The Au Pair

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

The review will post on January 1st. 

Emma Rous' The Au Pair is touted to be a mix of V.C. Andrews and Kate Morton. I'm not familiar with Kate Morton, but I read many V.C. Andrews stories as a teen. I would agree with that thought.

After her father's death, Seraphine Mayes is reeling. She comes across a photo in the family estate and wonders why only one of the infants is in the photo with the mom she never knew. She and her twin Danny were left behind when their mother jumped off a cliff shortly after their birth.

After the suicide, the family's beloved au pair left for good. Seraphine's older brother never understood why. He lost his mother and his nanny in one day. Their father was the last link they had to the past.

Seraphine decides to investigate and learn the truth about her mother's suicide and why only one baby is in the photo. Soon, she is receiving threatening messages. Someone doesn't want her to uncover the truth.

There's a mix of good and bad to be found within The Au Pair. The story is told from Seraphine's point of view in the present day and the au pair's point of view in the past. I found the narrative moved swiftly and kept the story progressing.

The bad is that I pegged the outcome and the real events that day far too early. Despite the townspeople believing the family was cursed, I had it pegged. I think that's why I found it so reminiscent of V.C. Andrews.

This story had me hooked. It is predictable, but I became so involved in the lives of both past and present characters that I couldn't stop reading.
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This novel really pulled me in at the beginning. I'm a sucker for multiple timelines in books, so I loved that we followed Seraphine in the present day and the titular character, Laura (the au pair), in 1991 and 1992. The writing felt atmospheric and intriguing, and everything was set up in a way that there were immediately questions I had to keep reading to find the answers to.

But about halfway through the book, it really lost me. I should say first of all I really, really don't like cheating and secret babies in books. But sometimes I can bear it if it's done in a way that makes me ache for the characters. But the motivations behind the characters in the 90s timeline were so flimsy that I couldn't connect with any of them and just wanted to roll my eyes at all their drama. (I don't think the drama is supposed to be eyeroll-inducing.) We're supposed to believe one character is in love with another, but the infatuation comes off so flat that I just... wanted that character to go away. Several characters end up sleeping with each other for no apparent reason. It just felt like everything had been purposely set up to create drama, but the tension made me annoyed rather than eager to keep reading.

I made myself keep reading, though, because things had become so convoluted that I did want to find out which child was which. So another point to Emma Rous for at least keeping the twists coming. But it was just too much.

The reveals seemed, to me, extremely over-the-top. I'll try not to spoil it, but... I know suspense and thriller novels have some element of exaggeration, but even my suspension of disbelief could not withstand the drama after about the 70% mark of this book. Several of my suspicions were correct, (which is fine with me -- I don't mind being able to predict twists, because it makes the payoff nice) but I almost wished they weren't, because they were not executed in a way that made me feel like all the tension had been worth it.

By 88% I didn't feel like putting myself through any more of it. There might have been even more twists at the end, but I didn't care to find out.

I'd give this book 4 stars for perhaps the first half, but 2 for the second half, which rounds it out to three stars. I wish I had loved this book more -- it sounded right up my alley. The cover is still absolutely beautiful, though.
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After losing her father in a tragic accident, Seraphine finds an old family photo taken just after her birth. In it, her mother looks radiantly happy as she holds her newborn baby with her 4 year old on one side and husband on the other. The problem is, Seraphine has a twin brother and her mother killed herself mere hours after the picture was taken. Is she really the baby in the photo? If not, who is it? If so, where is her twin? And, what happened in the space of a few short hours to drive her mother over the edge?

Told from alternating POVs, this story moves back and forth between present day Seraphine and Laura, the Au Pair employed by her family the summer she was born. Believable characters and twists and turns drew me in from the first chapter. Highly recommended for fans of mystery/suspense novels and family dramas. I found this one comparable to what I've read from Liane Moriarty.
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There were so many things I liked about this book.  We have an old English country estate called Summerbourne, a seemingly neurotic young woman named Seraphine Mayes who is obsessed with finding out about her early life, a mystery about Ruth (Seraphine and her twin brother Danny’s mother), Ruth’s suicide and an ending that will blow you away.

The Au Pair is Laura Silverira, hired to take care of young Edwin Mayes. The other players are Edwin’s parents, Ruth and Dominic Mayes, their friend Alex and Ruth’s mother Vera. In Laura’s chapters we see the interactions between these people. Ruth appears to vacillate between depression and paranoia 80% of the time. Her mother Vera is domineering and controlling, but perhaps she is trying to take care of Ruth. The time period is 1992, the year Seraphine and Danny were born.

Seraphine’s chapters are in present day. Her father Dominic recently died in an accident. As Seraphine goes through her father’s belongings she finds a photo of her parents and Edwin, her mother holding a newborn. Her mother is smiling yet hours later she throws herself off a cliff. Why is there only one baby in the photo when Ruth had twins and – which baby is it? Is it Seraphine or Danny? This is the catalyst setting Seraphine off in search of the au pair Laura, hoping to find out what happened all those years ago.

Her brothers urge her to leave it alone and of course she doesn’t. The consequences of her secret investigation into their past will have devastating consequences. As you get to know the characters you’ll wonder if Seraphine isn’t a fragile sort of person, perhaps suffering from mild depression or anxiety. Are some of her assumptions and theories valid or is she over the edge? This is all revealed as you read on and to mention some outcomes would certainly spoil your reading experience.

This story is like a fireworks display. It starts as a slow simmer, builds up steam and then blows up around the 85% mark with dynamic revelations. I am awaiting this author’s next book and hope it’s as engaging and mysterious as this book.

Food makes an appearance here and there:

“Edwin and I unpack the grocery bags together on Saturday morning. As ever, the effect the fresh ingredients have on him is powerful: he smiles as he rubs his thumbs over the onions, flexes the celery, sniffs at the Parmesan and inspects the prawns. He’s in his element, relaxed and happy.”

Chocolate tiffin, cinnamon pastries, slices of carrot cake with thick lemon frosting, an apple plum crumble, pots of homemade applesauce, flapjacks, chocolate sponge cake, speared pineapple and chunks of cheese.

“Dominic was pressing sprigs of rosemary into a joint of lamb, a mound of unwashed potatoes sat by the sink.”

Roasted turkey and potatoes and chipolatas.

I didn't have the chipolatas but I do have turkey and roasted potatoes :-)

(photo on my blog)

Much thanks to NetGalley for this advanced copy. Opinions are mine and I was not compensated for the review. Publication date is January 8, 2019.
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Part gothic tale, part modern mystery, this book is another page turner that will have you reading long into the night, as you attempt with Seraphine to unravel a web of lies so taunt that it seems there are more false leads than truth! As each member of the 'straight out of an Agatha tale' book gets introduced, it seems we know less and less about them, as the lies cover the truth everywhere Seraphine turns. As family member after family member begs her to drop her search, she knows they each have memories they have either forgotten, or chosen to pretend never happened.this one will keep you up long into the night too, so be prepared!
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Gretchen Snodgrass's review Nov 26, 2018  ·  edit
really liked it

I was drawn into this story from the very beginning. The setting takes place between two time periods, 1991 and 2017, in an estate called Summerbourne. The au pair of the title tells the 1991 story, and Seraphine tells the modern one. Although the story takes place in modern times, the atmosphere and tone of the story are old time gothic. It reminded me of books written by Daphne DuMaurier. There's a mystery behind the Summerbourne twins' lives, and after their father dies, Seraphine starts to delve into the past. As the past starts to collide with the present, secrets are revealed about all involved. This book held my interest and kept me guessing throughout. This was a good read.
I received an Advance Review Copy. All opinions are my own.
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This was a great book for a long weekend or a vacation - really absorbing. It's easy to get sucked into the world of privileged but isolated Summerbourne and the family that has resided there for generations somewhere in the English countryside. This was one of those stories that relies on to narrators from different time periods in the story, a technique I love. This relies mostly in the accounts of Laura, an Au Pair in the 90s and Seraphine, the woman whose older brother Laura Nannied as a child. I'm not a big mystery reader but I liked the mystery to this story, along with the generational stories and characters. You're really guessing at the plot resolution until the very last minute. The plot can seem overly complicated at points, your often re-reading or tempted to draw yourself a diagram, but not too often. If you really love mysteries this may be more of a winner for you, I just didn't feel too emotional connected to the characters.
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I did find this book enjoyable for the most part but the ending was just too convoluted, long and confusing. It was rather ridiculous honestly and ruined how fascinated I was with the first half of the book.
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Suspenseful novel about right after Seraphine and her twin brother Danny are born their mother throws herself off a cliff and their au pair disappears. Years later after her father dies she goes through papers and photographs and she has many questions about her mother and her death and what really happened. Interesting novel worth reading.
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Told in dual storylines leading up to what happened on one day, this is one compulsive mystery-thriller!  I'm still reeling from the red herrings and twists. I'd think I figured something out and then...nope. And the actuality of what happened kind of blew my mind...I'm still thinking about it.
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The Au Pair, a mysterious figure in the life of twins Danny and Seraphine, seems to be the only one who can explain why there is only one baby in the birth-day photo of the twins, and maybe why their mother threw herself from the cliff right after. But the au pair doesn't want to talk to them and their older brother doesn't remember a lot, just that HIS twin died falling from the cliff before Danny and Seraphine were born. The townspeople believe the family is cursed--that no set of twins will survive. But Danny and Seraphine have survived to adulthood.

After the death of their father, Seraphine is determined to get to the bottom of the mysteries, at any cost to herself and her brothers. Barriers are thrown in her path and she is warned time and again but persists in trying to learn the truth. Read The Au Pair by Emma Rous to learn if she is successful. Recommended for those who enjoy a good mystery. Dr. Cheryl Youse, Colqutit County High School
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This twisty tale about an au pair who gets drawn into a dysfunctional love triangle kept me turning pages to the end. Told in two different voices, between the past and the present, this story was at times confusing and convoluted but still an enjoyable read.
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This is a story told from the POV of the two main characters. The POV are from different periods of the story and alternate back and forth. It took me a bit to keep the storyline straight but once I got in a few chapters, I was off. 

I thought at different times during the story that I had figured out the mystery but of course I was wrong. Once I got in to the plot then I didn't want to put the book down. The characters were well developed and I enjoy the book.
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This family will need a walk-in closet for all of their skeletons! This story is told in alternating voices, one in the past, and one in the present. A well-to-do family is in need of some help with their son because the father works in London all week and the mother isn't quite herself. The au pair arrives and is thrust into a complicated set up. The events of late 1991 and through the summer of 1992 reached into the present day and continued their complicated story.
While a little predictable, it was still a good tale. Three and a half stars.
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An intense, roller coaster of a ride.  One of those thrillers that some might not want to read at first glance, but one that they should definitely take the time to read.  4-5 stars.  
Will be highly recommending and using in a daily challenge in Chapter Chatter Pub!
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This book held my interest for a while, then the author went a different way then I thought it was going to end. Ending was unbelievable and I didn’t enjoy it.
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This is a highly entertaining read, but also somewhat predictable. From the moment you are filled in about the protagonist's "mysterious" birth, there seems to be a clear solution as to what happened. Of course that solution requires some questionable actions of its characters, but that's as to be expected in modern day psychological thrillers. If the characters acted rationally, you wouldn't have a book. While the end isn't shocking or even surprising, it's still a fun read to get lost in for a few hours.
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After the death of her father, Seraphine discovers a photo in his belongings that raises questions about her childhood--and the she thinks the au pair living with them at the time of her birth and her mother's death might have the answers she seeks.

This book alternated between Seraphine in the present and the au pair in the past until everything comes together in the end. An entertaining, gothic-style story.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing this review copy.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we... etc.,  This particular deception had lasted from the time the twins were born til they were twenty-five years old, and now one of the twins was curious.  Always having a feeling of isolation and something not right in the family, it was only after her father's death that she finally felt driven enough to pursue her inquiries into her family.   Warned off by family and friends, she remained determined to find an answer.  

The answers she finds keep her asking more questions, and in the end the answers are so convoluted it's almost hard to keep them straight!  However, the answers and the way the answers actually came about will keep you interested to the end.  

Great book!
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I felt really good about this book when I began it but as I continued to read I felt it became flat and a bit predictable. I thought the ending was bad as nothing was really concluded with the death of the mother. A bit of a let down but I still enjoyed it.
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