My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wanted so badly to read this book before publication! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snag an ARC. [Insert sad face here]. But the cover just called to me. I saw it everywhere on social media and every time I saw it, I said to myself, “You have to get your hands on that book!”
So imagine my surprise and delight when I won the Goodreads giveaway! Thanks Berkley Publishing!
Because my list of ARCs is so huge right now, it took me a while to get to a book “just for fun” but when I had the time, I knew I had to put The Au Pair on the top of the list.
The back of the book says, “If V.C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’s The Au Pair would be it.” Which is funny, because as I read it, I found myself comparing it to Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter. The story spanned multiple generations, had a hint of mystery, and the same literary writing style. I would say the publisher hit the nail on the head with that comparison.
At a high level, The Au Pair is about a young woman named Seraphine who is determined to uncover the secrets surrounding her mother’s suspicious suicide the day she was born. When she stumbles upon a photograph of her mother with a baby on that fateful day, her first thought is, “Which baby is she holding and why is there only one in the picture?” I guess I should mention here that Seraphine is a twin. So which of them is her mother holding? And why is there only one baby? She finds herself on a journey to find the family au pair that took care of her older (non-twin) brother and was present on the day of her mother’s death with hopes of uncovering the family secrets that have been buried for years.
I loved this book so much. It wasn’t the most unique book in the world just because the mystery genre is so strong and jam packed with talent right now, but I still really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the multiple timelines Emma Rous played with to tell the stories of the past and present side by side. And I felt like her writing transported me in time and place right into the story. I could imagine myself at Summerbourne and could envision the cliffs. The writing in my opinion was very strong.
I also felt like Rous kept me on my toes from start to finish. I definitely did not see some of the twists coming and appreciated the surprises throughout. I did feel like the ending took a really long time to unfold (to the tune of 80-100 pages) and felt like it possibly could have come to fruition a bit quicker. And, while I personally appreciated that the author left the ending a tad vague, I do think there may be some disappointed readers (particularly those who need everything wrapped up with a bow).
All in all, this was very strong work for a debut novel and I can’t wait to see what Emma Rous comes up with next!