Lullaby, published in 2016, is a short but chilling thriller by the French author Leïla Slimani.
The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.
Lullaby begins by revealing the ending. These first sentences – advertised on the front cover – tell all. The intrigue to Lullaby is not what happened but why it happened. This engrossed me and raised the tension dramatically because I was constantly aware that danger could be lurking around every corner.
The book is about Louise, a polite and charming nanny with glowing references, who comes to work for Paul and Myriam and look after their two children. Myriam is delighted by Louise’s work ethic and the bond she has with the children. However, Myriam soon finds she is jealous and resentful, becoming increasingly suspicious of Louise and overly-protective of her children. Are Myriam’s suspicions well-founded, or just paranoid fears?
Lullaby is focused on the two maternal figures, Louise and Myriam, and addresses a contested issue: should mothers stay at home, or should they work? Myriam feels drawn to her law career, yet wonders if she is missing out on key quality time with her young children. As an interesting contrast, Louise becomes part of the family and adopts the role of the children’s “mother”. Yet, whilst Louise may look like a stay-at-home mum, this is just her job – she isn’t really their mother.
The book ends when I wasn’t ready for it to end. I wanted to know more about the attack and the police investigation afterwards. I wanted to know more about Louise and Myriam’s emotional and mental states. I suppose, however, that’s why Lullaby is a suspense novel and not a crime novel – it leaves you wanting more.
I found Lullaby to be a creepy and engrossing novel. It may not be my favourite thriller ever, but it was nonetheless enjoyable.