Published by Berkley Books on January 8th 2019
A grand estate, terrible secrets, and a young woman who bears witness to it all. If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’ The Au Pair would be it.
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.
Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.
Who is the child and what really happened that day?
One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.
Serephine and her twin brother Danny have just lost their father in a most unfortunate accident. As Serephine begins to look through her father’s belongings, she finds a photograph of her mother on the day of their birth. Her mother looks happy and but is holding only one baby. Which of them is it? And why, shortly after being photographed looking so content, did she fling herself off a cliff??
The Norfolk Coast and more specifically the Summerbourne estate provides an atmospheric backdrop for The Au Pair. The book is told in narratives alternating between that of Seraphine, who is desperately seeking answers to mysteries surrounding her own identity and Laura, the former Summerbourne nanny who may have the answers. The book quickly becomes a pager-turner and maintains a fast and easy-to-read pace throughout.
The plot was very interesting with multiple layers to the mystery. I loved that the author chose to weave the element of local folklore into the story. It provided a little bit of rural charm which seemed quite realistic given the setting.
While I found the ending to be less satisfying than the rest of the book, I chalk that up to my own intolerance to having to suspend even the slightest bit disbelief. A bit incongruous for a fan of psychological thrillers, I realize…
Overall, I found The Au Pair to be a very enjoyable read and an impressive debut. I would certainly look forward to reading Emma Rous’s next book.
Many thanks to Berkley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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