Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother, Danny, were born in the middle of summer at their family's estate on the Norfolk coast. Read more...
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?
The Au Pair
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.