by Emma Rous
Narrator: Elizabeth Sastre, Nicola Barber
Length: 11 hours and 31 minutes
Genres: Thriller, Noir
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.
Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.
Who is the child and what really happened that day?
One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her
The Au Pair written by Emma Rous and narrated by Elizabeth Sastre & Nicola Barber offered a suspenseful domestic-noir that held me captive. I first learned about the book at Between my Lines and jumped at the chance to review the audio. Rous takes us to the New England coast in this gothic tale as a distraught young woman searches for clues about her past.
Caffeinated Reasons to grab your headphones and listen to the Au Pair
- The story unfolds in two timelines until the past meets the present. It gives us the narratives of Seraphine (present) whose mother leapt to her death the day of her birth and those of Laura (past), the au pair who was there that fateful summer.
- Seraphine’s father dies unexpectedly and as she sorts through things she comes across a photo of her mother. Taken on the day of her and her brother’s birth, it shows only one babe with her mother and father. She knows nothing about that day, and with her father gone she realizes she may never know. This sparks her to ask questions. When she realizes the au pair must have taken the photo, she begins there. However someone seems to warn her off.
- Townsfolk believe there is a curse affecting twins at Summerbourne. Whispers surround the twins and they refer to Seraphine and her brother as the “Summerbourne Sprites”
- Family, friends and the local doctor assist or attempt to deter Seraphine, even Laura. I must admit I became swept up in searching for clues and trying to determine who wanted her to stop digging into the past.
- Emma Rous shared the POV of the au pair, Laura with us. It added a gothic vibe I found incredibly addictive. Sometimes one narrative or timeline is slower, but this wasn’t the case.
- Much went on at the Summerbourne Estate, and signs of how dysfunctional things were within its gates drew me in.
- Twists, turns, and danger kept me listening to the present. The events of that fateful summer in the past held me equally spellbound. I thought Rous did an excellent job of keeping me guessing and weaving her web. I admit things took me by surprise. Occasionally, I felt she took the easy route with clues but she ended up leaving me stunned.
- From pacing to tone The Au Pair was brilliant, thanks in part to narrators, Elizabeth Sastre and Nicola Barber. Having two distinct voices for our POVs captured the characters’ emotions and enhanced the atmospheric tone of the storyline.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: