Cover Image: The Au Pair

The Au Pair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Seraphine Mayes has long wondered why she looks different from her twin brother Danny and their older brother Edwin, and looks for answers in Emma Rous' twisty The Au Pair (Penguin Berkley, digital galley). An old photo of her mother, who fell to her death from the Norfolk cliffs shortly after Seraphine and Danny were born, shows her mother holding a single newborn. The picture was taken by Edwin's young au pair at the time, Lauren Silviera. As Seraphine searches for Lauren in the present, the narrative alternates with Lauren's story in the past. Threatening notes, secret lovers, family quarrels and village gossip of changelings contribute to the murky puzzle. You'll have to decide if the solution -- given the outlandish premise -- makes sense.
from On a Clear Day I Can Read Forever

3.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
THE AU PAIR is a captivating and enthralling mystery which is told from alternating viewpoints, that of Laura Silveira and Seraphine Mayes, and unfolds over two decades.

Laura is just eighteen years old when she comes to Summerbourne to work for the Mayes family as au pair to their young son, Edwin.  Laura is fond of her charge, and her employers are kind and generous, making for an ideal situation.  When Mrs. Mayes (Ruth) becomes pregnant, her husband (Dominic) is overjoyed.  So why, on the very day that Ruth gives birth, would Laura flee this ideal position?

Seraphine (Seph) and her twin brother, Danny, were the babies born to Ruth on the day Laura fled Summerbourne over twenty years ago.  The Mayes family has been dealt tragedy after tragedy.  Ruth committed suicide the very day the twins were born, and now Dominic has died.  Seph has never resembled her brothers, and has felt somewhat of an outsider.  After Dominic’s death, she finds a picture of her mother, taken on the day of her birth, but holding only one baby, and looking very happy, not like a woman about to end her own life.

Why is there only one baby in the picture?  Why would a woman looking so happy take her own life hours later?  Seph decides she needs to track down the au pair, Laura, to find out what light she can shed on these mysteries.  Laura doesn’t want to be found, however, leaving Seph more confused than ever.

Rumors have swirled about the Mayes family, and innuendos hint at something not quite as it should be regarding the twins’ birth.  The story as told from Laura’s point of view in the past, and Seph’s search for answers in the present makes for a page turner that was hard to put down.  Murder, lies, infidelity, and deception all play a role in the mystery, which will truly shake up the world of so many, as long held secrets are revealed.  I found THE AU PAIR to be a fascinating and compelling read, which I believe will please readers who love a good, twisty suspense novel.
Was this review helpful?
This is described as a domestic family psychological thriller; in my opinion, this description let it down, because there is very little thrilling about it. Instead, it’s a slow-burn, simmering mystery that ties together two separate yet deeply interconnected timelines and stories. The first story is an au pair’s, and the second is later in time, and is the story of a girl trying to put the pieces of her past together. I thought this book built tension quite well; however, the characters felt flat and uninteresting. The ultimate reveal was predictable and anti-climactic. I would recommend it for people who enjoyed We Were Liars, and are looking for an adult mystery to dive into.
Was this review helpful?
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother, Danny, were born in the middle of summer on their family’s coastal estate, Summerbourne. Throughout the years rumors have swirled about the family and the twins. Whispers around town were that the family was never able to successfully have twins in their family because over the years one twin had always died tragically. Seraphine and Danny grew up with amidst the gossip and their own family tragedy. Their mother had thrown herself from the cliffs behind their house on the day they were born.

Now into their adult life and mourning the recent loss of their father, Seraphine can’t shake the stories she has heard all her life. Does she not belong to this family? With the discovery of a photo from the day of her birth showing her mother only holding one infant, Seraphine’s doubts continue to overtake her mind. There is no one in her immediate family to ask, so she embarks on an investigation into the past and in particular into an au pair, Laura, who just might hold the key to her life. Laura was there the day of the twin’s birth and their mother’s death, but is she willing to tell Seraphine what really happened?

THE AU PAIR is Emma Rous’ debut novel, but it certainly doesn’t read that way! Written between alternating narratives of Seraphine’s present day investigation and Laura’s experience in the past, Rous builds an unbelievably entertaining story of deception and family secrets. The two narratives work seamlessly in parallel with each other, as Laura’s story progresses closer to the day of the twin’s birth, Seraphine’s quest to the truth will reach its crescendo.

The entire story is delightfully addictive and the switch between narratives pushes the reader to continue reading as they can feel the answers to their questions lying just beyond in the next few pages. When Rous finally chooses to reach the grand reveal, it is nothing short of literary goodness! While I was able to guess parts of the situation, thanks to a few well placed hints along the way, I was still on the edge of my seat for the final few chapters. You can feel the impact the truth is having on not only Seraphine, but her family and everyone who was involved in their birth. The emotion is raw and real in a way that makes the characters easy to sympathize with even if you do want to shake a few of them while asking “what were you thinking?”.

There is nothing complicated to overly wordy about the story to draw your attention away from the investigation at hand. Rous’ writing is light, bingeable, and just the sort of style a reader wants when selecting a thriller. Taking this story to another level is the setting of Summerbourne and the Gothic mood this estate gives this story. Several times I found myself feeling as if the section from the past were based in a much more distant timeline than they actually were just because of the secluded feelings brought about by this family home.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, atmospheric, and exciting story, I urge you to pick up a copy of THE AU PAIR today!
Was this review helpful?
I simply loved this book.  It was a mild thriller. But the back and forth chapters between Laura and Seraphine keep the pages turning.  My only complaint is the cover does adequately depict the feel of the book. Excellent character development.  I am still thinking about the back hours after finishing the book.
Was this review helpful?
Ive been thinking a lot about this review and have been pretty conflicted.  While I enjoyed this novel, parts of it were disappointing for me.  I believe that Rous is one of the most talented writers Ive read in awhile and has a lot of great ideas for a story, but the execution of some of the ideas left me feeling a little lackluster.

Here is what I enjoyed about the novel:  the quality of writing.  Rous spins a great story and the words flow very well.  I will definitely read other novels by her when they are written.  I liked the setting of the novel - I could picture the cliffs and the beaches.  And the house, I wanted to live there.   The story concept - a character who finds out somethings that makes her doubt her life?  what a great idea!

What I was "disappointed in" would have liked there to be more development with - I felt that there was a lot of build up but the actual action of the novel was rushed.  I would have liked more of a backstory on all the characters.  I would have liked to have known what this curse was and how it weighed on the characters.  Again just felt very rushed.  great build up of suspense, but more action would have been enjoyable.

I do feel fans of GIRL ON THE TRAIN and Paula Hawkins in general would enjoy this novel and type of writing by this author.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Berkley Pub for gifting me an ARC and inviting me onto the Blog Tour for this book, in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I rate this book a 4 out of 5 Stars.

So, compare any book to those written by V.C. Andrews, and I am sold. I am so down for twisted, wicked, totally bat shit crazy story lines. Did this one live up to that hype?? For me, it did. This one is getting a lot of mixed reviews, but doesn’t that is the fun part of being a reader, reading something, and forming your own opinion. Did I see things coming? Did I predict somethings? Of course, but there was enough substance to this book, that I still had plenty more to read, and enjoy.

I did love the plot twists, the character dynamics, and just the over all vibe of this book. I am so grateful that I was given the oppurtunity to review this one. I like books, that make you think outside of the box, and appreciate a creative ending, when you read this, and you get to the end, keep an open mind, and just go with it. Don’t try to disprove anything, and your experience reading “The Au Pair” will be an enjoyable one.

I love family dramas, and I love dark gothic plots, and to mesh the two of them was a delicious twist! I felt like I was a 12 year old girl, staying up all night reading a morally twisted novel, all over again (Throwback to my first V.C. Andrews book). Also, LOVED the narration in this book!
Was this review helpful?
Love, deceit, betrayal, mystery, and suspense fill the pages of this gothic mystery/suspense book. All Seraphine wants is to know who she is. To find answers, she goes against the advice of her brother and seeks out their former au pair.

Two different times are blended in this story. In 2017, it is told through Seraphine’s eyes. In 1991, it is told through the eyes of Laura, the au pair.

What a tangled web of lies has been spun. In 2017 while going through her father’s belongings, Seraphine finds a picture that raises questions in her mind. It was taken on the day she and her brother were born, but in the picture, her mom is only holding one of them. And it was taken just hours before her mom threw herself over the cliff. Her mom looked so happy in the picture. What had happened to cause her to jump off the cliff?

I can understand her curiosity. Who wouldn’t want to know what happened? Who wouldn’t want to know which of the twins was in the picture? And where was the other one? I can understand why Seraphine would seek out the au pair. She should know just what happened that fateful day. What I couldn’t understand was why her brother would discourage her from doing so.

Seraphine also wonders if she is really a twin, really a member of this family. Rumors about her family and talk about changelings she had heard while growing up didn’t help any. What will she learn from the au pair?

When the truth is discovered, it is devastating yet comforting.

Anyone who enjoys mystery/suspense books will love this book. The closer I got to the end of the book, the harder it was to put down. Did I ever figure out what was going on? No. I had my suspicions, but not all of them were right.
Was this review helpful?
In the same vein of Girl on a Train, as The Au Pair is  contemporary fiction with domestic noir twist. The mystery of The Au Pair unfolds chapter by chapter, keeping you guessing till the very end. Rous crafted a wonderful page turner centered around identity crisis, familial ties and love.
Was this review helpful?
This is a chilling suspenseful novel that had me guessing until the last chapter. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I would find out a few pages later how wrong I was. This was a debut novel for this author and I think we'll see additional great books from her in the future.

After Seraphine's father dies, she goes through his desk trying to find out the mystery in her family. Her two brothers - Edwin and her twin Danny don't understand why she is so obsessed with her past.
She finds a picture of her mom the day she died holding one baby - but where was the other twin when this picture was taken? And why did her mom committ suicide on the same day the twins were born? Seraphine decides to track down Laura, the au pair who was living with the family at the time of the birth. Once she finds Laura, the pieces to the puzzle of the picture become clearer but when someone tries to kill Laura, the family wonders if they are all in danger.

This story is told in alternating chapters by Laura, the au pair who took care of Edwin and left on the day the twins were born and by Seraphine who is trying to solve the mystery. It was a great way to find out the past and present and to see how the stories came together at the end. This was a real page turner that kept me questioning everything until the surprising ending.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
While this book started out a little slow, I soon found myself racing through the chapters to learn what the Summerbourne twin secrets were. After the slow start, I thought the pacing was great. Not a read in one sitting, heart racing kind of thriller, but the kind of descriptive mystery that keeps you up all night reading because you just have to know how the story ends. 

The book is split between present-day Seraphine, who is questioning where she came from and who she is, and 1991 Laura, the au pair employed by Seraphine's family when she and her twin brother Danny were born. I liked reading both timelines, but Laura's was definitely the most intriguing. All the characters were flawed but sympathetic. The ending is a bit unrealistic (ok, super unrealistic), but it's fiction so I tend to just suspend my disbelief and go along with the ride!

I would recommend this book for fans of Ruth Ware, who are looking for an atmospheric mystery novel.

Thanks again to Netgalley, Berkley Publishing Group, and Emma Rous for this ARC!
Was this review helpful?
The Au Pair is both ominous and mysterious, to say the least. It took a bit before I really started to get into the story. But when I did, it was amazing. We follow two separate time periods and two different women—Seraphine and Laura, the au pair for Seraphine’s older brother. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how well written the story was. At times, I could see that it dragged a bit but then something would happen to bring me right back into the story. It was glorious. The characters were intriguing and had me on the edge of my seat. 

The dual POVs gave the story an extra sense of suspense to it. I was ready to get down the mystery asap. Which was probably why I finished the book so fast. Readers who enjoy books that keep you guessing until the very end, no doubt love this one. I’m excited to see what Tous brings us next!
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this one! Any time a book makes me want to go to bed to read, I know it’s quality for me. Though some of the mystery was a bit predictable, there were parts that were not. The book is well-written, told in two different viewpoints, past and present, with likable characters. I also feel like the characters were developed well throughout the story, especially Laura. Though she made mistakes, I really liked her character. I would have liked a bit more info about Ruth’s mental illness just for my own curiosity.
Was this review helpful?
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. A mix between family drama & mystery, this book is sure to keep your on your feet through the twists! This book was definitely a slow-build, but I really enjoyed how the story unfolded and the different POV between Seraphine and Laura, twenty years earlier. I didn't love this one as much as I thought I would. Some of the details felt overdone and complicated the plot line, but overall I did enjoy it.
Was this review helpful?
This book was not what I thought it was going to be. Yes, it was a twisty thriller, but there were times that it seemed to wander, and the action just wasn’t as tight as it could have been. I also expected the focus to be a little different. The author did a good job of keeping the reader guessing, and there were some legitimate “whoa, didn’t see THAT coming” moments. The setting of the old mansion by the cliffs near a village was properly eerie. I don’t like to give away plot points, especially in a thriller where any detail could be considered a spoiler, but I did feel a touch of V.C. Andrews in several parts. The characters seemed real enough, and there were times that I could feel the desperation of the main character, Seraphine. I give it 3.5 stars, because there were some loose ends that were skimmed over, and it was predictable in that I figured out part of the mystery long before the reveal. But I still enjoyed the novel as a whole. Thank you to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing Group, and the author for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I can definitely see why this was compared to V.C Andrews. It had that same sinister feel and the atmosphere of the Summerborne home had a creepy vibe to it. I really liked the characters of this one and even though it was more character driven than plot driven, I thought it was really well done. I was on the edge of my seat with Seraphine’s identity crisis and what happened the summer she was born and the day her mom committed suicide. It was also interesting to get Laura’s (the au pair) perspective in the flashbacks to that summer. The ending had some crazy twists that I was NOT expecting and while they were a bit on the unrealistic side, I loved them. Great read!
Was this review helpful?
The Au Pair is an outstanding topsy turvy mystery with so many twists and turns.  I highly recommend it! Emma Rous will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Summerbourne, England is a gorgeous home that is perfect for the wealthy Mayes family.  If only the walls could talk.  Though Laura Silveria has never been a nanny before; she is thrilled to be hired to work and live at Summerbourne.  But she quickly realizes that there are certain family dynamics that would be best avoided.  For a while, she becomes an integral part of the family until that tragic day. 

Years later, the now adult kids are coping with the sudden death of their father.  Seraphine continues to live in Summerbourne when she discovers a never-before-seen photo of either herself or her twin brother that was taken the day that her mother died.  She is intrigued and starts asking questions that someone wants to make sure remain unanswered.  

I received an advance copy of the book.  All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Seraphine returns to her family's home after her father's funeral.  She is joined by her twin brother Danny and her older brother Edwin. While cleaning up her father's possessions, she discovers an old photograph that raises some troubling questions. The photo is dated from the twins’ birth but their mother is only holding one baby. Which child is her mother holding and why aren't both babies in the photo?

The photo also shows her mother very happy and proud yet that is the same day she committed suicide.  Seraphine decides to pursue the irregularities surrounding the photo and her mother’s death.  She starts her search by contacting her former nanny who snapped the photograph.  

This is a debut novel by Emma Rous. The story is told from two points of view referencing the past and present. The Au Pair was a suspenseful and well-paced story with engaging family dynamics.
Was this review helpful?
I would like to start off by saying a huge thank you to Berkley Publishers, the Author Emma Rous and Netgalley for the advanced copy of The Au Pair in return for my honest review 🙂 I was so excited about this debut novel by Emma Rous and couldn’t wait to read it to see what the huge hype was about and let me tell you it definitely didn’t disappoint!

The whole novel follows Seraphine on her journey into figuring out who she really is after finding a mysterious photograph from the day she was born with her mother only holding one baby. Was this her? Or was this her twin brother; Danny? And why were they only holding the one baby? Wouldn’t they be celebrating the birth of both their babies in the picture! There were so many questions to be answered right from the beginning page.

The chapters flipped between the ‘Now’ with Seraphine and the ‘Then’ with Laura, the family’s new Au pair. I loved how both stories were told in different time frames and how they then intertwined as the story went on to answer all the mysteries and questions I had as a reader. Although the story had a slower start to what I usually like I found it didn’t matter on this occasion because the characters were so likeable and relatable that it left me wanting to know more about their story straight from the beginning.

I think one of the main reasons why I loved this book so much was because I am an Au pair myself so I could definitely relate to Laura’s story! This was the first book I have read that involved an Au pair so I was particularly intrigued as it’s always nice to read about something we are familiar with 🙂 With a unique storyline and many little twists, Emma does an amazing job at keeping the reader engaged and wanting to know more. I always love when a chapter ends on a cliff hanger and Emma did a great job at doing this! From the very first page, I was dying to know who the child was in the photograph and who Seraphine and her twin brother were!!

Lots of family drama unravels throughout the book as well as many many secrets! It reminded me of the saying ‘THE TRUTH ALWAYS COMES OUT IN THE END.’ I 100% recommend this for the perfect summer 2019 read (or any time of year read) for all those that love a dark mystery!

If you would like to learn more about the Author Emma Rous and her journey into writing The Au Pair I would recommend listening to a great podcast called GIANTPANDAPODCAST where the host interviews Emma Rous on the debut novel in episode 25 🙂
Was this review helpful?
My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A bingeable read filled with lies, deception, uncertain identities, and more twists than a telenovela. 

Let’s start with this simple fact. THE AU PAIR is a positively addictive read which will pull you in with the drama of this family. Though Seraphine is the catalyst to the events in this book,  it is Laura whom I loved the most. Seeing her in the past as well as the present truly made the story for me. 

Normally, I am on the fence about going back and forth with time. Some authors get it and others don’t. Rous gets it. She uses flashbacks to play off of and inform what is happening in the current lives of all those involved in a way that adds to the tension of the plot. As the story grows and unravels, the reader will constantly be kept on their toes with each jaw-dropping revelation. 

The brilliant storytelling and the effortless writing style was just the cherry on top for me with this book. Sitting down with THE AU PAIR was time well spent.
Was this review helpful?