STARRED REVIEW
January 2019

The Au Pair

By Emma Rous
Review by

Emma Rous’ debut novel, The Au Pair, is a delightfully paced gothic tale about a family’s snarled secrets and what happens when you start pulling at their strings.

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Emma Rous’ debut novel, The Au Pair, is a delightfully paced gothic tale about a family’s snarled secrets and what happens when you start pulling at their strings.

Seraphine is staying at Summerbourne, her family’s manor on the Norfolk coast, mourning the death of her father and reminiscing about her childhood. While rifling through old family photo albums, she is shocked to stumble across a chilling image. In it, her mother holds a baby, and Seraphine’s older brother and father stand smiling in the picture. The photograph is picture-perfect: a family posing proudly with their newborn. But Seraphine is a twin, and hours after she and her twin brother, Danny, were born, her mother tragically threw herself from the cliffs behind their luxurious home.

The mourning daughter begins a hunt for clues as to what happened on that dreadful day and why only one baby is in the photograph. Her search leads her to Laura, the family’s former au pair, who mysteriously left Summerbourne the same day Seraphine and Danny were born and their mother died. Then messages—at first subtle and then explicit—are sent to stop Seraphine from digging any deeper. Her brothers begin to worry for her sanity and then her safety, as odd events start to unfold throughout her search for the truth.

Told in interweaving narratives of Seraphine’s present and Laura’s past, The Au Pair is a thrilling tale that plays on local folklore, hidden family histories and the small decisions that alter the trajectories of many lives. With vivid characters, a magical setting and a tightly knitted plot, The Au Pair is a splendid read that will be best enjoyed with a book club or a buddy, as you’ll be itching to digest the tale’s twists with someone else, especially when you reach the jaw-dropping climax.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Au Pair

The Au Pair

By Emma Rous
Berkley
ISBN 9780440000457

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