The Au Pair

There’s a trio of books I’ve been planning to read in succession, all related to living in another’s home as part of your job duties. Before I get to Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key and Riley Sager’s Lock Every Door, I decided to start with The Au Pair by Emma Rous. Published in January this year, The Au Pair is her first novel.

The book sets up two main timelines about women who may have crossed paths a quarter century ago. In 1991, Laura is a teenager fleeing from a difficult year to work as a live-in nanny in the English countryside. She becomes an au pair to young Edwin, living in the house with his parents, Ruth and Dominic. The couple is trying to have another child, but there are tensions between them. Their relationships with Ruth’s mother Vera, as well as their friend Alex, are also unstable. Laura’s time there starts off normally enough, but she eventually becomes privy to some secrets and watches as everything starts to fall apart.

Fast forward to 2017, Seraphine and Danny are the twin siblings to older brother Edwin. Their mother died shortly after their birth in 1992, and now their father has passed away. It’s during this grieving period that Seraphine uncovers an old photo, taken on the day of her and Danny’s birth. Strangely, Ruth is only holding one of the twins, though it’s unclear which one. This launches a twisting search into the truth behind her and Danny, and the truth behind their mother’s untimely death. Are these twins, as the rumors say, actually changelings? Are they even really twins? Was her mother’s death a result of mental instability… or something else?

Despite a slow beginning, The Au Pair grows into a gripping mystery, and the stakes keep building with each chapter. Someone isn’t happy that Seraphine is snooping into her own past, and the threats scare some people from revealing what they know.

I love how The Au Pair delves into the secrets of a broken family, uncovering surprising twists and foul play. I came up with a few theories as I read, but was pleasantly surprised when I was eventually proven wrong. It’s not as obvious as it first looks, and Emma Rous does a good job of keeping some shocks hidden for the end.

The Au Pair was a great book, and a fun mystery to immerse myself in. It grew stronger as it went, and the ending made the read worth it. I’ll certainly look forward to Emma Rous’s next book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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