The New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew conjures a dark and unpredictable tale of family secrets that explores the lengths people will go to hurt one another.
When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.
Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.
Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…
In this compulsively readable tale of secrets, lies, and deception, Gilly Macmillan explores the darkest impulses and desires of the human heart. Diabolically clever, The Nanny reminds us that sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.
Secrets, secrets and more secrets abound in this slow-build thriller! Loved it.
Jocelyn Holt was recently widowed and she must move back to England with her young daughter Ruby to live with her mother. Jo grew up in the imposing Lake Hall with her beloved father and cold mother, whom she always believed to be distant and unloving. Jo is still tormented by the sudden and traumatic departure of her beloved nanny Hannah when she was very young.
Jo is determined that her daughter will not have the same upbringing that she had in Lake Hall. Raised by others, her parents were but a distant presence in her life. I loved the diverging viewpoints in this book on class division in England. The very wealthy handed off the raising of their children to others, who basically became like parent figures to their young charges. Jo is still traumatized by Hannah’s abandonment of her, which she has always blamed on her hateful mother Virginia. But is Jo’s memory reliable? What really happened to her beloved nanny”
“I no longer know who or what to believe.”
Virginia actually seems quite taken by Ruby and seems to have genuine affection for her. Virginia and Jo battle constantly throughout much of the story: Jo is judgmental of her mother’s upper-class lifestyle and does not want Ruby to grow up spoiled and with a sense of entitlement. Virginia, on the other hand, is exhausted from life and from years of battling her daughter Jocelyn over every single thing.
“Do you know how it feels when your child looks at you with eyes full of hatred? You feel as if your soul is being scraped out of you. I had so much love to give her, but she didn’t want a single piece of it. ”
Soon the discovery of a skull on the lake of their property leads to an investigation and the unraveling of the several lives which have been intertwined for decades. Secrets are revealed and the author completely shocked me with this intricate tale of love, family loyalty and betrayal. What really happened to Hannah all those years ago? Is Virginia really as distant and unloving as Jo believes her to be?
“I’ve seen things I hadn’t remembered quite right and other things I had forgotten completely. It’s a strange sensation to see yourself somewhere doing something you would not have remembered otherwise.”
This is my first novel by Gilly Macmillan and I absolutely fell in love with her writing. This book surprised me until the very end! I loved the setting of an English manor house and the traditions were enchanting. There were several characters I loved to hate and found the ending to be incredibly satisfying. Highly recommend this atmospheric and well-written thriller!
(With thanks to the publisher for an advanced copy provided via NetGalley.)