Cover Image: The Au Pair

The Au Pair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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..
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?