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The Au Pair

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Member Reviews

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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This was a bit complex to follow, especially as the pieces were being unraveled, but I really liked how everything shook out in the end. The author's character development was excellent and I appreciated getting glimpses into the present and the past as everything unfolded. 
I kind of figured part of it out, but that didn't really matter in the end. The storyline is intriguing and unique and keeps the interest throughout.
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Cleverly written suspense/ family novel that keeps the reader turning pages. “Just one more chapter” is not enough. One must keep reading until all is revealed..
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First, this book is absolutely bonkers (which is the only real connection to VC Andrews). There's a lot of "elegant family with a ton of secrets" and what I'm pretty sure is a love rectangle. It's complicated; I wish I had a chart.

This is a fun read, and I read the bulk of it with snow falling outside. It worked surprisingly well, given the fact that a lot of it takes place at the family estate called Summerbourne. (There is also one called Winterbourne.)

It's best to go in knowing as little as possible, but it's easy to enjoy this book either way. This is going to be one of those books that gets people talking, so I recommend reading it as quickly as possible before someone spoils it for you.
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This was a mighty good suspenseful tale of family secrets and misfortunes never told, and what can happen when one starts asking questions.  The inquiring mind belongs to Seraphin (a name new to me and highly distracting, since I kept wondering how it's pronounced, why didn't they just call her Sara for short instead of Seph, etc., etc.).  Her chapters were less interesting, as her character seemed shallow and undeveloped.  After finding a snapshot of her family taken on the day of her birth, and the day of her mother's suicide,  she becomes obsessed with finding out if she actually belongs in this family or if something shady transpired that day.  There are rumors of there being only one baby born, rather than two, or maybe there were three.

The alternating chapters belonged to the au pair, spanning the eleven months just before Seraphin and her twin brother were born.  Here's  where we see how the secrets came into being.  The au pair knows everything, it appears, but someone is threatening her not to talk about it.

As all is finally revealed, you had better be paying attention or it could become downright confusing.  I had most of it figured out but there still remained some details, which kept coming and coming and coming.  Maybe the final chapter could have been eliminated altogether to give the reader more to imagine.   Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.
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This was the first book I have read by Emma Rous and after hearing so many wonderful things from others about this book I was excited to read it. This book had me hooked from the beginning. A family full of secrets, lies and keeping up with appearances. What more could you ask for in a thriller novel?

I enjoyed reading about the family dynamics and secrets of the Mayes’ family. So many secrets are revealed and truths are told that will shock you right through to the very shocking ending. An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing and has no shortage of surprises and shocking twists.

Which secrets did the Mayes’ family au pair learn? Why did she abandon the Mayes’ family all those years ago?

If you love thrillers this book is a definite must read to add to your list. You will not be disappointed!
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A picture inspires Seraphine to seek answers to her mother's death, just hours after the birth of her babies. But, the photo only shows her holding one baby. Who is the baby and what happened to the Au Pair who fled at the same time - a captivating book about family secrets.
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I love a book that keeps me guessing and turning the pages. And this one did just that. I had no idea where the chips were going to fall. 

Told in dual viewpoints and timelines, each story was compelling and held my interest. The characters—especially Laura, Seraphine, and Ruth—were flawed, but believable characters that had me rooting for their happy endings.

This book is a great family secret mystery with a touch of modern gothic. 

I received an ARC of this title. All opinions are my own.
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Does Laura, the au pair, have the answer to the question that no one would ever answer?

Does she know why Seraphine's mother threw herself off a cliff right after she gave birth? 

Seraphine hopes so because she must know the answer now that her father has also passed away, but no one wants to talk about it. 

Well...not until Seraphine tells her grandmother she would like to talk to Laura to see if she can shed some light on what happened. Her grandmother panics and pleads with Seraphine to NOT talk to Laura.  This arouses more curiosity for Seraphine.

Grandmother Vera also tells Seraphine that Summerborne House will go to her brother Danny and not her.  That news has Seraphine running out of the house.  

Why will it go to Danny and not her when she lives there? But Grandmother Vera didn't say why and won't say why.

Of course, Seraphine does not listen to her grandmother's request and apparent warning.  What she finds out causes more questions and more danger, but who are the ones that are in danger and what does what she finds out mean?

THE AU PAIR takes us from past to present as we learn about the Mayes family and the situations and activities that took place twenty-five years ago that are still puzzling today.

We hear Laura's voice from the past as she familiarizes herself with the house and the family when she first arrives and her life as the au pair at Summerbourne. 

Then we hear Seraphine's voice present day as she searches for answers from her brothers, her grandmother, and anyone who may have known her mother.

There is plenty of mystery to keep you intrigued along with Ms Rous's alluring writing and secretive characters. 

The flashbacks and description of life at Summerbourne at that time were marvelous.  Old estates with all those rooms, the estate's family, and the folks that work on an estate are always a draw for me.

THE AU PAIR will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy secrets, mysteries, family dynamics, time travel, and descriptions that put you in the book with the characters.  

Nothing can top a good old mystery with family secrets, right? 5/5

This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Seraphine Mayes is devastated when her father has a freak accident and dies. As she goes through his things, she finds a family photo of the day she and her twin brother were born. The strange thing is, there is only one twin in the photo. She’s not sure if it’s her or her brother, but where is the other twin? Her mother looks happy enough. However, later that day her mother committed suicide and threw herself off a cliff.  To say the least, Seraphine finds the picture very strange.

As Seraphine questions her grandmother and older brother, she soon realizes her family has many secrets. The small town is constantly gossiping about them. Seraphine is determined to get answers and she starts with the au pair who vanished right after that picture was taken.

This story is filled with intrigue. It’s dark and mysterious and took me in a direction I wasn’t expecting. When I started to figure it all out, I learned that I didn't. There were even more twists in store for the readers. I couldn’t put this one down until I had all the answers.

There was one part I found a bit unbelievable, but it didn’t ruin the story for me. It just made it more intriguing. The story is told from two different view points, in two different time periods. I found this to be an interesting and captivating way to tell the story.

The Au Pair had the feel of a good old fashioned Gothic novel.
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WOW.  a twisty turny suspensful story.  
I could feel the cold English weather on the beach as i read this story.  
I thought it was very though provoking and wonderful. 

I received an Advance Review Copy of this book.  All opinions are my own. 

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As a book takes me on a journey I find myself wondering where I am going, what’s going to happen next, if I can figure it out too early I sometimes lose interest.    With The Au Pair I was kept guessing, kept peeking around the corners waiting for the next clue, and kept turning page after page until I ran out of pages.    

One picture can change the entire dynamic of a family.   It can open doors that are much better kept shut; it can bring up questions that should never be asked.    But once that door is open it can never be shut again.   Seraphina starts questioning everything that she once knew to be true and starts unweaving the story of her life.   With each string, she pulls she finds another story that doesn’t quite fit.    

The dual timelines and the twists and turns kept me reading, kept me up at night reading, and makes this a 5-star book.   It is everything it was promised to be and more.   There were amazing characters, wonderful settings, twisted stories,  family dynamics to figure out, and so much more.
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