McLaughlin, Emma 1964(?)-
McLAUGHLIN, Emma 1964(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1964. Education: Attended New York University.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
(With Nicola Kraus) The Nanny Diaries, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
ADAPTATIONS: The Nanny Diaries was abridged for audiobook by Random House, 2002. Film rights were sold to Miramax.
SIDELIGHTS: Emma McLaughlin and coauthor Nicola Kraus made a splash with their literary debut The Nanny Diaries, a novel about a modern-day Mary Poppins. Both McLaughlin and Kraus were nannies for elite New York City families while they pursued their college degrees. The complaining of parents about how hard it was to find good nannies "really hit a nerve for both of us," McLaughlin told Stephanie Swilley in a Book Page interview. The pair penned a fictionalized composite of their experiences with some thirty families over eight years. After the manuscript was turned down by several publishing houses because their satire was "too strident," Time's Belinda Luscombe reported, St. Martin's Press finally took the chance on it. The novel became a best seller: within several months of publication more than 500,000 copies were in readers' hands, and McLaughlin and Kraus were making the rounds of the talk-show circuit.
In The Nanny Diaries, the authors portray a Park Avenue family called X, whose four-year-old son Grayer is the focus of attention, of the nanny that is, not his parents. Nan the nanny, a twenty-one-year-old student, takes Grayer to numerous classes, cooks health-food snacks, and ponders whether to tell Mrs. X about Mr. X's affair.
The work garnered praise for its humor. At the Buzzle. com Web site, Stephanie Zacharek characterized the work as a "tart, lively and genuinely openhearted debut novel . . . that is a sharply barbed comedy of manners." Swilley also remarked, "With plenty of juicy material, Emma and Nicola admit they drew from their own experiences to create this wickedly funny look at life as a New York nanny." Hephzibah Anderson wryly commented in New Statesman, "Ultimately, so much of what fills the pages of this highly entertaining debut seems just too bizarre to have been made up." Library Journal reviewer Beth Gibbs decided that some of the episodes of this "amusingly cutthroat novel" are "hilarious," and a Booklist reviewer also praised the work, calling it a "fast-paced, witty, thoroughly entertaining tale." So too, Judith Warner of Washington Post determined that the novel "is supposed to be a rip-roaring social satire, a light voyeuristic romp through the underwear drawers of New York's very richest families. It succeeds in large part. McLaughlin and Kraus are good on the details."
A handful of reviewers commented on McLaughlin and Kraus's characterizations. Although a Publishers Weekly contributor found "especially impressive the authors' ability to allow the loathsome Mrs. X occasional flashes of humanity and pathos," another critic had a different opinion. "The Xes are too onedimensionally awful to seem real," commented Danielle Steel in People, "but the authors manage a poignant, nuanced portrayal of Grayer." Warner pointed out what she considers to be a "significant weakness" in The Nanny Diaries. Although Nan is a "good observer" and the "obvious outrage she feels in the Xes' emotionally toxic universe provides a welcome moral anchor for the book . . . as a character, she's limited."
Yet the work has another dimension—the pity factor. "Laughing at how far these parents will go in their daft demands keeps the book comic instead of woebegone," Swilley added. "The Nanny Diaries may provide cackles of schadenfreude among the Upper East Side private school crowd," concluded Warner, "but outsiders are more likely to be struck by the sadness of it all."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2002, Beth Warrell, review of The Nanny Diaries, p. 923.
Entertainment Weekly, March 15, 2002, Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, review of The Nanny Diaries, p. 7.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2002, review of TheNanny Diaries, pp. 67-68.
Library Journal, March 1, 2002, Beth Gibbs, review of The Nanny Diaries, p. 140.
New Statesman, March 18, 2002, Hephzibah Anderson, review of The Nanny Diaries, p. 56.
New York, March 4, 2002, Daniel Mendelson, "Nanny Cam," p. 52.
New York Times, February 7, 2002, Anthony Haden-Guest, "A Nanny's-Eye View of the Park Avenue Life," p. F1; March 4, 2002, Janet Maslin, "The Walls May Not Have Ears, but the Nanny Does," p. B8.
People, March 25, 2002, Danielle Steel, review of TheNanny Diaries, pp. 49-50.
Publishers Weekly, February 25, 2002, review of TheNanny Diaries, p. 40; April 1, 2002, review of The Nanny Diaries (audiobook), p. 30; April 22, 2002, Daisy Maryles and Dick Donahue, "Score #1 for the Nannies," p. 26.
Time, March 25, 2002, Belinda Luscombe, "Rocking the Cradle," p. 71.
Washington Post, April 10, 2002, Judith Warner, "Bringing up Baby on the Upper East Side," p. C04.
Book Page,http://www.bookpage.com/ (May 7, 2002), Stephanie Swilley, "Oh Baby! New York Nannies Dish the Dirt."