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 by Emma Rous is one of those books that is almost impossible to put down. The characters are interesting and the storyline is unpredictable. Told through two perspectives, the present day is told by Seraphina Mayes, and the past by Laura, the au pair.
Seraphina Mayes is a twin. She and her brother Danny look nothing alike. Making things worse, she doesn’t look like her older brother Edwin either. Seraphina doesn’t fit in and questions her identity. When her father dies unexpectedly, she comes across a family photo in which her mother is holding one baby in her arms and Edwin’s hand. Seraphina is even more convinced that her family has been keeping secrets. With no one to go to for answers (her mother, Ruth, died giving birth) Seraphina starts her own investigation.
Laura is the au pair who took care of Edwin for almost a year during Ruth’s pregnancy. She accepted the position as a way to escape a terrible situation with her boyfriend, as well as her stepfather’s verbal abuse. Laura was there the day that Ruth died. Knowing more than she has revealed, Laura has remained hidden until contacted by Seraphina.
The present and the past collide as Laura reveals the events leading up to the birth of the twins. The mystery kept me engaged from the beginning, and I loved the way the truths and lies are slowly divulged through the plot forever changing the lives of the characters.
I love domestic noir and haven’t had the pleasure of reading one in a while. Though this is not a “sitting on the edge of my seat” type of story, there is mystery and some suspense.