east side of Manhattan. The main characters in The Nanny Diaries have names that suggest this story is the prototype of the New York City nanny situation. The main character's name is Nan, or Nanny as her charges call her, and she is a nanny. The family that she works for are Mr. and Mrs. X, and the protagonist refers to her boyfriend as H.H. (for Harvard Hottie).

Nan gets hired by Mrs. X after a chance encounter at the park. During the interview, Mrs.X suggests that her current nanny, Caitlin, will need to cut back her hours for personal reasons. Nan soon discovers that Mrs. X is firing Caitlin because she asked for time off to travel to see her sister who is ill. Even though Nan—who is a NYU senior—has agreed to two afternoons a week, she is soon at Mrs. X's house looking after Grayer and running errands nearly every day of the week.

As the year progresses, Mrs. X relies more and more on Nan to take care of Grayer and complete projects, plan events and manage many tasks that Mrs. X should be doing herself. While Nan is juggling a full workload with the X family, she is also trying to finish her semester at NYU and her senior thesis project on child development. She also meets her H.H. who lives two floors about the X family. Nan struggles to balance her full life, but always she puts Grayer's needs and the X family first. Nan's friends and family warn her of the dangers of working so many hours for Mrs. X, who is treating Nan worse and worse.

Tension is building between Nan and Mrs. X. Nan is getting more and more resentful of being taken advantage of and of Mrs. X coming home late, often causing Nan to be late to classes. Also, Nan is frustrated that Mrs. X wants so little to do with her son, Grayer. Though Nan considers leaving the job, she stays because of her relationship with the little boy, Grayer.

Nan discovers that Mr. X is having an affair with a colleague in Chicago. Soon his mistress is also asking Nan to run errands for her. As tension mounts between Mr. and Mrs. X, Nan and the new mistress, the X family takes a vacation to Nantucket. They ask Nan to accompany them to help with Grayer. While in Nantucket Mr. and Mrs. X fight, rely on Nan to watch all of the children of their friends, and Mr.X's mistress continually calls and Nan is asked to field them. Nan is faced with the moral dilemma of keeping Mr. X's secret.

After a rough night of watching all of the children of Mr. and Mrs. X's friends outside of a restaurant, and a massive fight between Mr. and Mrs. X, all Nan wants to do is to go back to the city so that she can pack and look for a new apartment. She asks Mrs. X if she can leave one night early and Mrs. X fires her, telling her to leave right then. Nan has to face what she has been avoiding the entire story: abandoning Grayer. She leaves in the night without being able to say goodbye.

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