Book Reviews

The Au Pair by Emma Rous


After the death of her father, Seraphine Mayes is going through his belongings when she comes across a photo taken on the day that she and her twin brother, Danny, were born. The photo shows their older brother, father, and mother, who is holding one baby in her arms and looks happy…. which is odd, because their mother committed suicide the day they were born. And why is there only one baby in the photograph? Which twin is in the photo, and where is the other one? Unable to get answers from her grandmother, Vera, Seraphine is determined to track down the only other person who was there that day—the au pair who disappeared after her mother’s tragic death.

The Au Pair is an impressive debut that you’ll want to devour in one sitting.

The story is told in two timelines, from two perspectives: Seraphine in the present, and Laura (the au pair) in the past. Seraphine’s story revolves around the mystery of the photograph, and her efforts to discover the truth about that day. In Laura’s portion of the story, we see what happens from the beginning of her job as an au pair to the Mayes family. Both stories take place at Summerbourne, the Mayes family estate… and if those walls could talk, what stories they could tell!

I loved the gothic edge Summerbourne gave to the story. It was nowhere near as creepy as V.C. Andrews Foxworth Hall (although, to be fair, not many are!), but a certain area of the property—the cliffs—definitely gave me the shivers, thanks to everything that happened there.

I had a lot of theories about that photograph, as well as why the mother committed suicide hours after giving birth, but nothing prepared me for the big reveal: it was far more shocking than anything I thought was going to happen. One twist seemed too incredible to be believed at first glance, until a quick reread of key moments in the story convinced me it was entirely plausible.

Rous knocked it out of the park with this outstanding debut. She’s definitely got a fan in me, and I can’t WAIT to read her next novel!

I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of Berkley.

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Author: Emma Rous
Title: The Au Pair
Genre: Gothic, Mystery
Publication Date: January 8, 2019 by Berkley
Rating: 5 stars

About the Book

A grand estate, terrible secrets, and a young woman who bears witness to it all. If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’ The Au Pair would be it.

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 beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

About the Author

EMMA ROUS grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before switching to full time writing in 2016. Emma lives in Cambridgeshire, England, with her husband and three sons.

The Au Pair is her first novel. It will be published in ten countries, in nine languages. She is currently writing her second book.

She can be found on Facebook at and on Instagram as emmarousauthor.

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