Title: The Au Pair by Emma Rous
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
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 smiling serenely and holding just one baby.
Who is the child, and what really happened that day?
The Au Pair by Emma Rous is an atmospheric mystery set on the Norfolk coast.
Seraphine Mayes is still in shock over her father Dominic’s death when she finds a puzzling photo whilst going through his papers. Their family is no stranger to tragedy since her mother, Ruth, committed suicide the day she gave birth to Seraphine and her twin brother Danny. Which is why it is so surprising her father kept this photo hidden since it was obviously take the day the twins were born. However, Ruth is only holding one baby in the picture which brings up several questions. Who is the baby in the photo? Why is Ruth only holding one baby? And who took the picture?
Seraphine has never felt like she fit in with her family so she cannot help but worry this picture holds the truth about her. Her older brother Edwin provides a vital clue when he mentions his former au pair Laura Silveira took the photo. Seraphine immediately begins searching for her although she is not certain she is ready for answers to her questions. Needless to say, Laura is not happy when Seraphine confronts her and she does not provide any useful information.
Undaunted, Seraphine continues to try to find answers that she hopes will quiet the doubts that haunt her. She reaches out to quite a few people as she tries to unearth the truth. After a few scary occurrences, Seraphine has clearly rattled someone who wants the secrets of the past to remain buried. She is not ready to give up her quest despite her fears and her brothers’ pleas. Will Seraphine unravel the mystery that continues to plague her?
Chapters detailing Seraphine’s efforts to find the truth alternate with chapters from Laura’s perspective in the past. These entries provide fascinating insight into the eleven months leading up to Ruth giving birth. Laura is a wonderful au pair and she spends a great deal of time with Dominic, Ruth and Edwin. She can definitely fill in the blanks for Seraphine, but why is Laura reluctant to discuss what happened that fateful day Ruth gave birth then took her own life?
The Au Pair is a suspenseful mystery with an eerie setting and a clever storyline. The cast of characters are superbly developed with realistic strengths and all too human weaknesses. Seraphine’s quest for the truth in the present is interesting and she does not allow anyone to dissuade her from finding answers. Laura’s chapters paint a picture of a somewhat troubled family who has shouldered more than their fair share of tragedy. Emma Rous brings the novel to a twist-filled conclusion as the convoluted truth about Laura’s final day as an au pair is revealed. A marvelous debut that I highly recommend fans of modern Gothic mysteries.