The Au Pair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

“”” The worst thing is: I have lost certainty of my family without gaining the truth I was seeking””

Family secrets, dying to be uncovered. Small town whispers of cloaks, rumors of family curses and sprites, all entangling Seraphine and her brothers after their father’s death. Seraphine’s a twin, but finds a picture of her mother holding only one baby. This sets the entire family into motion to find the truth wether they want it revealed or not. The intense family twisted drama is told mainly from the perspective of Seraphine and Laura, the Au Pair who fled the night Seraphine and her twin brother were born. The dysfunctional unfolding of answers kept me turning the pages until I knew their truth.
Was this review helpful?
Seraphine was not my favorite character in this book. Felt like a flimsy premise for looking in to her parentage. Enjoyed the Laura/Alex/Ruth/Dominic story much more.
Was this review helpful?
Although well-written and steadily paced, I kept feeling as if I'd read this story before, which is understandable with all of the psychological thrillers being published these days. It reminded me of BLACK RABBIT HALL by Eve Chase, and even THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY by Ruth Ware, a bit. I will definitely recommend it to my customers who enjoy this type of story, but it did not break new ground for me as a reader.  Thanks for the opportunity to preview it.
Was this review helpful?
Not since I read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, have I enjoyed a mystery so much.   Readers of old fashioned mysteries/cozies may like this book.

The book is more of a what-happened than who-done-it.  Seraphine Mayes is a young woman in her twenties.   Upon her father's death, finds a photograph of her mother that makes Seraphine question some of the beliefs she has had about her mother and her own birth.

Before, Seraphine sees the photo she believes she was a twin and that her mother had committed suicide just after her birth.    However, the photograph Seraphine finds shows her mother looking very happy holding just one baby after her birth.   The picture was taken by the Au Pair the family had at the time whose name Laura.   The family lost touch with Laura after Seraphine's birth.

Seraphine believes that Laura knows the answer what happened to her mother and why there is only one baby in the picture when she was a twin.   The rest of the book is split between two time periods.  One is Seraphine's present day efforts to track down the truth and the other is Laura’s memories of the time she spent with the family many years ago.

Often, I find stories that jump from one time to another confusing and hard to follow.   However, in this novel it worked and built up the suspense.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Emma Rous’ novel about a young woman who accepts a position as an au pair for a wealthy family is hard to put down! Ms. Rous’ debut novel begins simply and the suspense builds gradually, keeping the reader guessing until the final pages. 

The novel begins in 2017 as Seraphine Mayes begins to sort through her father’s effects after his untimely death. Her twin brother and her older brother arrive to help. Seraphine finds an old photo of her family taken on the day she and her brother were born. But she notices that her mother is only holding one baby. Her older brother is there but where is the twin? Is her brother the baby in the photo, or is it Seraphine? She is unable to stop thinking about the photo. Her older brother thinks that the photo was taken by the family’s au pair, Laura. Seraphine is determined to find out why only one baby appears in the photo, and she sets out to find Laura.

The year is 1991 and Laura has taken a year off to prepare for university entrance exams. She accepts an offer from the Mayes family to be an au pair for their four year old son. In the beginning, Laura feels lucky to have a position that seems ideal. The family are gracious, welcoming, kind, and considerate. Her little charge is sweet, well behaved, and a joy to be around. But as time passes, Laura realizes that all is not as it seems. There are secrets that, if divulged, can destroy them and Laura as well.

Told in alternating chapters, Laura and Seraphine’s intertwined stories present a riveting, complex tale of family secrets, mystery, and the lengths people will go to protect their family. With a vivid sense of place and realistic characters, this is a novel you shouldn’t pass up!

Thank you to Net Galley, Berkley Publishers, and author Emma Rous for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this fast paced, engrossing novel!
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

After her father's accidental death, Seraphine Mayes seeks solace in old family albums. That's when she discovers a photograph she's never seen before—of her mother serenely holding one, not two, babies on the day she and her twin brother were born. Hours after the photo was taken, her mother would throw herself from the cliffs behind their idyllic countryside estate, and the events surrounding the birth of the Mayes twins would become the stuff of local legend ... tales of sprites and switched babies, changelings and a curse upon all twins born at Summerbourne. But who is Seraphine, really?

I was first intrigued by the cover of this book, and let me tell you—and like the girl on the cover, it will keep you looking back over your shoulder the whole time, hoping you don't find a knife waiting for you. 

Each chapter shifts between two perspectives—Seraphine in the present day, and Laura (the au pair) in the past. I love how this story slowly unfolds as the circumstances become more dire in each narrator's story. I also appreciated how the author kept me guessing the whole time—just who are these children and where did they come from? Rous' sense of place and atmosphere is wonderful. It made me want to sip tea in Summerbourne and run down to a rocky beach. But while sometimes the story felt cheery and homey, at other times it was eerie and mysterious (this always seemed to happen when I was reading it at night!). 

I also liked Seraphine's internal dialogue of self-doubt. Is she just being crazy and paranoid? Is she just grasping at straws to stay connected to her dead father? Or has she been ignoring her own intuition her entire life?

The story has a mostly satisfying ending (even some romance!), although we never know the extent of the accused character's true evil or the extent of Ruth's mental illness.

My only critique was that the first chapter felt a bit bumpy to me. I just didn't initially buy into Seraphine's sudden suspicions based on one photograph. But as the story unfolds, we see how little dominoes falling over the course of her life have lead her to this place of suspicion. 

If you love mystery and suspense, slow-revelations-style character development, and contrasting spooky/cozy atmosphere, this is a great book for you.
Was this review helpful?
Why would a woman jump to her death after giving birth to the twins she longed for? That is the question Seraphine Mayes seeks to answer. She believes that the au pair working for the family the summer she and her brother were born has the answer. Seraphine’s search for the au pair, Laura,  sets in motion the story full of twists and turns as the narrative switches between  Seraphine and Laura. This is a fast paced page turner that I didn’t want to end.
Was this review helpful?
One baby, or two...twins or not.... Intriguing "who am I" mystery whose ending I did not see coming. I am not at all sleuth-like as I read but in retrospect I find the bread crumbs.
Was this review helpful?
What a great story! I wish I had had an entire day just to read it straight through!  Seraphin questions family relationships when her father passes away suddenly.  Is there a curse upon her home?  Or is something else at work here?
Was this review helpful?
I could not put this book down until I finished it. The plot was so interesting and the characters well-drawn. I can't imagine how it would feel to not know who you really are and where you came from.  Twisty ending that I didn't see coming.
Was this review helpful?
This story is told alternately from the viewpoint of two different women who have never met. The two story lines are more than 20 years apart and the reader is kept turning the pages, wondering if the two women will ever meet, how the two stories converge, and what really happened on the day Seraphine and her brother, Danny, were born.

The setting is a beautiful old estate on the Norfolk coast, a lovely house owned by Seraphine's loving grandmother, who will never say which of her grandchildren will inherit the estate. Seraphine loves the place intensely, and panics when she begins to suspect that she doesn't really belong. Seraphine searches for the truth the Au Pair, Laura, has spent her life trying to forget.

There may be a few too many coincidences to pull it all together in the end, but it never bothered me enough to stop reading. A fascinating family drama with a twist that catches you off guard and a final chapter that wraps up loose ends and leaves the reader satisfied.
Was this review helpful?
The mystery builds as the characters develop.  How life can be so complicated is basic to this story with so many twists and turns that it's amazing the author could keep it straight.  But She does, and slowly and methodically pulls one thread after another until the reader can't wait to see the finished product!
Was this review helpful?
This book had the feel of a Victoria Holt novel. This is a good thing, I loved these books when I was growing up. It has some of the same motifs: mystery, governess who is exiled from her family, and a crush on the male protagonist. While having the flavor of Holt novel it has it's own style. I liked that two characters shared the narration and that they were from different time periods gave the story some added intrigue. A nice mystery with enough twists to keep you hooked.
Was this review helpful?
This is book is addictive .Laura takes a job for Edwin on a beautiful estate . Everything on the suraface is fine but this estate and the people in it are full of secrets and lies . Told from 2 point of. Views Laura the au pair and Sepraphine a daughter born on the estate that begins to have question . Twisty , gothic and sinister this book will be your new obsession after you read the first page
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars. What if you are not who you think you are? The mystery is told by two narrators, both young women. One tells the current story of trying to find out the truth about her family; the other tells the past story of hiding family secrets. Intriguing enough to want to find out what’s what but with an over-the-top, soap opera like quality . . . adultery, family secrets, superstitious folklore, and sad, pathetic women. Still, a page turner with a surprising reveal.
Was this review helpful?
It feels unfair to judge a character in a book based on the plot contrivances they have no reason to see coming. Real life has no genre conventions, so real people couldn’t possibly predict them. All the same, both the narrators of this novel are pretty difficult to take, with their cliches and naïveté. The climax comes too late and lasts too long, and the ending is both too tidy and unsatisfying. 

This is not a good book, but it is compulsively readable, which is easily confused for being good, so I won’t be surprised if it does well.
Was this review helpful?
The Au Pair is the story of twins and death told in a mix of present day and flashback chapters.  Writing in this style allows the author to control some of the revalations to pace the book differently than the traditional crime fiction/thriller.  Unfortunately, the book is predictable, especially once all the characters are introduced - the style of the book limits how quickly character introductions occur.
Not as good as many of the reviews I read lead me to believe.  I found the reveals predictable, the characters two dimensional, and the basically nonsensical.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

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.  

Seraphina and her twin brother Danny were only hours old when their mother committed suicide off the cliffs of the Norfolk coast.  Now an adult, Seraphina 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 Seraphina 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 Seraphina 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 before my wish was granted here on Netgalley.   All views expressed are my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I seriously did not see the twist at the end coming. I read this in one day, could not put it down. Great characters, told from two different perspectives 25 years apart. Easy to follow both stories and surprise ending. Highly recommended
Was this review helpful?
Exhilarating!  The suspense builds slowly with many unexpected twists and an unexpected ending.  I couldn't put it down!
Was this review helpful?