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The Au Pair

The Au Pair

Book - 2019
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"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, and mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine begins to go through his belongings, when 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. Who is the child and what really happened that day? Someone knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her. The au pair" --
Publisher: New York : Berkley, [2019]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780440000457
Branch Call Number: FIC ROUS 2019
Characteristics: 360 pages ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

After giving birth to Seraphine and her twin brother Danny, their mother throws herself from a cliff. 25 years later, Seraphine finds a picture that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her childhood. For fans of compelling suspense novels and family secrets. ~ Selena Swink, L... Read More »

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Jun 04, 2021

For a debut novel, I applaud the author. This was a real page turner and throughout I just couldn't make head nor tail out of what happened. I enjoyed this book a lot but like another reviewer agree that the execution of the ending was slightly disappointing. But without a doubt I would read another novel by this author.

CCPL_Carly Dec 21, 2020

With a plot as dramatic as the Norfolk cliffs and a number of satisfying twists, this page-turning debut is a modern take on the gothic novel tradition. The atmospheric settings, multiple family secrets, and underlying mysteries make this an immersive read.

Sep 14, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a page turner for sure. I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens. Found it confusing at times with the different characters and going back and forth between the past and present, but thought it was a good read altogether.

Sep 20, 2019

I couldn't put this book down. Amazing, intriguing story. 5 stars!

RandomLibrarian Jul 24, 2019

Review excerpt: "'The Au Pair' by Emma Rous is a slightly Gothic psychological thriller that focuses on one woman’s suspicion that she might not be physically related to her own family. The premise is excellent and while I kept turning pages well into the night, I found that when I finished the book, I was only slightly satisfied with the resolution. Part of that is because the final reveals are executed a little clumsily. The other part is that aside from the heroine, Seraphine, this book is mostly about people doing awful things to each other."

Jun 03, 2019

This book came to my attention via "Booked For Breakfast" - a daily emailed snippet of various books to acquaint one with old and new (to you) authors. The first 16 pages were promising. I am glad I checked this out as it was a pretty enjoyable story line. Being adopted, I am always intrigued by stories that are not the usual family line, and this did not disappoint. Yes, maybe parts here and there asked you to suspend reality a little, but then again, it IS fiction! All in all, I would recommend this as a quick, enjoyable read.

Feb 19, 2019

Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A thoroughly engaging family mystery...

Seraphine’s world has been rocked by the loss of her dear father in an accident. While going through his things after his death, she finds a picture from the day she and her twin brother Danny were born. The only problem is that her mother is only holding one baby… Her mother committed suicide later that same day, so Seraphine has never known the details of her was all too painful for her father, grandmother, and older brother to discuss. And then there’s the matter of the au pair who also suddenly went missing that day...

Seraphine resolves to find out just what happened the day she was there a simple reason for only having one baby in the photo? Why did her mother, who looked very content in this photo, kill herself only hours later? Why did Laura, the au pair, vanish that day never to be heard from again? And why is the rest of her family so hesitant to dig into the past?

Pros: I loved the back and forth chapters featuring Laura in 1991 and Seraphine in the present. The suspense builds as Laura’s perspective gets closer and closer to the day it all went so wrong. The settings were described beautifully, I almost felt as if I were in Summerbourne too! I also loved the cover of this book - utterly gorgeous!

Cons: A bit of a slow read if I’m honest, but one I still enjoyed. A few things were left hanging at the end which is always a bit of an irritation for me.

Very good!

Feb 10, 2019

Throughly enjoyed reading this book. A good old-fashioned twisting and turning, plot building mystery, that held my interest from cover to cover and no swear words used throughout! Terrific! I highly recommend!

Dec 17, 2018

Having grown up as a twin, I love to read books about characters who are twins. This new thriller by Emma Rous is a twisty, twin tale that is full of surprises. The story begins with Seraphine and her quest to discover the truth about a photo she finds from the day of her birth. The photo had been taken by the family's au pair (Laura). We view the action in past and present story lines, the present being Seraphine's story and the past one is Laura's. As the truth emerges, danger lurks and it is hard to know if anyone is trustworthy. A dark tale of family intrigue that will keep you up late to see what happens next.

Dec 06, 2018

I read an advance copy of this book for the book blog I write and wanted to share my review here! My blog is

Emma Rous’s debut novel follows a young woman named Seraphine Mayes who is desperate to learn more about the circumstances surrounding her mother's’ suicide and her own family history.

Only hours after Seraphine and her twin brother Danny were born on the Mayes’ family’s elegant English estate, their mother jumped from the cliffs behind their home. More than two decades later, after the passing of the twins’ father, Seraphine decides to track down the au pair, Laura, who lived with the family when she was born. What she uncovers is a family secret that spans decades and includes a variety of mysterious and sometimes sinister characters.

Told in alternating points of view between Seraphine and Laura, The Au Pair explores tense family relationships, a gossipy small town, and utter mayhem of child-rearing. The most intriguing plotline in the novel isn’t Seraphine’s search for her identity, but rather Laura’s experiences as an au pair, and in particular her relationship with the Mayes’ family’s eldest son, Edwin. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming and sometimes painful relationship between child and guardian that’s perfectly written and deeply emotional. Laura, only a teenager herself, has to grow up quickly living with a family who isn't what it seems and an employer battling her own demons.

If you’re an adamant realist, The Au Pair may not be the ideal book for you. Rous’s storyline requires readers to suspend disbelief at times, but ultimately pays off in its ability to shock and surprise them. With a hauntingly beautiful setting and a relatable leading character desperate two know more about who she really is, The Au Pair is likely to make “Best Beach Reads of 2019” lists everywhere.

Several plot twists and surprises are rather easy to see coming, but others will genuinely catch readers by surprise. Although some loose ends are tied up in a way that may be a bit of a stretch, The Au Pair’s ending is a generally satisfying and clean one. You won’t walk away from the book feeling like something was missing or unclear.

In a literary market saturated with domestic thrillers, it's hard for a writer or story to stand out. The Au Pair, while a fun read, isn’t likely to break records as the best thriller of the year. But with a unique plot and likeable characters it is a fun and worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys this kind of novel. With two (complicated) love stories as subplots, The Au Pair will also appeal to any readers who crave romance.

Emma Rous, a Cambridge graduate who practiced veterinary medicine for almost two decades before turning to writing, is a talented author and definitely someone to watch out for in the coming years. The Au Pair, while not perfect, is a strong literary debut and a book that is sure to please its readers.

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker


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