The Au Pair


Emma Rous


Mystery & Thriller


Date Reviewed:

February 11, 2020

picked up this book because the front cover praised it as "entrancing and compelling" while the back cover promised a "gripping story". The synopsis on the back explained it was a story about twins and family secrets. I had just recently finished The 13th Tale, which is a mystery story featuring twins, and I enjoyed it immensely. Could Au Pair rise to the level of The 13th Tale? No.

I read this book on a long flight from New York to Seattle. I wouldn't have finished it if I had been at home, with a selection of worthier novels available. The Au Pair is annoying. The characters are not likeable, there is little suspense, and the plot relies on some EXTRAORDINARY coincidences. The story is told in alternating chapters from the point of view of two women - Laura and Seraphine. Laura is the Au Pair of the book title, her story is told in the third person. Laura works as an Au Pair for the wealthy Mayes family that lives in an estate called Summerbourne. In 1992, Laura spends a year working as an Au Pair, watching the 4 year old Edwin Mayes. Seraphine's story is told in first person 25 years later (2017). Seraphine's story begins after the death of her father. With her father unexpectedly dead, Seraphine realizes she has no one to question about the dark family mysteries - specifically, what happened to her mom? Seraphine's mom jumped off of a cliff on the day on the day she gave birth to Seraphine and her twin brother Danny.

I was quite annoyed by the frantic fretting of Seraphine. "I just want some answers", she keeps moaning. What if, Seraphine wonders, she isn't actually the daughter of her parents? Gasp! Maybe that would explain why her grandmother has told Seraphine that she will not inherit the Summerbourne mansion. Just get a DNA test kit, Seraphine! It is 2017, how could you not have heard of these things? The more Seraphine flounders around asking questions, the more someone tries to warn her away from her investigation. A threatening message is written in lipstick on her mirror! A dead bird lies on the front porch! Someone uses a torch to burn a warning into the grass of the front lawn!

The last 50 pages of the novel are the worst. In these final chapters, the characters all gather around Laura while she explains what happened 25 years ago. The characters gasp in astonishment at what they hear. They shout. They cry. But the amazing revelation is ridiculous...