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The Caretakers

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Set in a wealthy Parisian suburb, an emotionally riveting debut told from the point of view of six women, and centered around a group of au pairs, one of whom is arrested after a sudden and suspicious tragedy strikes her host family--a dramatic exploration of identity, class, and caregiving from a profoundly talented new writer. Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chau Set in a wealthy Parisian suburb, an emotionally riveting debut told from the point of view of six women, and centered around a group of au pairs, one of whom is arrested after a sudden and suspicious tragedy strikes her host family--a dramatic exploration of identity, class, and caregiving from a profoundly talented new writer. Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chauvet home in the affluent suburban community of Maisons-Larue, watching as the family's American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge. The grieving mother believes the caretaker is to blame, and the neighborhood is thrown into chaos, unsure who is at fault--the enigmatic, young foreigner or the mother herself, who has never seemed an active participant in the lives of her children. The truth lies with six women: Geraldine, a heartbroken French teacher struggling to support her vulnerable young students; Lou, an incompetent au pair who was recently fired by the family next door; Charlotte, a chilly socialite and reluctant mother; Nathalie, an isolated French teenager desperate for her mother's attention; Holly, a socially anxious au pair yearning to belong in her adopted country; and finally, Alena, the one accused of the crime, who has gone to great lengths to avoid emotional connection, and now finds herself caught in the turbulent power dynamics of her host family's household. Set during the weeks leading up to the event, The Caretakers is a poignant and suspenseful drama featuring complicated women. It's a sensitive exploration of the weight of secrets, the pressures of country, community, and family--and miscommunications and misunderstandings that can have fatal consequences.


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Set in a wealthy Parisian suburb, an emotionally riveting debut told from the point of view of six women, and centered around a group of au pairs, one of whom is arrested after a sudden and suspicious tragedy strikes her host family--a dramatic exploration of identity, class, and caregiving from a profoundly talented new writer. Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chau Set in a wealthy Parisian suburb, an emotionally riveting debut told from the point of view of six women, and centered around a group of au pairs, one of whom is arrested after a sudden and suspicious tragedy strikes her host family--a dramatic exploration of identity, class, and caregiving from a profoundly talented new writer. Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chauvet home in the affluent suburban community of Maisons-Larue, watching as the family's American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge. The grieving mother believes the caretaker is to blame, and the neighborhood is thrown into chaos, unsure who is at fault--the enigmatic, young foreigner or the mother herself, who has never seemed an active participant in the lives of her children. The truth lies with six women: Geraldine, a heartbroken French teacher struggling to support her vulnerable young students; Lou, an incompetent au pair who was recently fired by the family next door; Charlotte, a chilly socialite and reluctant mother; Nathalie, an isolated French teenager desperate for her mother's attention; Holly, a socially anxious au pair yearning to belong in her adopted country; and finally, Alena, the one accused of the crime, who has gone to great lengths to avoid emotional connection, and now finds herself caught in the turbulent power dynamics of her host family's household. Set during the weeks leading up to the event, The Caretakers is a poignant and suspenseful drama featuring complicated women. It's a sensitive exploration of the weight of secrets, the pressures of country, community, and family--and miscommunications and misunderstandings that can have fatal consequences.

30 review for The Caretakers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    I think I'm destined to end 2021 on a run of mediocre reads because this is my third in a row! I'm always up for a good "bad nanny" read, and this one sounded intriguing as it features American au pairs in France. It started out promising - with a crowd gathering outside of an affluent community of Maisons-Larue, just outside of Paris, watching as an American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge, Julien. The crowd doesn't know who to blame though - the au p I think I'm destined to end 2021 on a run of mediocre reads because this is my third in a row! I'm always up for a good "bad nanny" read, and this one sounded intriguing as it features American au pairs in France. It started out promising - with a crowd gathering outside of an affluent community of Maisons-Larue, just outside of Paris, watching as an American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge, Julien. The crowd doesn't know who to blame though - the au pair or the seemingly absent mother, who also seems to have more than her share of tragedy when it comes to her children. Ultimately, the truth lies with six women (yes, 6!) : three American au pairs, a French teacher, Julien's mother, and his teenaged sister, and from that point on it went downhill with record-breaking speed, as all six are so unlikeable that it is an effort to care about any of them. There are also many secondary characters, including the host families of the other American au pairs, the French teacher's American ex-husband and daughter, and their back stories are all included as well. The mystery is a whodunnit surrounding Julien's death - but not really, as there is so much other drama surrounding all the women, that the mystery gets lost. There is nothing inherently awful about this book, but there's nothing spectacular either. It is a snails-pace moving mystery (definitely not a thriller) with too many characters that all sort of blend together. There is also WAY too much back story and information on all of the characters. I found my eyes glazing over more than once, and nothing about the back stories was relevant in any way to the mystery of what happened to Julien. It was actually quite easy to deduce who caused Julien's death, but by the time it was all revealed, it all felt rather anticlimactic. In the end, a debut with an interesting premise, but the poor execution and the overabundance of characters made this barely a 3-star read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ceecee

    3.5 rounded down This novel has an interesting premise as it examines the experience of American au pairs in an affluent Parisian suburb. It starts with a fatal accident at the Chauvet home and through interviews and multiple points of view we eventually learn the truth of what has occurred. Much against my initial expectation, I do find myself being pulled into the storyline despite how truly awful some of the characters are. Through these various perspectives we see the truth of Philip Larkins f 3.5 rounded down This novel has an interesting premise as it examines the experience of American au pairs in an affluent Parisian suburb. It starts with a fatal accident at the Chauvet home and through interviews and multiple points of view we eventually learn the truth of what has occurred. Much against my initial expectation, I do find myself being pulled into the storyline despite how truly awful some of the characters are. Through these various perspectives we see the truth of Philip Larkins famous poem about mums and dads. The damage, the dysfunctionality and the dynamics are really good. The characters are mostly interesting even though not easy to like and there’s a good range from selfish to enigmatic to mysterious. It’s a good portrayal of the challenges these American au pair‘s face not only with the children but also the language and an immensely different culture. It’s a good portrait of the core of what it is like to be French, the spirit of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité and how this impacts on its people, what life is like in the suburbs and it shines a light on class and culture. In the background and at one point very much in the forefront is the devastating terrorist attacks of 2015/16 and its effect on France and on various characters. However, despite the above I have a number of reservations although I can’t deny the book is well written. At the start of the book the tone strikes a very discordant note as a serious event has occurred but the language seems at odds with that. On occasion it has the feel of a French farce which also seems wrong. There are multiple points of you leading to too many characters and I’m uncertain of what at least to actually brings to the table. Each character has a backstory which are way too long so what happens at the Chauvet household gets lost. This causes the pace to become very slow and at times I’m drifting to boredom. The chapters – can you call them that? They are MUCH too long and that means the route we take to get to what we want to know is circuitous. It’s definitely not a thriller, yes there’s a soupçon of mystery but it is an interesting character driven study and an exploration of dysfunction and parental responsibility. With thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown Book Group for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julia Phillips

    I've had such a tough time reading this year, but I gobbled this book up in one night. Thank goodness for great writing I've had such a tough time reading this year, but I gobbled this book up in one night. Thank goodness for great writing

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I love this novel and the way it shows the fine line that young American au pairs working for wealthy French families have to walk. Though the book takes place in Paris, the ups and downs of navigating work and family relationships are universal. Amanda Bestor-Siegal shows that life in the City of Light can be very dark. I have lived in Paris for over twenty years and appreciate the authenticity of this novel, which strives to give a true portrayal of what life is like here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    DNF at 47% The narrator was ok but I was so bored! There were too many characters with extremely long, boring back stories. It distracted from the mystery that I was most curious about. Unfortunately, I got to a point where I didn’t care anymore.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Chappell

    Amanda Bestor-Siegal’s THE CARETAKERS is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read. This book is for many kinds of readers, but, as a former au pair in Paris, I felt it delve, electrically so, into a quarry of memory I thought I had misplaced, left in another world. Bestor-Siegal expertly captures the harrowing and humbling intimacy of being a childcare worker in someone else’s home, in someone else’s country, in someone else’s language. My heart burned as I met these women, as I recognize Amanda Bestor-Siegal’s THE CARETAKERS is one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read. This book is for many kinds of readers, but, as a former au pair in Paris, I felt it delve, electrically so, into a quarry of memory I thought I had misplaced, left in another world. Bestor-Siegal expertly captures the harrowing and humbling intimacy of being a childcare worker in someone else’s home, in someone else’s country, in someone else’s language. My heart burned as I met these women, as I recognized the curvatures of their grief, their gumption. I ache with gratitude for this work, that writhes with a truly rare emotional intelligence. Following the close portraits of Bestor-Siegal’s women, in this Paris, as they navigate the soul-effacing and self-dividing forces of class and cultural struggles is just the kind of high-stakes spiritual suspense I love.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily Monaco

    If, like me, you're forever starved for a book about France that feels authentic and real instead of rose-tinted, this book is the one for you. Each of the characters in this beautifully crafted, deeply empathetic book captivated me. It's a testament to the author's talent and mastery of voice that I found myself hating and loving each of them in equal measure, always sad to see one protagonist's voice fade, yet always happy to encounter the one that came next. By weaving past and present, flashb If, like me, you're forever starved for a book about France that feels authentic and real instead of rose-tinted, this book is the one for you. Each of the characters in this beautifully crafted, deeply empathetic book captivated me. It's a testament to the author's talent and mastery of voice that I found myself hating and loving each of them in equal measure, always sad to see one protagonist's voice fade, yet always happy to encounter the one that came next. By weaving past and present, flashback and current events, this book, which is set within a small community of au pairs in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Paris in 2015, manages to display a portrait of the city (and its much misunderstood suburbs) that stands in stark contrast with illustrations of the city I've seen come before. It's a slow burn that, upon finishing, left me at once satisfied and wishing that there was more!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Rolland

    The Caretakers is such a beautifully-written book, as lovely to read at a sentence level as it is engaging and mysterious in the plot. As part of a bilingual French-English family, the Parisian landscape is familiar to me and is so well-described here, with that long-winter sense of melancholy and unease after the terrorist attacks. I found the dynamics between the characters believable and the questions of motherhood, guilt, and anxiety so intriguing as well. Highly recommend.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Feldman

    I was riveted from the first page! The author expertly weaves an expansive cast of characters into a murder mystery that's also an exploration of class, culture, family, and parenting. The women in this book are sharp, complicated, and intriguing, and the world of wealthy Parisian families and their au pairs is fascinating. It has an epic feel even as it dives into our most personal experiences. I was riveted from the first page! The author expertly weaves an expansive cast of characters into a murder mystery that's also an exploration of class, culture, family, and parenting. The women in this book are sharp, complicated, and intriguing, and the world of wealthy Parisian families and their au pairs is fascinating. It has an epic feel even as it dives into our most personal experiences.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I understand this is the author's first novel and woud like to praise Amanda for the maturity of her writing as well as her unique approach. She doesn't try to 'educate' the reader about French culture in a patronising way, (a trap which would be easy to fall into) but manages to impart a number of well-observed nuggets. As a former au pair in France myself, the plot summary of 'The Caretakers' immediately appealed to me. Unless a person has actually had experience of this type of work, it is di I understand this is the author's first novel and woud like to praise Amanda for the maturity of her writing as well as her unique approach. She doesn't try to 'educate' the reader about French culture in a patronising way, (a trap which would be easy to fall into) but manages to impart a number of well-observed nuggets. As a former au pair in France myself, the plot summary of 'The Caretakers' immediately appealed to me. Unless a person has actually had experience of this type of work, it is difficult to convey the loneliness, challenges and also privilege it provides. Amanda Bestor-Siegal does an excellent job of conveying some of the gritty realities but without hyberbole and with a lot of balance. As others have stated, the story is told from the perspectives of a number of characters, although not in the first person. With the exception of Lou, they each only have one narrative and it is through them that we learn what has happened to Julien Chauvet. I was initially intrigued in discovering the truth about the boy and whether Alena is indeed to blame but as I read further, I became increasingly interested in the individual stories too. Amanda manages to perfectly conjur up the communication difficulties between loved ones and strangers alike, She voices thoughts we all have when interacting with others and illustrates the disparity between what we know we should do or what we actually want to do yet still choose the wrong path. Once you start reading The Caretakers, you will want to continue. I really enjoyed it and hope Amanda is working on her next book! Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tami (Books Bengals and Coffee)

    Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us. —Marcel Proust. It's not til the end of this book that you realize just how well placed this one quote is at the epigraph. This book captivated me from the very beginning. As an American, I too have dreamed of living in what I imagine Paris to be, knowing my perception is most likely different from that of Parisians. This story is told from multiple viewpoints at different places in time. We know from the start the community is built o Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us. —Marcel Proust. It's not til the end of this book that you realize just how well placed this one quote is at the epigraph. This book captivated me from the very beginning. As an American, I too have dreamed of living in what I imagine Paris to be, knowing my perception is most likely different from that of Parisians. This story is told from multiple viewpoints at different places in time. We know from the start the community is built on host families, au pairs and a tragic death will occur, but how it all plays out kept me coming back for more and more. Was murder involved? Bestol-Seigal does an exceptional job at giving each character an authentic voice. The book gave me new insight into the au pair world. We all know au pairs live with families to care for children but I didn’t know about communities and how au pairs from other countries would meet others and form friendships. I didn’t know about au pair language classes. While the chapters are divided by characters and on the long side (something I'm betting the final edit will resolve), I enjoyed the book immensely. I'm left with words from au pair, Holly, "But I guess...when I moved to Paris I came with me," which reminds me you can never escape your past or "reinvent" yourself. Your history is part of you good or bad and you bring those experiences with you into your future decisions and adventures. You just have to stay open throughout life. Thank you to the publishers and netgalley for this ARC.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this debut literary mystery, set in an affluent Parisian suburb in 2015. It drew me in fairly quickly, and held my fascination to the end. It starts out with the mysterious death of 9 year old Julien, the youngest of three children of Charlotte. We then move to the “persons of interest”, or maybe just the witnessses to Julien’s circumstances and the scope of the neighborhood. Not being a Francophile or a fan of domestic suspense, I was still entranced by the det I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this debut literary mystery, set in an affluent Parisian suburb in 2015. It drew me in fairly quickly, and held my fascination to the end. It starts out with the mysterious death of 9 year old Julien, the youngest of three children of Charlotte. We then move to the “persons of interest”, or maybe just the witnessses to Julien’s circumstances and the scope of the neighborhood. Not being a Francophile or a fan of domestic suspense, I was still entranced by the details of the setting and the inner lives of the characters. Besides Charlotte, who is hiding her background and is not a terribly involved mother, we meet several American au pairs, a sympathetic black French teacher, and other assorted neighborhood residents. At first, I found the shifts from character to character a little distancing, but soon this structure made the book sing for me. This story just came alive on the page. Each character is well developed with her inner feelings brought forth in a compelling manner. The setting felt so realistic that I could picture the school where the au pairs took French language class, the insides of the suburban homes, the Parisian hostels and bars, and all the other settings. I also appreciated the subtle social commentary running through the story, especially the portrait of race in France depicted through Geraldine’s observations. The mystery is propulsive, but it is not a police procedural. There is questioning by the police and an investigation, but it is more of a slow path towards understanding how his horrible death could happen. This will definitely be a hit with book clubs and I am guessing a limited series is on the way. I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by the amazing Saakia Maareveld, whose fluency with French and English is impressive, and whose character portrayals are magnificent, as always. A great listening experience.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julia Rose

    It’s an odd feeling when your faith in humanity is affirmed not by something uplifting, but by something devastating, if only because it is presented in such humane, nonjudgmental detail. I felt this way reading “The Caretakers,” which is a lovingly-rendered map of a tragedy. Its central landmark is the death of a child, but its terrain is varied, showing us the painful interior worlds of six women living in a suburb of Paris against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks that shocked the city in It’s an odd feeling when your faith in humanity is affirmed not by something uplifting, but by something devastating, if only because it is presented in such humane, nonjudgmental detail. I felt this way reading “The Caretakers,” which is a lovingly-rendered map of a tragedy. Its central landmark is the death of a child, but its terrain is varied, showing us the painful interior worlds of six women living in a suburb of Paris against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks that shocked the city in 2015. Although the book mentions “karma” with some skepticism, the way these characters’ choices feel so inescapable based on the specific nature of their wounds could be described as karmic. If not karma, then physics: the pull of each one on the others, the way a deeply-buried hurt will cause each one to overcompensate, lash out, hide, lie, show off—it all feels like some law of nature being observed by the author with a scientist’s precision. Bestor-Siegal presents this knot of human struggle with the utmost gentleness and a humbling expertise. Lou, Géraldine, Charlotte, Holly, Nathalie, and Alena are all asking big questions of themselves and of the world: who belongs (to a place, to a family, to a loved one), and who doesn’t? Who is trusted with—and who is worthy of—the enormous responsibility of caring for another person? What does it mean to take care, anyway? Is caring a burden, a gift, a method of control, a choice, or some combination of the above? What does it mean to own something, to commit to it for life, as opposed to renting something, merely trying it on? And how much control do we ever really have over our lives? If you have some quiet time you can devote to this book, give it your full attention. As I read, I kept tabs on my favorite passages, and eventually ran out of sticky notes—it feels like there’s a moment every other page that taps you on the shoulder and calmly demonstrates a truth about the human condition while staring directly into your eyes. This is a tough needle to thread, but the author threads it exquisitely, because not once did I want to look away. It’s like the Ghost of Christmas Future pointing at your grave while offering you a box of tissues and a croissant. It nods, and pats you on the back, and you can’t help but be grateful for what it’s showing you. In short, this book is a stunner. I’m no sports aficionado, but to produce this book your first time out of the gate can only be considered a slam dunk. It’s a debut novel and it’s a masterpiece. Amanda Bestor-Siegal’s voice is an empathetic and essential one in these unforgiving times. Read “The Caretakers” and be forgiven.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    This is a wonderful book, filled with beautiful writing and such sharp insight about Paris and its 1%ers. Most highly recommended!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vera Long

    Intermingling stories of four au pairs and their host families in a Paris suburb are told to foreshadow the death of an 8 yr old child from one family. Each American au pair has an interesting back story that brings them to France, as do two of the host families. Fascinating insights into the teenage mind. Interesting, yes — surprising, yes, — shocking, yes. I couldn’t put it down!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janet Skeslien Charles

    I love this novel and the way it shows the fine line that young American au pairs working for wealthy French families have to walk. Though the book takes place in Paris, the ups and downs of navigating work and family relationships are universal.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claire C

    Great inter-generational friendships, intriguing themes, absolutely love.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Savannah Smith

    I LOVED this book!! I stayed up all night and read to the very end. Definitely an enjoyable read

  19. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Boring.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Clernick

    My heart swelled reading this emotive look at the intersecting lives of women in France. Unwinding the plot and finding out what happens provides momentum and can keep me turning pages, but the real mystery of the book is what is in the souls of its characters, who are complex and flawed and so real that they feel like people I've met. In addition to this careful exploration of what it means to be alive and full of responsibility and choice and potential, this is an intimate look at a side of Pa My heart swelled reading this emotive look at the intersecting lives of women in France. Unwinding the plot and finding out what happens provides momentum and can keep me turning pages, but the real mystery of the book is what is in the souls of its characters, who are complex and flawed and so real that they feel like people I've met. In addition to this careful exploration of what it means to be alive and full of responsibility and choice and potential, this is an intimate look at a side of Paris and nearby neighborhoods that many of us do not see.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Gietzen

    3.5 Loved the cover - so pretty!! (Cover = 5) I don’t know why but I had a really hard time getting through this book. The chapters were really long and somehow that was off putting. By the end of the book the story came full circle but it really veered so far off of the main “mystery” of what happened to the boy, that by the time it got sorted I was just kind of done with it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    Read for Booklist. A lyrical and affecting book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Isabella (The Feminist Bookworm)

    My immediate question after reading this was, "Has Reese read it?" Mark my words, this is the next Big Little Lies. My immediate question after reading this was, "Has Reese read it?" Mark my words, this is the next Big Little Lies.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    This debut mystery/domestic suspense book had a great premise: a group of nannies/au pairs in Paris and the families they work for. Lots of secrets, affairs, lies and a murder. But honestly for me there was just way too much going on. It was hard to keep the characters and story lines straight and none of them truly kept my interest. Great on audio narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, but even her amazing voice talents couldn't save this one for me. Sadly it just didn't live up to my expectations but This debut mystery/domestic suspense book had a great premise: a group of nannies/au pairs in Paris and the families they work for. Lots of secrets, affairs, lies and a murder. But honestly for me there was just way too much going on. It was hard to keep the characters and story lines straight and none of them truly kept my interest. Great on audio narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, but even her amazing voice talents couldn't save this one for me. Sadly it just didn't live up to my expectations but I would still read the next book by this talented writer. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ALC!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maria Smith

    This book is set in a fictional area of Maison Larue 15 mins outside of Paris and is told through the voices of a number of characters. A child dies, the au pair is arrested. The book started well and very promising and I had high hopes for this one, but overall it was a 3 star book. I felt it was the voice of too many characters, some more interesting that others, and my mind started to wander with the less interesting perspectives. I felt the book was a tad too long and would have been a more This book is set in a fictional area of Maison Larue 15 mins outside of Paris and is told through the voices of a number of characters. A child dies, the au pair is arrested. The book started well and very promising and I had high hopes for this one, but overall it was a 3 star book. I felt it was the voice of too many characters, some more interesting that others, and my mind started to wander with the less interesting perspectives. I felt the book was a tad too long and would have been a more enjoyable read if shortened - there's a level of unnecessary detail that was included that really didn't have any impact on the story itself. Nevertheless it was a good 3 star read. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This novel begins with the arrest of an American au pair. The youngest son of Charlotte Chauvet, Julien Chauvet, is carried out of the house, while the neighbours watch. Those mother who work blame the au pair, while those mothers who stay at home, blame the mother…. It is 2016 and we are in Paris in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. The city is on edge, and this takes an interesting look at a group of outsiders in Paris; American au pairs who are both part of a family and yet employed by This novel begins with the arrest of an American au pair. The youngest son of Charlotte Chauvet, Julien Chauvet, is carried out of the house, while the neighbours watch. Those mother who work blame the au pair, while those mothers who stay at home, blame the mother…. It is 2016 and we are in Paris in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. The city is on edge, and this takes an interesting look at a group of outsiders in Paris; American au pairs who are both part of a family and yet employed by them. Although I liked the premise of this book, I felt it got bogged down. We hear of events through the point of view of Charlotte Chauvet, her daughter, Nathalie, a French teacher and three of the au pairs. In hearing all of their stories, the book seems to lose contact with the central event and the meandering character stories means there is a lack of tension. Indeed, where the book is successful is in painting a portrait of being an au pair, with all of the problems and issues that can go wrong. I think concentrating on the au pairs, and perhaps the teacher, might have narrowed the focus and made the storyline more compelling, but perhaps that was just me. I received a copy of the book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aileen Weintraub

    This book drew me in from the first page with vivid descriptions and engaging writing as we learn of a young boy's murder. The six women in the book, whose lives are interwoven, are deeply complex and intriguing. The author has crafted a masterful story of secrets, betrayal, grief, loneliness, and love. The realities of the class and cultural divide against the backdrop of Paris are both heartbreaking and eye opening. This book drew me in from the first page with vivid descriptions and engaging writing as we learn of a young boy's murder. The six women in the book, whose lives are interwoven, are deeply complex and intriguing. The author has crafted a masterful story of secrets, betrayal, grief, loneliness, and love. The realities of the class and cultural divide against the backdrop of Paris are both heartbreaking and eye opening.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Read Rover

    This book burned slower than the tip of a French cigarette!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! quelle tragédie!

  29. 4 out of 5

    miss.mesmerized mesmerized

    When Lou comes to Paris, she has quite different ideas from those of the family she works for as an au pair. Yet, her greatest concern is to leave behind her old life. Alena, another au pair, also has left much behind, but in contrast to her outgoing and loud colleague, she hardly speaks to any of the other girls and does not make friends in their language course. Holly first and foremost feels totally alone and only wants to be the friend of any of them. Geraldine, their teacher keeps them toge When Lou comes to Paris, she has quite different ideas from those of the family she works for as an au pair. Yet, her greatest concern is to leave behind her old life. Alena, another au pair, also has left much behind, but in contrast to her outgoing and loud colleague, she hardly speaks to any of the other girls and does not make friends in their language course. Holly first and foremost feels totally alone and only wants to be the friend of any of them. Geraldine, their teacher keeps them together and gathers information about the host families, especially the mothers. Such as Charlotte, who does not work but needs an au pair to comply with the social demands she perceives. Well, she actually does not have much time for her children as her marriage is beyond the point where anything could have put them together again and she prepares its final blow. For none of the inhabitants of the posh Parisian suburb anything is easy in the winter when the city is under terrorist attacks. Amanda Bestor-Siegal has created quite a number of complex characters who are linked randomly even though they hardly share anything. The most striking aspect they all show is a feeling of being alone, being misunderstood by the world and questioning the decisions they have made. “The Caretakers” is about people who do not really take care, who cannot take care as they are not at ease with themselves. They try to comply with expectations they can never fulfil and are always at the fringe of total despair. I found it easy to relate to some of the characters when their background is revealed and you get to understand how they could end up where they are at that point in their life. Showing the same event from different perspectives surely added to underline the complexity of their personalities and the mixed feelings they have. However, springing from one character to the next was a bit distracting and forced you to refocus again and again. Throughout the novel there is also a mysterious aspect about a child’s death. Even though the quest for the answer of what happened could be felt, I could have done without that element as the focus was more on the characters and less on the mystery. I enjoyed reading the novel due to the nuances in the characters’ emotions and minute differences in the cultures that are presented.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Susan J Bociek

    I loved this book. Young women have chosen to start their working lives in the role as an au pair - living with moderately rich families in Paris. They live with the family and are allegedly treated as one of the family, receiving a small allowance and some free time. Part of their contract is that they enrol in French class, in the hope that they will learn to speak fluent French. But like all families, all is not perfect; there are neglectful parents; adulterous parents; jealous parents. There I loved this book. Young women have chosen to start their working lives in the role as an au pair - living with moderately rich families in Paris. They live with the family and are allegedly treated as one of the family, receiving a small allowance and some free time. Part of their contract is that they enrol in French class, in the hope that they will learn to speak fluent French. But like all families, all is not perfect; there are neglectful parents; adulterous parents; jealous parents. There is also the French 'etiquette', which despite appearances, is not an easy-going natural phenomena. The au pairs from the USA get a lot of support from their French teacher - but one day, a terrible accident happens to one of the children, a young boy - and all eyes fall on the au pair. The book contains a few French colloquialisms which could be mystifying, but overall a very good read.

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