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A Perfect Arrangement

2.9  ·  Rating Details ·  326 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Randi Gill seems to be the perfect nanny until she gains a position of unnatural power in the fragile household of Mirella and Howard Cook-Goldman. From the author of A Crime in the Neighborhood comes this suspenseful, wry and disturbing novel that exposes the confusion and doubt that haunt all working parents.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Plume (first published May 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jenny Karraker
Jul 03, 2012 Jenny Karraker rated it did not like it
I saw this on someone's list and decided to read it. I found it very slow and not very interesting. Author explores the life of a wealthy Bostonian couple who struggle with the challenges of juggling 2 careers with raising children plus trying to keep their marriage intact. The nanny seems like a God send, but you know something isn't quite right about the while thing. Wanting closure, I skimmed through the book to found out what happens at the end. I don't think I'll read anything else by this ...more
L.N. Cronk
Nov 28, 2011 L.N. Cronk rated it it was ok
The description labels this book as "suspenseful", which is why I gave it such a low rating. The only suspense was waiting for something exciting to happen. It was more of a character study and the "events" at the end were anti-climatic, in my opinion. Nothing shocking, nothing surprising, nothing really original. If the book's description had not led me to believe the book was going to be exciting, I would have given it a higher rating.
Beth Farnsworth
Feb 14, 2014 Beth Farnsworth rated it did not like it
What was the purpose of this book? Waste of my time.
Dec 04, 2012 Joe rated it it was ok
Not sure why this book was written
Apr 06, 2014 Frances rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed to have great promise, but ran out of steam towards the end. The nanny, Randi, was built up to be a potential psychopath, but eventually appeared to be much more of a victim. The stresses of working parents coping with a child with severe autism were explored, but could have been much more fully developed by the author.
Katie Kenig
Mar 06, 2008 Katie Kenig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
The last approximately ten percent of this book left me stunned and feeling more than a little unsettled.

It may have been my own history working as a nanny in my early twenties that made the character of Randi, the nanny in this novel, more compelling to me than the driven career-woman mother. Perhaps it was that I feel more of a connection to stay-at-home mothers and the mother in this novel treated them a little bit disdainfully that made me more on the nanny's "side". Whatever it was, I wasn'
Sep 27, 2012 Lori rated it did not like it
Not suspenseful. The characters were bland and unlikeable. I think the author tried to eek out reader empathy but it fails. I skimmed the entire novel because I wanted to discover the disturbing event touted on the jacket. There was nothing disturbing or thrilling at all about this pedestrian tale of middle-class people who live a life of ingratitude and then screwing up what they have.
Tiffany Garcia
Nov 27, 2007 Tiffany Garcia rated it did not like it
This sounded like a really good book and how the nanny was going to be so bad, it was nothing like that. She just got attached to the autistic son and the mother couldn't handle it. Could have been great.
Feb 13, 2009 Aimee rated it it was ok
O.K. A little creepy and the family dynamic frusterated me.
Saya Hashimoto
Nov 20, 2007 Saya Hashimoto rated it really liked it
Shades of A.M Homes, always a good thing.
Jayne Charles
Nov 14, 2016 Jayne Charles rated it liked it
The word that comes to mind in connection with this book is "muted". Given the set-up (stressed-out professional couple hire nanny with faked references who seems brilliant) most people would expect the story to go a particular - quite dramatic - way. It doesn't. It's rather more concerned with examining the relationship of the couple, and the relationship of the nanny with her estranged family. I realised close to the end that there wasn't going to be any drama and settled down to enjoy the ...more
Zelda Reben
Nov 02, 2016 Zelda Reben rated it it was ok
Couldn't finish this book. Got up to around half way and gave up. The writing was great, but the plot seemed very ... jumbled and not very interesting.
Camille Maio
Oct 02, 2016 Camille Maio rated it it was amazing
I don't often read suspense, as they can seem far-fetched, but I found this one to be subtle and realistic - making it all the more nail-biting. I would read more from this author.
Dec 17, 2010 Ann rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Roxanne Robinson and Meg Wolitzer
Howard and Miranda are a two-income, two-kid family in a pretty New England town. He's an architect, about to land his first big independent project. She's a lawyer with an exhausting workload and an even more exhausting daily commute. Since the nanny left, their life is chaos. So when the employment agency sends them Randi (She cooks! She cleans! She crafts!), they can't believe their good luck. So Randi moves in. And things calm down...or do they? While peace and order may reign in the ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Lain rated it liked it
The premise of this book had me from "go." A double-income-two-kid couple is in search of a new nanny, and Randi seems to be the answer to their prayers. But as she becomes more and more indispensable, the Cook-Goldman marriage begins to unravel at the edges. Is Randi a willing participant to the family's demise, or just an unwitting bystander? The larger story is about secrets and the things we know but don't admit, even to ourselves.

I'm all for authors keeping a light touch, but seriously...
Andrea MacPherson
Sep 10, 2013 Andrea MacPherson rated it really liked it
Another great book by Suzanne Berne. As with A Crime in the Neighbourhood, clear and empathetic characters, fluid prose. Where Crime used a more dramatic plot line, A Perfect Arrangement is much more subtle. This novel explores the demands of marriage, parenthood, worklife--the modern trifecta. Berne guides us through difficulties in the Goodman-Cook's marriage, brought to a head by the arrival of a new and secretive nanny, Randi.

Really enjoyed the ease of the prose, the authentic drawing of the
May 01, 2016 Gerry rated it liked it
Mirella, a lawyer, and Howard, an architect, need a new sitter for their two children. They hire Randi, a young girl who quickly becomes an integral part of the household and all of their lives. She seems to have a special bond with Jacob, who seems to have features of autism but who is regarded by his parents as just a little delayed. Berne hints at mysteries in Randi's past, but never fully develops this aspect of the book. The ending was unsatisfying to me in its vagueness, but perhaps this ...more
Sally Whitehead
Jul 26, 2011 Sally Whitehead rated it liked it
Well written in many ways, and builds tension in a nice steady way, but the ending is ultimately disappointing. Whilst I appreciate that the domestic "drama" created is purposefully more subtle and corrosive as opposed to the sense of shock the novel somehow leads you to expect, somehow in the closing 30 pages, it just doesn't work. The way the character of Randi, the nanny is dealt with,both during and after the climax, feels wasteful and incomplete. I much preferred Berne's first novel.
Dec 05, 2008 Mandy rated it did not like it
This book was almost like the movie the hand that rocks the craddle. It was full of detail that went on and on. I wanted to read about what happen to Randi when she left besides the postcard. I wanted to find out what happen to Howard after the town meeting. How did he walk out of there. The writer seemed to try to create suspens but all that I felt was created was annoying.
Jun 06, 2015 Tolly rated it it was ok
I wanted more oomph out of the secret. . . Or an angrier ending. . . Just more! It was hard to like the wife, the husband was likable, the nanny didn't have much of a personality. A lot of potential. I hope she gets better as an author because it was fairly close to being great!
May 13, 2013 Renee rated it it was ok
i think the ending could have been better - seemed like the author just couldnt figure out how to end it and just put anything there, as much as she tried to come up with a suspensful nanny in this book, it could have been better.
Oct 27, 2013 Ann rated it liked it
The narrator on the audiobook spoke painfully slowly and way too close to the mic. It's hard to skim passed the slow parts on an audiobook, and the author dwells on the mundane. I was expecting more suspense but it was more anxiety among the characters.
Boots S
Feb 29, 2016 Boots S rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
No point to the story. no moral, no clear cut ending.
I should have remembered the mantra --- if one is not interested by 100 pages, don't bother to finish.
I did skip quite a number of paragraphs - something I never do, so could be I missed a vital thread.
Mar 30, 2011 Jan rated it it was ok
This was not one of my favorites -- I had never read anything by this author and based upon this book will probably not read another one. The story line had potential but just feel that the characters went no where to keep the story line interesting.
Barbara Wood
Apr 28, 2014 Barbara Wood rated it liked it
I was eager to learn what the nanny's secret was and I was disappointed when it was revealed. The ending was anti-climatic.
Debra Morris
Jul 09, 2011 Debra Morris rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book; it's an interesting read. I could empathize with the different characters and I thought that's what made the book so compelling.
May 12, 2008 Featherbooks rated it really liked it
An architect, his lawyer-wife and their two troubled children find the "perfect" nanny and their lives unravel.
Reminiscent of Anne Tyler.
Nov 14, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
The Goldmans are living the American Dream but have no time to enjoy it until the ideal nanny appears, but she isn't what she seems.
Oct 10, 2011 Terri rated it liked it
It was pretty good, good enough to keep reading to the end. I might read another book by this author. It was actually a bit of a bizarre ending.
Lettie Cox
Jan 22, 2016 Lettie Cox rated it liked it
I really liked this book until the end. Such an abrupt ending. I don't forsee a sequel because it didn't really leave loose ends BUT ugh it could have been so much better even if it left you hanging.
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