The Au Pairby Published 08 Jan 2019
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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.
"The Au Pair" Reviews
Twisted, compulsively readable psychological thriller that centers on deeply hidden family secrets.
25-year-old Seraphine buried her father 3 weeks ago and is struggling. While she has her twin brother, Danny, and older brother, Edwin, to offer support, she feels like an outsider in her family--she always has. Her mother committed suicide the day she and Danny were born, and now parentless, she seeks to find answers to the questions she had about her mother’s death.
As she tries to uncover what happened the day her mother died, she begins to question her own origins. There is only one person she believes has the answers she seeks: Laura, Edwin’s childhood Au Pair, Laura, who was present for her birth. She tracks down Laura, but in doing so finds herself in danger. But one begins to wonder if Seraphine really is in danger or if there is something else at play?
The narrative alternates between the past in 1991 to the present, with the events being recounted by Laura and the present by Seraphine. Seraphine made for an enthralling narrator. Many a time, I was questioning the reliability of her version of events.
I couldn’t put this book down--it takes a bit for the story to really take off, but as it became clear that there were many secrets and lies to uncover, I got sucked in! I had a theory early on about some of the mysterious secrets and I was correct...but while I figured out the who, I could never have guessed the how and the why. I love a book that keeps me guessing! I knocked this down a half a star due to the believability factor. It gets a little overly complicated and convoluted towards the end but at the same time the fascinating narrators and web of lies to expose kept me riveted. Overall I found this to be a captivating read!
I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway!
Mystique, atmosphere, and surprising twists!
This novel was so captivating that I did not want to put it down! There is a compelling aura of mystery that hovers around the birth of the twins- Seraphine and Danny.
The twins were born at home at the family's beautiful, sprawling Norfolk estate. A photograph is taken of the parents, their older son Edwin, and their mother, Ruth. Although, she is only holding only one of her newborn twins. Where is the second twin? Which one is in the photograph? The novel will reveal the unpredictable answers.
The setting with the estate's beautiful gardens, the near-by beach and the menacing cliffs was atmospheric. The gardener who tells spooky tales. and a young nanny hired by the family, make this story enchanting and seductive with some gothic vibes.
The secrets come out in the second half of the story and you may be able to catch some hints to what is going on along the way. I was flipping pages as fast as I could while more twists continued until they turned into a full blown tornado! I thought I was ahead of the game, but OH NO, take my word for it, I was stunned.
An elegantly written suspense novel and I loved it. Highly recommend!
Such a page turner, I ended up finishing it in a day. It's just one of those good old popcorn eating reads in which you can't wait to see how everything unfolds.
Seraphine and her twin brother Danny were only hours old when their mother committed suicide off the cliffs of the Norfolk coast. Now an adult, Seraphine is mourning the death of her father. While going through his possessions at the family estate, she uncovers a family photograph of her parents, older brother Edwin, and a baby on what looks like the day she and Danny were born. But what strikes Seraphine is odd is her mother is smiling in the photo even though in a mere matter of hours she kills herself and there is only one baby in the photograph. What does this mean and will she be able to find the answers she is looking for even though so many years have passed?
In terms of sheer entertainment, this was a 5 star read. I loved the dual timelines of the present with Seraphine and the past with the au pair, Laura. The story does become a little complicated towards the end and there were times I had to pause and get everything squared away in my head before I could continue reading. I think some valid points could be made on whether the story is realistic however this book has that weird, creepy but fun, trainwreck type vibe that whether or not it is believable doesn't really matter much to me. This is the type of book you read when you want to escape from your life and read about the crazy, messed up lives of other people. A perfect vacation read!
I received a free copy in the mail from the publisher but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
The Au Pair is a delicious, old-fashioned mystery complete with a gothic setting and a clever plot puzzle that just begs to be solved.
While not exactly a psychological suspense type story, I found it to be just as page-turnable as any thriller. I thought I had most of the puzzle figured out, but it is a bit complicated and I could never work out one piece of the puzzle. That piece, indeed, turned out to be the biggest reveal at the end.
If you are an Agatha Christie fan at heart, you will adore this haunting and lovingly told cozy mystery. Also, perfect for fans of Rebecca and The Death of Mrs. Westaway.
Many thanks to Netgalley for my early copy! Strictly my own opinions.
Thank you to the publisher Berkley who provided an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.
Summerbourne is an English country estate set against the beach and cliffs, a beloved refuge of the Summerbourne family. However, over the years it has suffered heartbreaking tragedies involving the death of a twin, and the suicide of a mother. In 1992 Ruth Mayes (Summerbourne heir) threw herself off the cliff in back of the house on the same day she gave birth to twins Seraphine and Danny. Several years earlier she had given birth to twins Edwin and Theo, but Theo died after falling from the cliff shortly after his second birthday. In fact, Summerbourne has a mystic reputation among the villagers for not letting the family keep their twins. In the years since their births, Seraphine and Danny have been nicknamed the "Summerbourne Sprites" by some of the neighbors. There was no midwife at the house when Seraphine and Danny were born. Also, Seraphine was much larger and robust than Danny, and she sported a different skin tone. As they grew their sizes became comparable, but the mystery and horror of what their mother did always left an unsettling feeling and unanswered questions.
Seraphine loves the Summerbourne estate more than her twin brother Danny and hopes that one day her grandmother Vera will leave it to her. She's still reeling from the recent accidental death of their father Dominic, who was found bloodied and fallen from a ladder by the garage. She's exploring the contents of her father's desk and finds a family photo from the day she and Danny were born. However, in the photo her mother Ruth is holding just one baby. This fact ignites the old uncertainties surrounding her birth and that of her twin brother Danny. Her mother looks serene in the photo, with no inkling that she would throw herself off the cliff just hours later. Also, Seraphine remembers that an eighteen year old au pair named Laura had worked for the Mayes that year, but left the family right after the births. Did Laura take the picture? Maybe she can provide critical insight of that momentous day in 1992, because SHE WAS THERE. To that end, a determined and driven Seraphine sets off to find the former au pair.
This is a story of a privileged family that has known tragedy and is guarding secrets. It is a slowly unraveling mystery that culminates in a riveting, yet sobering conclusion.