Thursday, March 7, 2019

Book Review: "The Au Pair" by Emma Rous

Seraphine and Danny Mayes are twins, born at Summerbourne, their family's estate on the English coast. Not long after their birth, their troubled mother, Ruth, leapt off the cliffs and fell to her death.

And as if that tragedy wasn't enough chaos for one day, the family's young au pair, Laura, also fled Summerbourne, never to be heard from again. While the twins were raised by their father and their fiercely protective maternal grandmother, the local townspeople never ceased whispering about the events of that day, talking about family curses, sprites that steal babies, and other dark magic.

Years later, the twins' father has died in an accident and Seraphine is in mourning at Summerbourne. While going through her father's possessions, she finds a photo that intrigues her. The photo is of their parents and their older brother, Edwin, and in the photo her parents look blissfully happy. But what's mysterious about the photo is their mother is only holding one baby, and it was taken the day they were born, just before their mother's suicide.

Who is the baby in the picture, Seraphine or Danny? Why isn't the other baby in the picture? Seraphine has always felt that her grandmother treated her differently than Danny—does she know something about her parentage? What caused Laura to run away all those years ago? And why, on what seemed to be one of the happiest days of her life, would their mother commit suicide after giving birth to both of them?

With no real information except the photo she found and a copy of Laura's au pair contract, Seraphine decides to try and figure out what happened that day. She wants to determine the truth of who she is, and why everything went so awry that day. Little does she know that there's someone determined to keep those secrets secret, and the more she digs, the more she puts herself—and others in her family—in danger.

The Au Pair is full of family drama and intrigue. I just can't get enough of novels about family secrets, and you throw in a little mystery and I'm totally there. Emma Rous throws in lots of twists and turns—so many that at one point I had to re-read a section to be sure I was clear on what was happening—and while there might not be many surprises (if any), she created a compelling enough story to keep me flying through it.

The story shifts back and forth between Seraphine's attempts to figure out the secrets around the day she and Danny were born, and Laura's time as an au pair, until everything comes to a climax. If you're like me, you'll suspect practically everyone, and even wonder if there was a little of the supernatural involved as town legend would have it.

If you like your mysteries with a healthy dose of family melodrama, pick up The Au Pair. It's a fascinating read, and it feels like it would be a terrific made for television movie. Read it before it gets adapted!

No comments:

Post a Comment