The Au Pair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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 🙂
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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.
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Seraphine and Danny, twins, are born on the coast of Norfolk, England. Not long after their births, their mother commits suicide, and their au pair flees.  

After that, the village goes wild with rumors about dark things that may have happened within the grand estate. 

Seraphine is now an adult grieving the loss of her father when she finds a mysterious family photograph. The photo is from the day she was born, and in it, her mother appears happy, but she’s only holding one baby. What happened that day and where is the other baby?

The Au Pair is a solid page-turner with a gripping premise and a haunting mystery at its heart. The narrators’ voices are fascinating, and I was absolutely riveted by this story. Consumed, really! An intricate web of lies is exposed, the atmosphere is perfectly drawn, and finally, that ending: it blew my mind! Overall, The Au Pair is a remarkable literary thriller, and Emma Rous is an author I’ll be keeping on my radar. 

Thanks to Berkley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.
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Seraphine Mayes recently lost her father and as she is going through his belongings she discovers a photograph she has never seen before. Her mother, who committed suicide on the day she was born, is holding either her or her twin brother, which strikes her as odd. She is inordinately curious about this, in my opinion, and questions her older brother about it.

In a quest for answers she reaches out to Laura, her older brother's Au Pair, at the time of her birth. The chapters then alternate between Laura's story from the '90's, told from her POV, and Seraphine's told in the present.

As the stories come together, the book speeds up and the second half is quite engaging; however, I didn't love the ending. Emma Rous, however, is a brilliant writer, and I loved her word smithing.

Thank you to Emma Rous, Berkley Publishing House and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The Au Pair, by author Emma Rous, is an almost Gothic web with her dual narrative of a young woman, Seraphine Mayes, in search of the truth, and a second young narrator, Laura Silveira, who is drawn into the world of the enigmatic Mayes family. The story itself alternates between Seraphine in 2017 and Laura Silveira, the Au Pair for the Mayes family during the years of 1991 through 1992. 

Seraphine is still in shock over her father Dominic’s death when she finds a puzzling photo while 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. The picture is of Seraphine's mother Ruth holding a newborn baby. Seraphine realizes the photo was taken on the day Seraphine and her twin brother Danny were born, she wonders why only one baby is in the family photo? 

Where is the second baby? Even more curious, why does her mother look so peaceful and happy moments before throwing herself off the seaside cliffs?  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. 

After Laura refuses to speak to her, Seraphine persists. 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? Who holds the secrets to her mother's final day and why are they threatening her for trying to uncover them?

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.

Such a discombobulated family. Thanks be to God that it's not mine. The ending really is strange and absolutely out there. Yes, it kind of makes sense, but it's like watching an episode of Maury when he does the tests to determine who the parents of the child really are only to find out that everything is totally freaking not what you expected.
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This book will be if it has not been optioned for a film. I could see it as I read it. The mystery is great and the characters relatable. I look forward to seeing Emma emerge as a new author to watch out for.
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The AuPair was an intriguing tale of choices made and how those choices will always follow you and your loved ones. It definitely grabs you from the beginning (which I always love), but for me it turned out a little predictable. I guessed where the story was going (which is kinda bummer) but didn’t stop me at all from finishing!
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Another twisty mystery.  Seraphine is devastated to have lost her father and goes looking for answers after she finds information that raises questions about her family and past.  Decades earlier and before Seraphine was born, Laura is the au pair for Seraphine's brother.  Drama ensues.

It's clear from the beginning that one of the two narrators was unreliable and it seems like the author tried really hard to throw us off as to which one was unreliable.  Seraphine's motivations seem flimsy.  She just knows that something isn't right and takes it upon herself to stalk the people she thinks may have answers. I didn't feel like any of the characters were very well developed.  

Parts of this book were very compelling, especially towards the middle of the story.  Towards the end, though, it lost me.  There was so much explaining and the explanations were both complicated and coincidental to the point that it was hard to keep track of what, exactly, had happened.  

2.5 stars, rounding up to three.
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A family mourns the sudden death of their father. Seraphine Mayes, her twin brother Danny, and their older brother Edwin are reeling after the funeral, but the boys are ready to get back to their lives. Seraphine, not so much. She adores Summerbourne, the family estate by the sea in Norfolk. Poking through her father’s effects, she finds a photo of her mother holding a baby.

I flip the photo over, and my father’s distinctive scrawl confirms it was taken on the day we were born, just over twenty-five years ago. I already knew it could be no later, because on the same day Danny and I were born, our mother jumped from the cliffs behind our house and killed herself.

Seraphine is dumbfounded. Which baby is her mother holding? Why isn’t she holding both twins? Seraphine is a dog on the scent, interrogating everyone about the picture and what happened years ago. She tracks down Edwin’s au pair, Laura Silveira, who worked for her parents, Ruth and Dominic Mayes for eleven months. Eighteen-year-old Laura joined the Mayes household in August 1991, but after Ruth committed suicide, she disappeared. Seraphine wants answers from the person who was there at a critical time.

But if Laura was there—if Laura saw what happened between this photo being taken and our mother jumping—perhaps I don’t have to spend the rest of my life not knowing after all.

Seraphine tracks down Laura through her old address, and although she sees her leaving her workplace, they don’t have a conversation. Not yet.

Twenty-one days since my father’s accident; nine days since his funeral. I can’t make any decisions sitting in my roasting car on this tired, dusty street. I wipe my palms on my dress and tap Summerbourne into the GPS. I’ll be able to think about it all more clearly when I get home.

Emma Rous switches the narrative to August 1991 when Laura is on her way to meet the Mayes. The chapters alternate between the two women’s voices, adding to the mystery and suspense. Is the truth hidden in the past or are there contemporaries who know the answers? The synchronicity is fascinating: Dominic Mayes dies in August 2017, the same time of year that Laura is interviewed by Ruth Mayes and Ruth’s formidable mother, Vera Blackwood. Lastly, there is a significant literary clue to Laura’s introduction to the Mayes household.

Greengages. I always associated my first visit to Summerbourne with those shy green plums, whose ordinary-looking skins hide such astonishing sweetness. In my eighteen years as a city girl, I had never even seen a greengage, but they grew abundantly in the woodland at the back of the Summerbourne garden, and I devoured several that day. They tasted of honey and sunshine and new beginnings.

Is Rous implying that Laura is a shy green plum? Are the tempting greengages analogous to the apple in the Garden of Eden? How will Laura’s “new beginnings” end? Rumer Godden’s famous novel, The Greengage Summer, immediately comes to mind. The Greengage Summer is set in France but its plot parallels The Au Pair. Godden’s English heroine, “16 year old Joss, the oldest Grey girl, suddenly, achingly beautiful,” attracts the attention of a “charming Englishman” staying at her hotel. Like The Au Pair, the story unfolds slowly, almost imperceptibly, but all involved are forever changed: “They would merge together in a gold-green summer of discovery, until the fruit rotted on the trees and cold seeped into their bones.” Seraphine’s quest is to discover what happened so many years ago in those halcyon days. The tension is unrelenting. The Au Pair is a detective story for adults, it pokes and prods at the sinews of family secrets.

There’s no higher book recommendation than to suggest a reader set aside time to race to the finish—in the case of The Au Pair, they won’t be able to stop themselves.
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This book is a thrilling family mystery. The story is told in two povs. Seraphines in present day as she searching for the truth about her family and Laura's,  the au pair , in the past. There's an eerie gothic atmosphere to the story line. But it's totally intriguing and keeps the reader guessing. The mystery is well hidden and there are many twist and turns and surprising end results. Everything ties up nicely in the epilogue and you are left completely satisfied. Thank you Netgalley for the ARC
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The Au Pair
by : Emma Rous
genre: mystery
pages: 379

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?

My thoughts
rating: 5 stars
Would I read anything else by this author : yes
would I recommended it:yes
A family curse , a dark family history, dark secrets , and a thirst to know more about your family as well as a mystery then this one is for you . In the story you fellow the perspectives of Seraphine and someone who knew the family. As your reading it you begin to see just how dark the family secrets could be , and you also start to question whither Seraphine is how she says she is or is she someone else, you also find out more about the family and the family curse and what it has to do with twins, and how far someone will go to keep those secrets from ever coming out . Its a story that once you start to read it you don't want to stop , because you can't ,you have to keep reading until the very end. With that said thanks Netgallet for letting me read and review it in change for my honest opinion.
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The Au Pair is a modern day gothic mystery novel. While it poses an intriguing question of mistaken identity in infants, it leaves more questions than it answers. The narrative goes back and forth between two timelines, but rather than adding suspense, I found it distracting. I had trouble finding a likeable character, and had little satisfaction from the drawn out conclusion. However, the curious plot did keep me reading until the last page.
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Truly excellent and we'll written book. Emma Rous has written a winner. Absolutely pick up this amazing book and be prepared to loose yourself in this story.
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I’m in the middle of reading 3 books right now, this being one of them, and I ended up just setting the others aside and crushing this one last night. An easy read and enjoyable thriller about a woman trying to untangle the mysteries surrounding her family tree and the au pair who used to work for her family and may know more than she is letting on. The story shifts between two timelines: present day, from the point of view of the woman as she hunts for answers; and 2 decades earlier, from the point of view of the au pair and her time employed working for the family. I thought the mystery and narrative moved at a fast clip, loved the isolated British countryside setting, and was totally caught up in the family drama. I thought a few of the characters were underdeveloped and had hoped a few loose ends had been tied up, but other than that, I think this is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a fast, fun thriller.
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I was an au pair to a family in New York City during the early 80's. I was attending college and it provided a job, housing and a family like atmosphere in which to live and study. I'm still in touch with them these many years after and I'm thankful for the opportunities they provided. I was intrigued to read Emma Rous' THE AU PAIR (Berkley). My experience was light years away from what I read, and therein lies the intrigue. 

In THE AU PAIR ( Berkley), Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny are born in the middle of summer at their family's estate. Within hours of their birth, their mother throws herself from the cliffs, the au pair flees, and the village is thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who wove 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 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, but holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

Emma Rous weaves an interesting mystery, which demands close attention. It's a combination of domestic noir and contemporary fiction. After a slow start, where the story line is easy to keep up, the last third, throws facts and reveals at the readers at a frenetic pace. One might want to keep a flow chart close by. This was my experience, maybe it'll be different for you.
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