By: Gilly MacMillan
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 09/10/2019
My Rating: 5 Stars Top Books of 2019 Author Q&A Interview 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.
“Atmospheric. THE NANNY is a beguiling mixture of The Great Gatsby and a Gothic-like intricate psychological thriller that chills as it intoxicates. Rich in place and character infused with greed, suspicion, and obsession. Alluring and Deliciously Creepy.”
Nanny or Mother?
One of my favorite authors, Gilly Macmillan, (have read all her books) returns following I Know You Know landing on my Top books of 2018 with THE NANNY –a complex multi-layered labyrinthine tale of dark family secrets, murder, deception, jealousy, art forgery, and plenty of red herrings. Top Books of 2019
The novel’s strength lies in its elements of mystery. The result is a page-turner that will keep readers guessing and heart-pounding until the end.
THE NANNY exposes the underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong. Everything you want and expect in a finely crafted psychological thriller! I loved it.🙌
Affluent Lord and Lady Holt owners of the prestigious Lake Hall property handed down from generations past. A vast mansion (Gothic like), stately home. A grand weekend getaway for this wealthy family in its prior years. Reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, with its glitz, art, glamour, dark secrets, and scandal.
The author’s vivid descriptions and evocative setting will draw you into this elegant, mysterious England setting overlooking a lake with beautiful grounds and gardens. There was nothing quite like it in this England village.
From past to present, years earlier young seven-year-old old Jocelyn Holt loved her nanny, Hannah. She did not think her mom had time for her. Her nanny was her best friend. Then one night she left with no reason, nor did she say good-bye. Oddly, Jo’s aristocratic parents find nothing sinister about Hannah’s disappearance.
Jocelyn feels as though her world ended when Hannah left. She was "her" everything. She was better than her Mother (Virginia), and Hannah loved her. Jocelyn resented her cold and unfeeling mom who seemed to have little time for her, and finally moved away to California and married Chris with a daughter of her own.
Jo and Ruby (her daughter) return home from California to her childhood home in England's Lake Hall after her husband Chris’ death. This opens a different world for Ruby to get to know her British grandmother; her history, and culture. Ruby knew little of what her mom’s life was growing up as a child.
Ruby, age ten, was a kid who was born and raised in California, whip-smart, kind, and an internet gamer, an ex-member of a girls’ soccer team, and a lifelong tomboy.
Jocelyn changed her name to Jo and refused to accept a penny from her parents. But now she is dependent on her mother’s charity. Her dad passed away from a heart attack only a few months before her dad. She adored her dad; however, she did not return for his funeral to avoid her mother.
Her mother and Jo are both widows. She can barely stand to be in the same room as her mother, but she has little choice. She does not want her mother controlling or influencing her daughter. However, Jo has some competition. Ruby likes Granny. But Jo is not fooled by her mother. Can she trust her?
One day while on the lake with her daughter, they find a skull. Then shortly after that unexpectedly, a woman comes knocking on their door stating she is Hannah. The nanny who left thirty years ago!
Is she Hannah or someone pretending to be her? Why is she returning now after all these years? Whose skull was found buried in the lake? Did someone drown, or was this woman killed by a murderer?
What if the skull belongs to her nanny? However, who is the woman who says she is Hannah?
Detective Constables Andy Wilson and Maxine are on the case, and he likes the idea of shaking things up at the big house. Everyone in the village thinks this family is strange and rumors are they bury bodies in the lake- a throwback to another century.
There is an investigation; however, some secrets are not meant to be kept silent. Is not knowing better than the real truth?
The author artfully builds an increasing sense of menace… cleverly keeping readers guessing with unreliable and intriguing narrators. The tension remains high with manipulation, greed, lies, and many twists and turns. Everyone has dark secrets, and as a reader, you are unsure whom to trust.
Virginia was a favorite character of mine! She evolves during the novel. Her daughter sees her as a seventy-year-old relic of the English aristocracy, cold, old fashioned, snobbish, selfish, greedy, privileged, and fluent in the Queen’s English. However, beneath the exterior, lies a very loyal and protective mother and grandmother. There are always two sides to a coin, and things are not always as they seem.
THE NANNY is multi-generational, and Macmillan explores the vastly different personalities in grandmother (Virginia), daughter (Jocelyn/Jo), and granddaughter (Ruby). I often find in historical fiction the older generation is much more intriguing.
They tend to hold secrets close to the belt, unlike the younger generation— which is more “tell-all” in our world of sharing and social media. I think the hidden secrets make them more enjoyable because you do not know what lies beneath their façade. Often children do not consider the sacrifices our parents make.
Oh my, Hannah is quite the character. She is drawn in by this grand home, like a set for a film or TV. She thinks if she can get a job at Lake Hall, the people in the village will look up to her. She will do whatever it takes, no matter if she crosses moral lines. However, has she met her match?
Motherhood is an ongoing theme in the novel. Jo is afraid her mother will try to shape and control Ruby the way she felt she was. However, in the end, there is more than meets the eye. A true mother’s love is one that protects.
Unpredictable, the author combines both historical and contemporary with cool emojis, texting, and social media interactions throughout the novel. Beautifully written with different timelines and POV.
The interesting cold case from the past collides with the present pulling you into this world of privilege. Those who want it and those who want to escape it.
Both character-driven and plot-driven which continues to be a strong skill of the author. As often the case, inside the world of glamour and wealth, there are dark, long-buried family secrets that gradually make their way to the surface.
Gilly captures both the idyllic beauty of the intriguing medieval manor house and its dark shadows of greed, power, and guilt.
This is no ordinary Nanny story. Fans of Mary Kubica, Heather Gudenkauf, Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key, Laura Lippman’s Lady in the Lake, and Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet will find a lot to like here. 💕 I highly recommend all of Gilly’s books.
Look for my upcoming Q&A Elevator ride with the author, coming 9/10 for more behind the scenes exclusives and fun facts about this acclaimed author. So excited!
A special thank you to William Morrow/HarperCollins and Edelweiss for an advanced reading copy.
“With its buried secrets, shifting allegiances, and creeping sense of dread, The Nanny pulses with tension until its shocking conclusion. I absolutely loved it!”
—Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door
"The Nanny kept me in white-knuckled suspense until the very last page. Gilly Macmillan's breakout thriller is a dark and twisted version of Downton Abbey gone very, very wrong."
—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of THE SHAPE OF NIGHT
"Thriller junkies will race through The Nanny. A brilliant blend of missing-person drama with some seriously spooky Gothic overtones."
—Linwood Barclay, New York Times bestselling author of Elevator Pitch
"The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan is a chilling, heartbreaking, beautifully-layered suspense novel. It's sharply observed, with jolts that knock you off your feet and characters who never fail to surprise."
—Lou Berney, Edgar Award winning author of November Road
"Exploding with secrets, The Nanny by master storyteller Gilly Macmillan has everything you dream for in a thriller: expertly drawn and complex characters, a terrifying premise and the best villain I've encountered on the page in a long time...Macmillan skilfully reveals long dormant family secrets in this atmospheric stunner...you won't be able to rest until the final, spine-tingling conclusion."
—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight Of Silence and Before She Was Found
"Secrets, lies, jealousy and betrayal… Elegantly structured and infused with a creeping sense of dread."
—Sarah Vaughan, Sunday Times bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal
"I was blown away by The Nanny. Original, twisty, unpredictable and taut with its buried secrets, the old creepy house and complex relationships. I never knew who to trust and the ending shocked me. This deserves to be huge!"
—Claire Douglas, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Sisters
"The Nanny will make you doubt everyone - including yourself. Some families are built on a bedrock of lies. This one is no exception. Clever and deliciously addictive."
—Jane Corry, Sunday Times bestselling author of My Husband's Wife
"A tense, assured and atmospheric thriller which will keep you guessing from page one right through to the shocking denouement. Brilliantly absorbing."
—Mel McGrath, USA Today bestselling author of Give Me The Child
"From the first page I wanted to know all the dark secrets this family were hiding. It’s a seriously addictive read and I never knew who to trust."
—Amy Lloyd, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Innocent Wife
"The plot sucked me in and the insidious build had me turning the pages rapidly."
—Jane Shemilt, Sunday Times bestselling author of Daughter
"Agatha Christie meets Harlan Coben... This novel’s intricate web of revelations brings you to a genuinely surprising place."
—Catherine Ryan Howard, USA Today bestselling author of Distress Signals
Author Q&A Interview
About the Author
Gilly Macmillan grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire, England, and also lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she's worked as a part-time photography teacher and is a full-time mom.
Gilly Macmillan is the internationally bestselling author of What She Knew (previously published in some territories as Burnt Paper Sky), The Perfect Girl, Odd Child Out and I Know You Know (September 2018). Her books have appeared on the New York Times, Globe & Mail and Der Spiegel bestseller lists. Read More