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The Nanny

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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.

416 pages, ebook

First published May 1, 2019

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About the author

Gilly Macmillan

14 books4,250 followers
Gilly Macmillan is the New York Times & Sunday Times bestselling author of TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, THE NANNY, WHAT SHE KNEW (previously published as BURNT PAPER SKY in some territories), THE PERFECT GIRL, ODD CHILD OUT & I KNOW YOU KNOW.

Gilly is Edgar Award nominated and an ITW award finalist. Her books have been translated into over 20 languages.

She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern California. She studied History of Art at Bristol University and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Gilly lives in Bristol, UK with her family and writes full time. She’s currently working on her seventh novel.

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5 stars
4,789 (18%)
4 stars
10,770 (42%)
3 stars
7,736 (30%)
2 stars
1,693 (6%)
1 star
342 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,745 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,123 reviews39.1k followers
January 31, 2022
What a surprising, slow-burn thriller with unlikable but somehow appreciable characters (if you handle a little batshit craziness and sociopathic tendencies, they were all right!), gripping reading making you captive and forcing you brainstorming about what’s going to happen next and then sucker punching you at unforeseeable second with a great revelation! BAM! Yes giving my four stars and throwing my tequila shot against my mouth (This time Chardonnay is too light to absorb this kind of thriller book, trust me!)

OMG! what’s the thriller authors’ problem with those nannies? If more books are going to be written and released about them, I’m afraid most of them will be sacked and all the mothers will be more depressed with crying kids throwing at them at the supermarkets’ floors for their mothers’ insensitivity about buying wrong cereals.

I personally started to be afraid of them and this book completely wiped away entertaining Fran Drescher’s “Nanny” performance on my mind. ( Okay I’m taking this back because she was also scary when she performed her signature donkey laughter!) And Mary Poppins turned into a villanelle by brainwashing those innocent kids with fairytales and illusions.(I think she may have mixed kids’ food with hallucinogens and turned them into cult members. See how this book affected me to create darker retelling of Mary Poppins on my mind.)

This book is centered between three women and a little girl! All two husbands had already gone to heaven or somewhere else (Jocelyn’s father gives us bad vibes and impression of a naughty boy!)
Jocelyn loses her husband at the tragic traffic accident and her financial problems forced her to move back to the UK with her ten year old girl Ruby to live with her estranged mother Virginia. Jo had a troubled relationship with her mother who never showed any affection to her when she was a little child and still blamed her about the sudden leaving of her beloved nanny Hannah. She gets agitated to her own daughter for her affection about her grandmother. She wants to move from the house to start a new life but financially she can’t handle it so she feels trapped in this mansion with her ugly but somewhat blurry childhood memories.

Virginia seems like a shady, notorious but also clever, sarcastic character and Jocelyn’s decisiveness and vagueness about her own past made me think, she is not the evil as she’s being told.
Then one day, A SKULL IS UNCOVERED IN THE LAKE SIDE OF THE ESTATE! Does it belong to beloved Hannah who had disappeared years ago?

But SURPRISE! HANNAH is back and she is so keen to be at Jocelyn’s service to take care of little Ruby. But does she really the person she admitted? Well, according to Virginia, it’s a little tricky because she might have dropped her dead body at the lake years ago!!!!!!!
So who is the real evil? Who is the biggest liar? Had the nanny resurrected or is she a doppelganger? What Virginia is hiding from her daughter?

So many tricky questions like but don’t worry when you get your answers you’re going to feel like the rug pulled out from under your feet. As your back hit the floor, don’t curse because choosing the book to read you deserve to be tricked by evil genius brain of this author!
Brava Gilly Macmillan! Well written, well played! Salute !
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
498 reviews61k followers
August 18, 2019
This was one of the least mysterious mysteries I've ever read. Usually Gilly Macmillan really does it for me, oh well- maybe her next one!
January 23, 2020
4.5 stars! I LOVED this book!

This book had all the elements of a perfect read for me. Exquisite, slow burn, creep under your skin writing. Old countryside manor house. Gothic, tension-filled atmosphere. Mysterious characters. Old family secrets discovered. This was right up my alley!

This novel follows the prestigious Holt family. The Holts hire Nanny Hannah to look after their only daughter, Jo, who develops a deep bond that outshines her relationship with her own mother. Nanny Hannah shocks everyone when she flees one night without a trace. Thirty years later, Jo and her ten year old daughter, Ruby, have moved back to the Holt manor to live with her aging mother. Not long after moving in, they answer a knock at the door to find Nanny Hannah. Hannah reignites her relationship with Jo and becomes a member of the Holt household once again.

This book had me glued to the pages from start to finish. The pace was a slow burn done to perfection. I love a good family mystery that slowly unravels revealing more secrets and details as the chapters go by and that is exactly what this story was. The flow was excellent. Told through multiple narrators, each voice offered another layer to the story adding more intrigue and intensity. My one tiny critique was that some plot points near the end of the book edged on implausible territory, however, it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment. I truly loved this novel!

This was my first book by this author, Gilly Macmillan. I was so impressed with her writing that I ordered two more of her books before I even reached the halfway point in this novel. The writing is smooth and stunning. It locked me in and didn’t let me out until I read the last sentence.

Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC and my lovely local library for the loan of the physical copy. I highly recommend and look forward to reading more from this very talented author!
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12k followers
October 6, 2019
Slow-burn, upsetting, & deceptively appealing!

I fell in love with Gilly Macmillan and her books after reading WHAT SHE KNEW and since have subsequently read or have snatched myself up all of her other books so I have them on hand. I have a habit of “collecting” author’s books after loving one. I did have every intention of reading them but some of my ARC’s have gotten in the way of reading authors that I favour and enjoy. So I was beyond ecstatic when I received a physical ARC of THE NANNY.

THE NANNY by GILLY MACMILLAN is a haunting, dark, eerie, mysterious, and suspenseful psychological thriller that is packed full of buried family secrets, lies, deceit, obsession, regrets, distrust, and dysfunctional familial dynamics. Unfortunately, this book didn’t immediately grab my attention because I didn’t immediately connect with the writing style and found the story to be painstakingly slow in the beginning. So I put the novel aside for a day and then jumped right back into it, then I was able to fully immerse myself in this tale and I ended up quite enjoying it.

GILLY MACMILLAN delivers a slow-going, atmospheric, intriguing, and unsettling tale here that subtly shifts in tone from perplexing to comprehension about 20% in for me. Even though I did get a little bit annoyed and impatient in the beginning because of my disconnect here once I did comprehend and “get” what I was reading the remainder of the book went quite smoothly for me.

The story is told in multiple alternating perspectives between a detective, Jo (our protagonist), her mother Virginia, and my absolute favourite an unknown narrator which adds intrigue and this evil sense of foreboding to the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed Jo’s daughter Ruby and found myself more drawn to her character than to our main character here. Jo’s character was really maddening and totally frustrated me. I might have yelled at her and shook my head multiple times at her while I was reading this book. Why couldn’t she just see what was happening? She definitely had blinders on!

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: An eye-catching, creepy, sinister, intriguing, suspenseful, and extremely fitting representation to storyline. This cover definitely caught my attention and I love the creepiness and gothic vibe to it!
Title: A straightforward and fitting representation to storyline.
Writing/Prose: Well-written, vivid, suspenseful, engaging, captivating, and readable. I didn’t immediately connect to the writing style like I have with other books by this author but once I did, it was smooth sailing from there.
Plot: Slow-moving, complex, slightly convoluted, sinister, suspenseful, unsettling, wicked, steadily-paced, enjoyable and entertaining.
Ending: I was thoroughly satisfied.
Overall: 3.5 Stars! This isn’t a fast-paced or edge-of-your-seat thriller by no means it is one that delves deep into the characters lives and leaves you with these puzzling subtle clues along the way to piece together piece by piece. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to HarperCollins Canada for gifting me a physical ARC.

This review can also be seen at Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:
Profile Image for Sumit RK.
397 reviews451 followers
October 15, 2019
Nannies make great characters in fiction because they’re outsiders who’ve been invited into the heart of a family. If the word Nanny reminds you of Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee or even Fran Drescher (you remember), then this book may force you to do a rethink.

Jo’s beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, Haunted by the loss, Jo eventually left her parents and her home behind. Thirty years later, Jo returns to her 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. To add to the mystery, Hannah is back after 30 long years.

Told in alternating points of view, the story is told in multiple alternating perspectives between a detective, Jo (our protagonist), her mother Virginia, and an unknown narrator which adds intrigue. Gilly Macmillan has woven all of these perspectives together and delivered an atmospheric and intriguing story full of, lies, deceit and buried family secrets.

I liked that all of the characters were so flawed, so you are not sure whom to trust. I loved the gothic vibes of the old family home (reminding you of an Agatha Christie mystery). If you love a domestic mystery, then this one is just right for you.

The book is quite slow; especially in the opening chapters. The constant changing of narratives between characters gets jarring after a point. Some POVs like the detective's POV felt totally pointless and added little in value. The climax, though not entirely predictable, felt totally flat. But what felt lacking was a sense of tension and thrill, because the story had a lot more potential.

Overall, The Nanny is a solid story with some great writing and some excellent characters. It was an easy read and fans of domestic mysteries will like it more. 3.5 stars out of 5

Many thanks to the publishers HarperCollins, the author Gilly Macmillan and Edelweiss for the ARC.

Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
717 reviews4,625 followers
October 5, 2019
If you enjoy a mystery involving family secrets where nothing is quite as it seems, The Nanny is definitely for you.

Told in alternating points of view, The Nanny tells the tale of Jocelyn Holt as she is forced to return to her childhood home after the death of her husband. Jocelyn must face her estranged mother, while trying to put her and her daughter's life back together. If that wasn't hard enough - a skull is uncovered on the estate's lake, stirring up memories of Jo's beloved Nanny who disappeared without a word one night.

This is a slow burn type mystery - where bits are revealed little by little. The aristocratic characters were quite scandalous and I found the memories of their past deeds entertaining and often times abhorrent (which I rather enjoy!). The Holt family has quite the saga going on in this story and Nanny Hannah - well, let's just say she was the opposite of Mary Poppins.

This novel was full of regrets, misdeeds, secrets, misplaced trust, manipulation and unhealthy relationships. I enjoyed this mystery but I did have it figured out fairly early on and it felt a bit too long. Had it been just a bit faster, it would have been all the more gripping. 3.5 ⭐️ (rounded up)

Thank you to Gilly Macmillan, Harper Collins, William Morrow and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Joey R..
235 reviews295 followers
May 10, 2020
2.5 stars — I decided to give Gilly Macmillan another chance after being less than thrilled with “What She Knew” when I read it a few years ago. “The Nanny”, like all of Ms. Macmillan’s books, has a good premise. Jo, a newly widowed mother, and her daughter, Ruby, are forced to move back to England to live with her estranged widowed mother after being left financially destitute when her husband died. The drama begins when early in her stay, Jo and her daughter find a dead body in the lake outside of her mother’s home. This coincides with Jo’s old nanny, Hannah, whom she idolized growing up, coming back into her life twenty-something years after she disappeared suddenly. The author switches continuously from the present to the past to give the reader a clearer picture of how Hannah and Jo got to where they are now. Despite the good setup, the plot of “The Nanny” begins to deteriorate the further I read. The main problem I had with the book is Jo, who is so oblivious to everything going on around her that she reminds you of one of the teen camp counselors in a bad horror movie. She believes neither her mother nor daughter time after time the nanny does something sinister. Also, the author writes Ruby as if she is 4 or 5 years old and Jo treats her the same way — so when late in the book you find out Ruby is 10, it really makes Ruby’s behavior and how she is treated ridiculous. Finally, the book crashes to an unlikely end with characters acting in irrational ways inconsistent with what we know about them. Based on the problems I had with believability and the actions of the characters, I would have to give this one a big thumbs down.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,082 reviews30.1k followers
September 30, 2019
Jo was seven years old when her nanny, Hannah, left years ago. The loss disconnected her, and as soon as she could, she left her family and those memories at Lake Hall behind.

Over thirty years later, Jo is back at Lake Hall where she has to face her mother. At the same time, human remains are found in a lake on the property and what could that mean?

This is immediately followed by a visitor showing up and tearing Jo’s world apart all over again. Her mission becomes finding out just who her nanny really was and why she would have left.

So many secrets. So many lies. Darkness. Spite. The truth inevitably hurts.

I’ve read a few of Macmillan’s books and enjoyed them, but this is definitely her best. The pacing never lags and page after page had me compelled over this mysterious nanny. The family is so dynamic and dysfunctional, it’s like watching a train wreck.

Overall, I needn’t worry about putting this one down because I never did. It was compulsively readable and addictive.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for ReadAlongWithSue .
2,646 reviews170 followers
September 3, 2019
I’ve been reading this on and off from last night. I read the bulk of this book until dawn. I finished the rest over breakfast and lunch.
The book was glued to my hands, I really had a job putting it down.

I love a dysfunctional family, and we certainly have one in the story, I loved the “rich class higher archly “ in this too. “We have servants”.

The Nanny is a class pounding thriller that I loved. Plenty to get your teeth into.

Highly recommend
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,690 reviews14.1k followers
September 8, 2019
2.5 I made the decision at the end of last year to for go many of the psychological thrillers being written. I connected to do few of them and they were all blending together in my head. So, this is one of the few I have read this year, but found myself having the same problem. Different characters telling the story, made this book, for me, choppy reading. Very seldom does this format work for me, though there have been a few exceptions. The sections narrated by Detective Andy, were nonensial,, didn't add much to the story.

There were screw surprises, but for the most part it was predictable. At 400 pages, much to long for a predictable read, though to be fair, it read quickly with the format used. I've enjoyed a few of this authors reads in the past, and will probably try her again. Hopefully, I will find the next more engaging. My final analysis is it was just okay, but nothing out of the ordinary.

ARC from Librarything.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,265 reviews338 followers
October 13, 2019
This book started out well and won my attention when all of the characters are introduced. I liked that each of the characters possesses his/her own unique personalities. I smiled at Detective Andy's humor on wealthy people and felt angry at Jo for her blind loyalty. This story was a page turner for me up until the middle of the book and then it began to drag. I don't enjoy all that arts stuff.

This book started with a prologue. Then the story begins, told in the third person point of view following Jocelyn, back in 1987, as she wakes up to find her nanny Hannah gone. She loves her nanny for her patience and care, an opposite of what her own mother does for her. Thirty years later Jo comes back to UK with her daughter to live with her mother after her husband died. The second view is of nanny Hannah, starting from more than thirty years ago and on until present day. The third view is Virginia, Jocelyn's mother, told in present day. Virginia Holt is a wealthy woman with a lot of secrets. The fourth view is Detective Andy Wilton. He comes out to investigate the skull found in the lake. The past are written in italicized and the present are not. This book is divided into three parts.

The Nanny is well written and easy to read. I like the few surprises here and there. I didn't guess it but I like the ending. The whole book is very mellow and not thrilling to read. Of all the characters, I guess I like Virginia because she knows what to do under pressure. The prologue is interesting when part of it appears within the story.

Pro: humor, easy to read,
Con: slow paced, art stuffs, lack thrills
I rate it 4 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to William Morrows for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.
Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,102 reviews1,726 followers
August 12, 2019
I have never rated a Gilly Macmillan book under 4 stars, and this one is no exception!!

When her beloved nanny Hannah, left without a trace in 1988, seven year old, Jocelyn was devastated.

Haunted by loss, she grew up bitter and distant -only returning to her family home in desperation after the unexpected death of her husband.

She has been estranged from her Mother for thirty years, but she must put her own daughter, Ruby, first, so with nowhere else to go, the pair leave California, for the very atmospheric Lake Hall, in England.

Jocelyn (who now goes by Jo) sees a different side of her MOTHER, when Lady Holt (Victoria) is around her granddaughter, but she is not here to repair that relationship, and cannot quite believe that her MOTHER may have changed.

I loved seeing Victoria through both her daughter and granddaughter's eyes!

And, then a SKULL is discovered in the lake.
Could it be Hannah’s?

SECRETS long buried, are about to be exposed.

Of course, it turns out that what you thought you knew, may not be what it seemed.

The alternating perspectives moved things along quickly for me, and I felt an ever growing DARK SENSE OF FOREBODING, as I continued on, growing more and more NERVOUS with each chapter!!

Though not a mystery of shocking twists, this story reveals itself a bit at a time, allowing you to "connect the dots" and see if you are right..

I loved this as much as her first book, so if you are a fan of her work, I think you will too!

Available September 10, 2019!

Thank You to Edelweiss. William Morrow, and the author for the digital ARC I received in exchange for a candid review!
Profile Image for Holly  B (busy month catching up).
798 reviews1,796 followers
October 22, 2019

3.25 STARS

It was okay! I enjoyed some parts quite a bit and others were way far-fetched. The audio version made it more enjoyable.

Pretty standard, but the nanny certainly added some creepiness. What is it about Nannies?

I did skim several parts that were just a bit wordy for me.

I would like to read more from the author. This was a library loan and I had the Audible version for when I was traveling.

Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,123 reviews604 followers
May 8, 2019
The nanny in this novel is not quite the Mary Poppins figure that usually springs to mind when nannies are mentioned, but a more devious, scheming person looking out for number one. In 1987, Hannah Burgess worked as a nanny for Lord and Lady Holt, looking after their 7 year old Jocelyn until one morning Jocelyn wakes up to find Hannah gone with no explanation. Now 30 years later, Jocelyn (or Jo as she now calls herself) and her young daughter are forced back to live with her estranged and bitter widowed mother on the family estate after Jo's husband dies suddenly leaving her in a dire financial position. Jocelyn begins to question what happened to her nanny and what role her parents may have played in her disappearance.

This psychological thriller is a little slow to wind up, but it does eventually lay out a web of lies and deceptions meant to beguile Jo into trusting the nanny and suspecting her mother's motives. Neither Lady Holt nor the nanny are very likeable characters, although Jo does seem just a tad too naive and gullible to always side with the nanny, especially when her own daughter's safety is at risk. 3.5★

With thanks to Netgalley and Random House for a digital ARC to read
Profile Image for Linda.
1,190 reviews1,238 followers
October 11, 2019
Now you see her.

Now you don't.

Gilly Macmillan presents a whirlwind game of musical chairs through a sharply faceted range of hard-to-pinpoint characters. Some travel light and some seem to drag in copious amounts of weighted baggage. Baggage with their own nametags and baggage from anonymous sources.

Jocelyn, also known as Jo, is stumbling out of the shocking corridor of recent widowhood. She and her young daughter, Ruby, are leaving California behind in order to rebuild a life once again in the midst of the family mansion called Lake Hall in the English countryside.

Her mother, Lady Virginia Holt, waits anxiously for Jo and Ruby to arrive. She, too, is a widow since the death of Jo's father. But there has always been a coldness between mother and daughter. Maintaining the posh environment took priority for Virginia at the expense of motherhood. Jo always blamed her mother for the sudden departure of her beloved nanny, Hannah, when she was a child. Broke and jobless, Jo has no other alternative but to remain under the watchful eye of her mother and the fear that Ruby will be subjected to the same.

Macmillan knows that a human skull rolling onto the premises will certainly get our attention. And it does. The skull had floated up into the muck of the lake behind the mansion. Ancient or recent? We peer over the shoulders of the police as they are called in to investigate. This is not a police procedural as they seem to work on the outer periphery. It's these strange characters with wavy images that take this story to higher levels.

And now add a plus one here. Out of the darkest universe arrives the former nanny, Hannah, into the mix. Jo is elated, but Virginia is filled with foreboding. Young Ruby is standoffish as well. Let's just say that there's something about Hannah. Hmmmmm......

The Nanny works on a slow simmer on the back burner. But be patient. It will come to a rolling boil towards the end. Just the right kind of read for these dark, dark autumn evenings.
Profile Image for Lisa.
732 reviews
September 10, 2019
Gilly Macmillan is now a favourite of mine in this Genre she wwrites a slow burn prose of a dysfunctional family with servants to boot ( i wish) and an arsy bartsy posh lifestyle, again (i wish) All in all a fabulous read for those who like family drama.
Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,007 reviews15.7k followers
September 21, 2019
Sometimes the truth hurts so much, you'd rather hear the lie.
Gilly MacMillan has crafted a haunting and atmospheric story. An eerie tale threaded with Mystery with a strong Gothic feel. This was not a fast paced edge of your seat thriller full of twists and turns. This was a slow burn that completely transported me into the lives of these characters. I could feel the chill in the air and the goosebumps on my skin, I was right there in this big creepy house with Virginia, Jo, Hannah, and Ruby. The strength of this Book was in the storytelling, I was captivated from first word to last.
Jocelyn has not been home for years. But after the death of her husband she has to pack her and her daughter up leave California and head home to the UK. Jo’s return home forces her to face both her estranged mother and the abandonment of her nanny over 30 years ago. After the remains of a body are found in the lake on the family property and the missing nanny returns to town things start to both piece together and fall apart. The story is told from multiple perspectives and bounces between past and present. Neither Virginia or Hannah were tremendously likable, but as things were revealed I definitely saw the good in one of them more than the other. Jo was likable, but she was also very frustrating with how gullible she was. Ruby really was my favorite character in this book a flash of color in the midst of all the gloom. A beautifully told Gothic family Drama sprinkled with Mystery and a touch of thriller.
This book in three emojis: 🛶 🏚 🎨
🎧🎧🎧 Clare Corbett, Patience Tomlinson, and Ben Eliot narrate this audiobook. All three of them did a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life giving them each a unique voice. My only tiny complaint is that occasionally I got a little confused because they both did Virginia's voice so differently. I can understand why this would be they probably did not record together, but sometimes I had to think twice and think oh this is the other narrator doing her voice because there was dialogue in both sections. I'm sure this is often the case, I just noticed it more in this book than I usually do.
*** Big thanks to William Morrow and Harper Audio for my copy of the book ***
Profile Image for Dennis.
743 reviews1,421 followers
June 14, 2019
The Nanny is my first read by Gilly Macmillan, and I'm not entirely sure why I've waited this long to read something by this notable author. It's getting harder and harder for thriller/mystery novels to succeed in this oversaturated market, especially when publishers are asking for new titles each year. The Nanny is a novel that is reminiscent of Ruth Ware's gothic-noir type of writing, infused with the character study of Liane Moriarty.

The Nanny takes place during two different time periods—current day and in the late-1970s/early 1980s. In the current day, Jocelyn Holt moves into her childhood home with her daughter Ruby. After Jocelyn's husband's death, she's been struggling to keep her family life stable and needs the help from her mother Virginia. Jocelyn's parents come from a long lineage of wealth and power, and although she doesn't have the best relationship with her mother, the help is definitely needed. As a child, Jocelyn was extremely close with her nanny Hannah, but one day she left without a trace—leaving a void in her life that was never fulfilled by her mother. As Jocelyn and Ruby settle into their new surroundings, they come across human remains by the lake. To make matters worse, Hannah returns to settle what was left covered from years past. These unexpected turns are going to open secrets that this family may not be ready to handle.

The Nanny really is nothing new when it comes to thriller novels. You can literally write the story from this synopsis. What happens in this novel is exactly what you're thinking, with very little twists or deviations. Although I do believe fans of the author will be pleased with this upcoming domestic thriller, fans of the genre will be left wanting more.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,412 reviews7,408 followers
October 28, 2019
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

2.5 Stars

When you spend your entire life making comments like this . . . .

Not everything ends up being a winner. My mediocre reaction to this one can probably be blamed on the fact that I have read quite a few stories revolving around . . . .

And, unfortunately, when it comes to stories of caretakers who just up and went “poof” in the night, I kinda liked The Au Pair better.

This book was perfectly fine - it just didn’t blow me away. The premise is as I said before – Jocelyn’s beloved Nanny Hannah left one night never to be heard from again. When Jo finds herself in a financial pickle after being widowed, she has to move back in to the family estate with own daughter. Human remains are discovered in a lake on the property and Jo immediately thinks it must be Hannah. Until Hannah shows up at the same door she walked out of 30 years ago.

The Nanny takes this sort of approach when it comes to storytelling . . . .

Apparently every idea was one that stuck to the wall. Not only was there the . . . .

With a potential for . . . .

As well as . . . . .

But there was also a bit of . . . .

(And lemme just tell you – this ain’t no Goldfinch, kids)

All in all this was an okay way to spend a couple of hours, but I won’t remember anything about it in the long run.
Profile Image for Mark.
1,094 reviews
May 7, 2019

I was expecting ‘sonething’ from this book but in fact got a very different book to what I had imagined
The Holts are titled and noble folk and even though it is just Lady Holt now in the big manor house she keeps appearances and customs as they always have been, stiff upper lip, straight backed and aloof and still employs ‘staff’ ( I adored her in all her entitled luxury ).....’Jo’ her daughter has arrived after a tragedy and is now also penniless, with her is her daughter, she has lived in America for years and is now back as has nowhere to else to go, the tension between mother and daughter and their different ‘take on life’ is wonderful....but under all this is the secret and the mystery of ‘The Nanny’, Jo’s Nanny, who disappeared one night, never to be spoke of again, and nor could she be,afterall she is dead as Lady Holt knows......imagine then her surprise when she turns up at their home....
The story continues from there as secret upon secret within secrets make a really good and dark story, of
course with twists and turns and all manner of things you expect in a book like this but told in a complete and organised fashion
Polished! Thats what I would say, an experienced author telling a very interesting and scarily credible story
Very much enjoyed 9/10 5 Stars
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,669 reviews1,607 followers
May 9, 2019
In 1987, Hannah Burgess worked as a nanny for Lord & Lady Holt, looking after their seven year old daughter Jocelyn. One morning Jocelyn awakes to find Hannah has left with no reason. It's now thirty years later and Jocelyn and her daughter, Ruby have no choice but to move back in with her bitter estranged widowed mother after Jocelyn's husband died. Ruby and her grandmother quickly form a relationship. I don't want to say much more as I don't want to spoil it for you. The book does start as a bit of a family saga but it's not long until you'll find yourself questioning who you trust. This is a very well written novel with a plot that's been well though out, and a fabulous set of characters.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, Cornerstone and the author Gilly Macmillan for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,131 reviews1,316 followers
March 29, 2020
Forced to return to the family home after her husbands death, Jocelyn must try and make the best of the situation for her daughter Ruby even though her relationship with her antagonist mother Virginia is testing at the best of times.

This all stems from the closeness Jo had former with her former nanny Hannah as a child, that was until the nanny mysterious disappeared one night.

One of the strongest aspects of the book is the relationship between mother and daughter, seeing how Jo reacts as Ruby builds an instant bond with her grandmother really added a unique depth to the family dynamic.

But the central mystery of why did Hannah leave resurfaces as she reappears at the family home.

This was a really strong psychological thriller that slowly builds to a brilliant and fitting crescendo.
Profile Image for Jaye Berry.
1,343 reviews123 followers
October 20, 2019
This is my third book by this author that I haven't liked so... good-bye forever.

The Nanny is about a woman named Jocelyn who when she was 8 years old, her beloved nanny disappeared without a trace. Thirty years later and Jo is back to her old home with her own daughter, to live with Jo's mother Virginia. When human remains are uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo questions everything. Then a mysterious stranger shows up and complicates things further.

This book had way too many POVs and it was SO DAMN SLOW. It felt like this book was 500 pages long like oh my god get to the point already?? There were endless plot lines that went nowhere and I seriously have no idea why the fuck they were even a thing besides to make this book painful. The mystery itself was pretty basic and it all just felt so pointless. As for the POVs, no too many. Stop it. First we have Jo's POV then we have her mother's, then we have some random ass detective who barely does anything, then we have yet another POV of the nanny and none of that was necessary.

The entire book be like: something happens to Virginia or Ruby then they say the nanny did it. Jo goes "sHe WoUlD nEvEr dO aNyThiNg LiKe tHaT, sToP lYiNg" as they beg her to please just listen and it happened a billion times. It was just so annoyingly stupid and EVERYTHING in this book could have been avoided if the three damn characters talked to each other for ONE SINGLE FUCKING SECOND JESUS FUCK JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER, WHY AM I READING ALL OF THIS BULLSHIT??

Anyway, the endless miscommunication and characters being stupid, along with random plot lines that went nowhere and a mystery that everyone could see coming (seriously I bet you can easily guess it from the summary that already gives away way too much info) really made me hate this book. Hilariously because I thought The Turn of the Key wasn't the best when I read it, after reading all these other shitty nanny books, it turns out that one was a diamond in the rough.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,255 reviews2,940 followers
April 10, 2020
Gilly MacMillan is an author I've wanted to check out for awhile now. I was hoping to read an earlier book of hers first but my library hold for her latest novel came up sooner than I had planned. Unfortunately I didn't end up up loving this one, due in part to my dislike for the main character, but I do think the author has some creativity in her writing and I definitely still want to read her earlier works.

Seven year old Jocelyn loves her nanny and therefore is devastated when the nanny leaves without a trace nor a goodbye. Thirty years later Jocelyn now is a parent of a young daughter and returns to the home she grew up in. She has a strained relationship with her mother, but certain circumstances have made this living arrangement necessary. When a skull is found on her mother's estate, Jocelyn is confronted with the past. The story alternates between the perspectives of a few different characters.

The book starts off with a lot of potential as I'm always up for a story revolving around long-held family secrets. But gradually, I found myself being annoyed with Jocelyn and at some point I just stopped caring if something good or bad was going to happen to her. Now her mother, Virginia, at least was an intriguing woman.

There are twists to the story and as I mentioned before the author is a creative storyteller but I just didn't end up feeling wowed by anything. This wasn't a horrible read but it did feel like it dragged on a bit and by the end I was just glad it was over so I could move on to something else.

Profile Image for Fictionophile .
997 reviews327 followers
August 23, 2019
In her late thirties, Jocelyn Holt is a recent widow. She and her ten-year-old daughter, Ruby, still grieving, move from California to the Wiltshire manor house where Jocelyn grew up.  Financially strapped, Jocelyn must depend upon the generosity of her widowed mother whom she has always found to be unloving and cold.

"To have a child whom you love but who does not love you back is a particularly intense and unrelenting source of pain."

She is surprised that her mother, Virginia, is quite besotted with her granddaughter Ruby. They seem to form an instant bond.  This is something that both surprises and unsettles Jocelyn. She does not want her mother being any kind of influence on her daughter. She fears that Ruby's spirit will be quelled by her mother's arrogance, snobbishness and life of aristocratic privilege. Jocelyn was brought up by a Nanny and never really had any real attachment to her mother. When Jocelyn was seven years old, her nanny, Hannah, disappeared and afterward Jocelyn was sent to boarding school.

Not long after they move in, Jocelyn takes Ruby for a boat ride in the lake on the estate's grounds. When they pull up at a little island in the lake, they make the gruesome discovery of a human skull...

The police descend on Lake Hall's estate. The discovery of the skull is the talk of the village.

Shortly thereafter, a woman comes to the door of the manor house. She claims to be Hannah Burgess, the long lost Nanny. Jocelyn is overjoyed to make her beloved nanny's re-acquaintance. Virginia, on the other hand is appalled...

Ruby dislikes her immensely. She posts online about her #evilnanny


This is my third novel by Gilly Macmillan and she never disappoints.

Ironically, the characters that most resonated with me were the ones I felt I was supposed to dislike - conversely, the characters which I felt I was supposed to like the most (i.e. Jocelyn), I felt myself disliking on occasion and I was often impatient with her.

I liked how each character gave their viewpoints in alternating chapters.

The setting, a grand English manor house and estate grounds were very appealing.

The plot had more than a few twists which will please those who love that sort of thing. I thought I had the story completely figured out about a third of the way through... needless to say that was probably the author's devious plan. I was very wrong.

A novel of mistakes made, regrets, family secrets, misplaced trust, intimidation, emotional manipulation, and inter-generational relationships.

The ending I found immensely satisfying, though I suspect there will be a few readers who might not agree with me. I guess it depends on how you feel about what constitutes justice.

In summation, this diabolical psychological thriller is a prime example of the fine writing of Gilly MacMillan. If you haven't yet tried one of her novels, this is an excellent one to start with. Just saying....
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,902 reviews1,432 followers
July 21, 2019
I imagine that the greatest compliment you could pay an author would be that you couldn’t put their book down. I couldn’t and Wimbledon is on and I love tennis but this book just had to be read! As the title implies the story centres around Hannah, nanny to Jocelyn, daughter of Lord and Lady Holt of Lake Hall a sort of Downton Abbey pile. Hannah is your worst nightmare- a manipulative, cruel, malicious, envious deceiver who covets the rich husbands and lures them in.

The story is told from then and now and from the perspective of Virginia (mother), Jocelyn and Hannah. The characters are really well created even if they are not especially likeable. The storyline is constantly interesting and intriguing and you want to understand who is telling the truth and who is being deceived. What becomes clear is that Hannah wants revenge and she will do her level best to get her pound of flesh. The ending was excellent. Gilly McMillan is a brilliant author who IMO never lets you down. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,002 reviews142 followers
August 14, 2019
After the death of her husband, Jocelyn "Jo" must return home with her ten-year-old daughter, Ruby. His death has left her in financial trouble, and she has no choice but to head back to Lake Hall, the aristocratic home she shared with her parents when growing up. It's a far cry from California where she lived with Chris and Ruby, escaping a stifling childhood with her mother. Jo's happiest childhood memories involve her nanny, Hannah, but Hannah disappeared suddenly one summer when Jo was seven. Her mother blamed Jo, and the two never repaired their relationship. Back now, thirty years later, Jo must deal with her mother and their fractured relationship. And when she and Ruby find a skull in the lake behind the house, she begins to wonder exactly what happened to Hannah. Jo isn't sure of anything anymore, or who she can trust, even her own memories.

"I'll never be able to change this place, but if we stay here long enough, I'm afraid it will change my daughter and me."

I've loved Gilly Macmillan and her books since I won one of them in a Librarything giveaway a few years ago. She's an excellent writer, and I quite enjoy how different each book is from the next. This one was very different and quite unexpected. It's told from a variety of alternating viewpoints--the primary ones being Jocelyn and her mother, Virginia, but we even get a local policeman and a mysterious woman dating back to the 1970s. I liked the way Macmillan wove all of of these perspectives together. At first, it seemed really easy to trust everyone, and then quickly, you realize that you can't be sure if you can believe either Jo or her mother.

I don't want to go too far or reveal too much, because it's probably better to let most of the plot reveal itself organically, but it's definitely easy to say that much of the book is a little befuddling (in a good way). I found myself drawn to Ruby, the young girl, and oddly, Virginia, despite her history as a pretty terrible parent. Jo frustrated me, with her somewhat naive nature. She would trust some things at face value, yet not others, and I wanted to shake her at points.

There are definitely some convoluted plot points in this one--there's quite a saga with the Holt legacy. I didn't really question it while I was reading, but after, I find myself wondering if it was all necessary. Still, I loved reading about the slightly faded grandeur of Lake Hall--it's just not something you get in America, and it's fun to picture when you read these type of novels. Macmillan does an excellent job of portraying her characters and the setting.

I definitely was caught up in the plot. I thought I had it figured out for a while, then I realized I didn't, and then the ending was a little crazy. I'm still not a 100% sure about it, but I appreciate Macmillan for embracing it. Overall, I enjoyed the varying viewpoints and the slightly fusty, aristocratic setting. I was interested in the characters and wondering what happened with Hannah. A few things seemed a little far-fetched, hence my 3.5-star rating, but still a good read.

I received a copy of this book from William Morrow and LibraryThing in return for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Kat.
Author 8 books326 followers
March 31, 2022
In THE NANNY, seven-year-old Jocelyn is very attached to her nanny Hannah, and doesn’t get along with her mother, Virginia. One night, there is a fight with her mother. The next morning, her nanny is gone. This psychological thriller is told from multiple POVs and in present day and flashback timeline. We meet up with Jocelyn 30 years later when she and her daughter Ruby are moving back in with her mother because of a death in the family. But secrets have a way of not staying buried and the truth of what may have happened to Hannah begins coming out piece by piece. I enjoyed the characters in this one especially, the twists the author revealed as the book got going, and the gripping mother-daughter conflict between Virginia and Jo. Most of the characters in the book were not particularly likeable, but they were all extremely interesting.
Profile Image for Judith E.
530 reviews188 followers
June 27, 2020
An ingenious plot with Gothic, aristocratic, highly dysfunctional, criminal characters.

And, all the signs are there, so for the love of God, why doesn’t she listen to her daughter?!?

4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Laura Rash Wonderchick.
1,237 reviews139 followers
June 27, 2019
I liked the idea of this one but it went off the rails a bit and was a tad predictable from the get go
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