The Au Pair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Has anyone read this book by @emmarousauthor? I finished it this past weekend and feel like that reference is actually pretty true. The cover caught my eye last year and after reading the blurb, I had to read it, I had a feeling I might like it—I did, I loved it! .

The story is about a woman who delves into the mysteries of her family. Her mother jumped off a cliff the day she and her twin brother were born, the au pair fled, and talk in the town is that their Summerbourne estate is cursed. The deeper she digs, the more secrets, coverups and affairs she finds. .

Twisty, layered with scandal aplenty, this is a slow-burn gothic thriller worth the read.
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What an evocative and tangled story! I absolutely love British thrillers and especially a story set in and around an old house. ‘The Au Pair’ features both Summerbourne, the family’s remote country home, and Winterbourne, the city home. Both houses, but especially Summerbourne, play key roles in this wonderfully atmospheric story.

The story is told in the first person in dual timelines. Seraphine is the twin sister of Danny and younger sister of Edwin. Laura is the nanny who cared for Edwin when he was a young child. Seraphine discovers an old family photo when she is cleaning the house after her father’s sudden death. She finds a photo that was supposedly taken on the day she was born – yet there is only one baby in the photo! Is the baby her, or Danny? And what drove their young mother to kill herself on the day of the twins’ birth?

This is quite a premise and one that is wonderfully unraveled over the course of this intelligent and moody mystery. Seraphine is determined to track down Laura, the nanny, and find out what happened on the day of her birth. She immediately stirs up old emotions and her family begs her to stop digging.

“I stare at him. Is it true? How could I have hurt him and not known about it? The hairs on my arms rise, and the air around me seems to shift and relayer itself, as if Summerbourne itself is sifting through its memories.”

Seraphine begins to question everything and everyone she ever thought she knew and loved. What really happened that day? Each alternating chapter leads the reader closer and closer to the truth. It is hard to tell a great story in the first person but the author does so skillfully and with rising tension. As Seraphine grows closer to discovering the truth about her family, Laura is also telling the story of the young family and the circumstances leading up to the day of the twins’ birth.

I alternated between reading this book and listening to the audio and I adored the dual narration. I love when an entire mystery revolves around one seemingly small inconsistency and that is the heart of this book. Seraphine, who had been taunted as a child for being a ‘Summerbourne Sprite’, becomes increasingly paranoid as she gets closer to the truth about her family. I was completely taken aback but the ending but fell in love with all of the characters and the gorgeous English settings. ‘The Au Pair’ is a creative book, perfectly paced and beautifully narrated. If this is the author’s first novel, I cannot wait for the next. I highly recommend this one!

“The future hovered like a boat about to raise its sail, waiting for my next words, suspended between elements, tugged by guilt and love and desperation.”
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I usually have a hard time reading books on the ipad, but this one sucked me in from the beginning, and I couldn't stop. A legacy of cursed twins at a posh summer home in England is the set up for this twisty tale. Seraphine Mayes has never felt like she belongs to the family and finally gets to find out why. The ending is pretty convoluted but mostly believable.
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I received this as an advanced reader copy through Net Galley. This is my unbiased review. I generally like stories about the secrets families keep but for this one there was just so much going on that it seemed a bit convoluted. The writing is solid, it is a classic noir tale but the plot devices were just too much for me. It is not a bad read and it is only after I have finished that I can point to the weakness of the tale. It was still a challenge to figure out the end so for that reason I would recommend.
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On the whole, derivative of other thrillers on the market. Too many twists, too conveniently twisted, too little plot cohesion. As an example, one of the main characters repeatedly refers to her “work” and job, although we never learn what it is that she does (and she never appears to do it over the course of the entire book).
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I thought this would be more of a mystery but was really just a suspenseful story.  I like most of the characters except for Seraphina, I thought she was rather selfish wanting to pester people and not thinking a lot about her brothers opinions.  The ending was very confusing, not really a book I’d recommend to others.
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This is a compulsively readable, serpentine story about identity and deception. I rounded up to three stars because I was intrigued and wanted to see how it all came together at the end, but parts of the story are wholly unbelievable and the characters unlikeable. After the death of her father, Seraphine discovers a photograph in his desk which makes her question whether her twin, Danny, is really her brother, and just how she fits into her family. Told in alternating chapters by Seraphine and Laura, the au pair who was employed and present on the day of her birth, the details of the “mystery” unfold slowly. I was frustrated most of the time by how quickly these two women jumped into obsessive-like behavior - Seraphine suddenly questioning her place in the family after 27 years, and Laura’s fixation on Alex after just a brief meeting. There are too many details that don’t quite fit in this story, and too many relationships to sort through, and in the end, we are never sure about what really happened during key parts of the plot. Good, but not good enough to warrant more than two and half or three stars.
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I completely thought that I had this book completely figured out! I was so wrong. It was trying so hard to be a thriller but it turned into a cozy mystery instead. :)
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Told in alternating voices from two different timelines. The story started off strong but the ending was a bit of a confusing mess .
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To say this book was disappointing is an understatement. The writing itself was fairly uneven, often veering into purple prose. The characters were odd and flat; I never fully understood their intentions. Most of all, the plot is incredibly convoluted and set pieces are hilariously outlandish. A possibly spoiler-ish example: Vera, an incredibly posh octogenarian, wields a  b l o w t o r c h  at a concussed and bleeding Laura for several minutes, eventually setting her sweater on fire and no witness actually intervenes. Reader, I thought I was hallucinating.
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I requested this book thinking it would be more of a mystery/thriller, but felt it was of the growing domestic fiction genre which isn’t my favorite. I did however enjoy it more than most I’ve read. There were some plot holes and the two main characters became a bit tiresome towards the end at times. 

I’d give it a solid 3.5 stars. But for those who love this genre will find it quite enjoyable. 

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny never knew their mother. On the day they were born she threw herself off the cliffs of Summerbourne on the Norfolk Coast.  Now at 25 she has just lost her father to an accident and while sorting through her father's belongings and comes across a photo taken on the day the twins were born. The photo shows her mother smiling and holding one of the newborns. Why was there just one baby in the photo and why would her smiling mother have committed suicide on that very same day?

Does the "au pair" Laura, who lived with the family while caring for older brother Edwin, about 5 at the time, hold the answer to these questions? Seraphine is obsessed with tracking down Laura and quizzing any one else who may be able to fit the mysterious pieces of the puzzle together.

This was a pretty good mystery, well-paced with each chapter seeming to bring a new question or new clue. The story is told in the present from the POV of Seraphine and the past by Laura, the au pair. The ending wasn't an entire surprise but I didn't figure out everything either. Overall, I was happy I read this one.
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I absolutely loved this book.

My wheelhouse is typically YA fantasy or adult murder fiction, so this was a step outside my normal reading parameters, but wow I'm so glad I picked it up. I"ve actually worked as an au pair, and that was a major reason why I picked this book up. I came for the premise and stayed for the prose. This book is beautifully written and excellently plotted. The pacing is wonderful and I was never board reading it. It's well crafted and beautifully told. I had no idea how it was going to end, and that's always a huge selling point for me. 

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good mystery in a believable world. I can't wait to see what's next for this author.
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This had a very slow start for my taste but after a bit I settled in and appreciated the depth of character-building and complex mystery. I will definitely be looking out for more by Emma Rous.
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** spoiler alert ** I would have rated this book higher before reading the ending. I had liked how the book moved along. The characters were interesting and I liked the descriptions of the big, old estate they were living in. But, the ending was just too unbelievable for me. I will not be suggesting friends read this book.

Spoiler Alert!!

I had presumed the book would end similar to how it did with the nanny and the woman she was working for both being pregnant. What I had not expected was that the nanny didn't know she was pregnant, no one noticed she was pregnant and she delivers healthy twins. I have known people who didn't know they were pregnant and they deliver a healthy baby. I have also known people who carried healthy twins and it was very apparent they were pregnant. That plot twist was just so unbelievable to me.
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Seraphine, her twin brother and her other brother recently buried their father and Seraphine wants to find answers about their family’s secrets. Her mother committed suicide the day she was born but no one seems to want to talk about it with her, though there are rumors floating around. She sets out to uncover the truth, but will the truth set her free or put her in danger? As she searches for answers more questions pop up and it starts to become unclear if her mother really was her mother. The book is narrated by Seraphine and alternates between the past and the present. 

I did find it to be a bit slow in the beginning and the middle but was glad I continued to read all the twists and to find out the real story. It does get a bit confusing at the end and seemed a little unrealistic. But overall I enjoyed the read! 

Thank you to Penguin Publishing Group and Netgalley for an ARC copy of the book.
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Seraphine has always felt out of place in her family and wondered who she really is. She and her twin brother, Danny, were born in summer at their family's estate on the Norfolk coast. Tragically, just hours after their birth, their mother jumped to her death, leaving her husband to raise the twins and their older brother. The family had employed an pair fled, but she left that day and was never seen again. The residents of the small village gossiped and speculated about dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple in the estate whose happiness was shattered on that day. 

As the story opens, Seraphine is bereft about the accidental death of their father. Sorting through his belongings, and anticipating that she will continue residing in the family estate, she discovers a photograph she has never seen before. Although it was taken on the day that she and Danny were born, their mother is holding only one baby in the photo. And she certainly doesn't appear to be a woman contemplating taking her own life on that same day. No one is able to tell whether it is Seraphine or Danny her mother is holding.

In The Au Pair, that photograph sets Seraphine on a journey to discover the truth about her family's history and her place in it. The story is told from two perspectives: Seraphine's current-day investigation, and that of Laura, the mysterious au pair, as events unfolded back in 1991. Author Emma Rous has created a surprisingly compelling story, albeit one that is essentially a soap opera complete with unrequited love, extramarital affairs, secrets maintained for decades, and a predictable villain. The result is a juicy, titillating, enjoyable story that is a quick read perfect for the beach or a snowy weekend day. Rous's characters are surprisingly sympathetic, particularly the confused but earnest Seraphine, who just wants to know the truth about her identity and family members. Laura is equally empathetic, as her story of being a young woman on her own swept into the machinations of a powerful and wealthy family is revealed. And Rous provides a powerful ending to the story which is ultimately satisfying, uplifting, and imbued with a very contemporary message about what it means to be a 21st century family. The Au Pair is an impressive debut novel.
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Fast read "murder or suicide" mystery with engaging plot, but less than satisfying reveals in the end.
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Before I started to read The Au Pair, I had no preconceived notion on the book, as a professional nanny for more than 20 years, I tend to pick up all nanny/au pair/governess books, as they normally make me laugh at authors ideas of nannies, what they do, and how parents and children act around the nanny. So in my naïve belief that this book was the same as others, I started to read, and boy was I in for a huge surprise. 

We start the book on the Norfolk estate of the Mayes family, where eldest brother Edwin and twins Seraphina and Danny are gathered to sort things out 3 weeks after their father dies, who was their last surviving parent. But as they spend the weekend together, Seraphina starts to obsess over the death of their mother and the unanswered questions, like why was there only 1 photo of their mother the day that they were born? which is also the day that she died, and which twin was she holding? Were they really all siblings? Or were the people of the village right, and something bad happened on the day that they were born? And seeing as their grandmother refuses to answer the questions, there is only one person left alive that can tell them the truth! The mysterious Au Pair, that also disappeared the day they were born. 

Oh my goodness this book is simply exquisite! The web of lies, the twists and turns and in the end! Oh my! This book is brilliant! an amazing thriller, that will keep you on the edge of your seat and will leave your mind blown! The authors writing is superb! And for those you with a sharp mind who need a challenge, this book is perfect, it is not an easy mindless read, so if that is the type of book you want, this is not it. 

Right from the get-go, this book hit the nail on the head with how families tend to treat their employees, and it also showed how lonely the children tend to be and how they crave attention, especially from the parents that are too busy for them. But even then this book was so much more than the. The Au Pair was not some foreign exchange person, but a young girl with a painful past, sorely taken advantage of.  

And Seraphina's character is fantastic! From being made to feel crazy, to find out the truth, you cannot help but feel sorry for the girl, but by the end out can tell she is SO much stronger than at the beginning. And while Edwin and Danny's characters are also important to the storyline, I cannot say I was too invested in their character. 

Overall The Au Pair is an outstanding book and one that I totally recommend to everyone.
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This was a good one, every time I thought I had it figured out it took a turn in a different direction. The characters are likable and unlikable and you will judge some of their choices well honestly most of their choices! I don't want to spoil anything but this one really lived up to the hype. I will say that in the end I still think some DNA test were in order!

Narration by Elizabeth Sastre and Nicola Barber was well done and brought the 2 storylines to life.

I will be recommending this one and also think it would make a good book club book I think the discussion would be worthy.

I also bought this for our library.
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