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What to think of this best-selling French novel based on a nightmare scenario, that of the killer nanny: thoughts and inspiration for our own organisation

I opened this book curious to read a human interest story and apprehensive about reading one of my worst nightmares.

It must be admitted that when you leave your children every morning with another person, it can sometimes set the alarm bells of guilt ringing: What if something happens to them? What if this person harms them?

We have all experienced this kind of morbid thinking on the way to work on a bad morning.

By the way, we should note that curiously enough we don’t have those kinds of thoughts about the school teacher, for example. Oh, that mean old maternal complex! We definitely beat ourselves up too much about having our children looked after by another person.

So, clearly a nanny who kills the children she minds would be the icing on the cake!

Therefore, the author toys with the emotional springs of our fears and complexes as active mothers, certainly with some literary talent, but I also thought she pressed the guilt mode button a little too easily!

In reality, what makes this book interesting is its description of Louise the nanny’s emotional and moral misery: the solitude and despair of a woman with no love and no lifebuoys in her life slowly driven into madness.

Humiliated by her husband, detested by her daughter, crippled with debts and soon to be homeless, her job as a nanny becomes the only thing that still defines her and she cannot accept losing it.

Once the book ends, we are left with the impression that it is unfinished, because there is no explanation for this madness, and we enjoy reflecting on the orange, and then red signals that the parental couple don’t notice while the nanny slowly spirals away from normality.

The nanny’s debts that the couple don’t want to hear about, and which do not alarm them as to the unstable situation of their employee.

The blurred lines between the relationship of professional trust and simulated intimacy: a friend one day, a boss the next…

The progressive invasion of the nanny into every aspect of the house: the good fairy who becomes mistress of the house.

The employers’ abuse of the working hours by using artless excuses: “She so enjoys minding the children, even at the weekend!”

The details that we don’t want to see: empty cupboards, a bathtub that has been used…


In short, if you are to take away one thing from Sweet Song, which is wonderfully written by the way, it is that while you can do nothing about a desperate case, you can remain vigilant and maintain a strictly professional relationship with your nanny: this cannot protect you from everything, but it does impose clear boundaries for her and for you… food for thought!

For those who would like to look more closely at the subject of childminding:

Points to check before hiring your nanny

How to better delegate to your nanny or childminder?

If you are inspired by questions about organisation in the home or at work that allow you to strengthen your work/life balance, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or subscribe to the Let’s Coorganiz! newsletter to receive two articles about organisation every week on Saturday morning… a little light reading under your warm duvet!

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