In the Hollywood Hills, a smart, damaged mother of two hires a nanny so she can work on a memoir—but the younger woman is no less a piece of work than she is and intent on an art project of her own.
Lepucki’s (California, 2014, etc.) third work of fiction is a stylish dramedy in he said, she said style. One narrator is Lady Daniels, who has just sold a memoir based on a magazine article she wrote about her 18-year-old son, Seth, a charismatic child who's never spoken though he has no disability and can communicate with irony and insight using American Sign Language, his iPad, and his Twitter feed. Now she needs someone to take care of Devin, her extroverted toddler, so she can work on her book—and it won’t be his father, Karl, since she just kicked him out of the house. He’s staying with his famous-artist sister, who took the revealing photo of Lady titled Woman No. 17. The other narrator is Lady’s new nanny, a recent college graduate whose real name is Esther Shapiro but who's going by S Fowler. Among the many things S does not reveal in her job interview is the fact that she's just begun a conceptual art project devoted to impersonating her mother as a young woman—even though her mother was and is an impulsive, unbalanced alcoholic. Lady and Esther have much in common (to the point that you sometimes forget which one you’re reading). Both had terrible mothers, both lie easily and often, and both are obsessed with Seth. These things draw them together less as friends than as self-involved dervishes on a collision course.
Always enjoyable if not always believable, this novel succeeds by staying light on its feet. Or, as one character puts it, “Please don’t monetize my bunny.”