Title: The Au Pair
Author: Emma Rous
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
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ARC provided by publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion.
Long-buried family secrets and one woman who knows it all, Emma Rous’ thriller of a debut makes one question Who am I if I’m not who I thought I was?
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.
Deliciously intriguing, atmospheric and oh so twisty!
That’s how I would describe The Au Pair should I be asked for a quick review of the book. With mentions of sprites, changelings and witches – not to mention being set in a large Norfolk estate – this story definitely exudes a certain gothic vibe. But behind pretty descriptions of coastal England is a legitimate domestic mystery both tautly and ingeniously plotted as it is entertaining.
I cannot tell you enough just how much I enjoyed this book. I gobbled it up, flying through pages and almost finishing it in one sitting. There’s a lot to love in this book. Quaint, charming setting? Check. Family drama? Chock-full. Plot twists? Bucket-loads! And good luck trying to untangle them! The Au Pair delivers all these and more.
These elements, while definitely factoring into the equation, aren’t what makes The Au Pair a veritable page-turner. It was, for me, the way Emma Rous told the story which really elevates this book.
Rous maximizes both of her narrators – Seraphine and Laura – and uses them to their fullest potential. Both protagonists move and dictates the pace of this book. The dual timeline, with Seraphine’s present day quest to uncover her family’s long-buried secrets and Laura’s time as Edwin’s au pair the summer Seraphine and her twin Danny were born 25 years ago, reveals just enough with perfectly placed hints that’ll surely tease readers to puzzle together the whole story.
The Au Pair, with the exception of that last plot twist that made me stop for a good hour because it came out of nowhere with little foreshadowing, is definitely an engrossing, compelling read. I’m happy to have this be the first book I finished this year. Fans of domestic thrillers and mystery will certainly find something to enjoy in this one. I recommend it!
🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂
About the Author:
EMMA ROUS grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, and worked as a veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before starting to write fiction. Emma lives in Cambridgeshire, England, with her husband and three sons.
The Au Pair is her first novel.