THE AU PAIR – Emma Rous
Seraphine and Danny Mayes are twins born in mid-summer at Summerbourne, their family's home. But something happened on the day they were born that haunts Seraphine especially. Their mother threw herself off a cliff shortly after their birth, leaving a four year old son, her husband, and the newborns. And the family's au pair disappeared the same day. Now, another tragedy has struck. Seraphine's father has been killed in an accident at the house. It's several days after the funeral, and Seraphine is going through her father's desk. She finds a photo taken on the day of her and her twin's birth of her older brother Edwin and their parents, with her mother holding one baby. Edwin is pointing towards a young woman standing nearby. Why is there only one infant? Why do her parents look so happy when in a matter of hours, her mother will throw herself into the ocean? And who is the young woman?
So begins this gothic-like family mystery set in the English countryside. The villagers have all sorts of tales of what happened that horrific day, and why. But no one really knows for sure, and now, with her father dead, it's unlikely anyone will find the answers. But Seraphine isn't about to let the issue die. She ferrets out some answers from a few locals, and sets out to find Edwin's au pair, Laura Silveira.
Although her brothers are somewhat curious, they do not encourage Seraphine with her investigation. Neither does their grandmother, a wealthy, domineering woman who is adamant that Seraphine cease looking for answers.
Laura Silveira has not had an easy life. It's her stepfather who finds the au pair position for her in order to get her out of the house. Summerbourne is a quiet, curious home. Edwin is Laura's charge, and his mother, Ruth, seems to drift in and out of life, one minute the devoted mother, the next letting Laura take charge. Dominic Mayes works in London during the week and comes home weekends, when he cooks, and spends time with his son. He and Ruth seem happy, but Laura senses something that she cannot put a finger on. Dominic's good friend, Alex, has taken a cottage nearby and is a frequent visitor, even when Dominic is away. And then there is Vera, Ruth's mother, who appears to Laura to be the true head of the family.
Seraphine and Laura, from different decades, trade chapters as they tell this tale in their own words. Seraphine's chapters are consumed with her need to find answers. Her grandmother won't help, and her brothers support her, but prefer that she give up her quest. Laura relates her growing relationship with the Mayes family, their friends, and how much her life has, and will, change because of that relationship.
THE AU PAIR is a fantastic, mesmerizing story that kept me reading late into the night. Readers will not want to take a break from the onslaught of clues, red herrings, and sometimes frightening events that take place. As the tale hurtles to a conclusion, both Seraphine and Laura will discover answers they would never have dreamed.
THE AU PAIR is a Perfect 10 read for me. Don't miss it!