The Au Pair by Emma Rous is a book I borrowed from my mum. Set in England, it’s a mystery with lots of twists and turns. Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny are known as the summer-born Summerbournes: the first set of summer twins to be born at Summerbourne House. But on the day they are born, their mother throws herself to her death, the au pair of the older sibling Edwin flees from the house, and the village is full of whispers of cloaked figures and a stolen baby.
Now twenty-five and mourning the death of her father, Seraphine uncovers a photo from the day of her birth that shows her parents posing with just one baby. Is it Seraphine or Danny? And where is the other twin? Seraphine becomes fixated with the mystery of her birth and can’t shake the thought that something is not quite right. So she sets off to investigate, opening a whole vault of secrets that someone doesn’t want uncovered.
On the back blurb for The Au Pair there’s a quote saying it’s reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier – an author whose writing I love. When I first started reading this book, I could see a hint of a resemblance to Daphne’s writing, but it’s a bit of a stretch comparing this book by a first-time author to a writer of so many enduring classics. I still think Emma Rous did an amazing job for her first novel. There was mystery, atmosphere and a lot of suspense.
The Au Pair had me speeding through the pages to reach the end and try to solve the mystery. My mind was full of all sorts of wild theories. I enjoyed the setting of a country home and the two stories from different timelines – Seph’s point-of-view as she tries to unravel the mystery of her birth and the au pair Laura’s storyline which takes place twenty-five years earlier in the lead-up to the birth of the twins and the death of their mother.
As the book got closer and closer to the end, there was a lot to unravel. And the grand reveal was pretty unbelievable and complicated. I think rather than untying all the knots in the plot the author managed to create more knots. I’m all for mysteries being complicated so long as they are also realistic and I feel like there were just too many unbelievable plot points in the end of this novel.
I still enjoyed this book a lot. If you look on Goodreads it has a lot of four and three star reviews. Readers enjoy this book, but many people are a bit iffy about the direction it takes at the end. So, a good book overall but a little bit of a head scratching ending. I think you just need to read it and judge it for yourself.
Verdict: A solid debut mystery that is well worth giving a read.