There were so many things I liked about this book. We have an old English country estate called Summerbourne, a seemingly neurotic young woman named Seraphine Mayes who is obsessed with finding out about her early life, a mystery about Ruth (Seraphine and her twin brother Danny’s mother), Ruth’s suicide and an ending that will blow you away.
The Au Pair is Laura Silverira, hired to take care of young Edwin Mayes. The other players are Edwin’s parents, Ruth and Dominic Mayes, their friend Alex and Ruth’s mother Vera. In Laura’s chapters we see the interactions between these people. Ruth appears to vacillate between depression and paranoia 80% of the time. Her mother Vera is domineering and controlling, but perhaps she is trying to take care of Ruth. The time period is 1992, the year Seraphine and Danny were born.
Seraphine’s chapters are in present day. Her father Dominic recently died in an accident. As Seraphine goes through her father’s belongings she finds a photo of her parents and Edwin, her mother holding a newborn. Her mother is smiling yet hours later she throws herself off a cliff. Why is there only one baby in the photo when Ruth had twins and – which baby is it? Is it Seraphine or Danny? This is the catalyst setting Seraphine off in search of the au pair Laura, hoping to find out what happened all those years ago.
Her brothers urge her to leave it alone and of course she doesn’t. The consequences of her secret investigation into their past will have devastating consequences. As you get to know the characters you’ll wonder if Seraphine isn’t a fragile sort of person, perhaps suffering from mild depression or anxiety. Are some of her assumptions and theories valid or is she over the edge? This is all revealed as you read on and to mention some outcomes would certainly spoil your reading experience.
This story is like a fireworks display. It starts as a slow simmer, builds up steam and then blows up around the 85% mark with dynamic revelations. I am awaiting this author’s next book and hope it’s as engaging and mysterious as this book.
Food makes an appearance here and there:
“Edwin and I unpack the grocery bags together on Saturday morning. As ever, the effect the fresh ingredients have on him is powerful: he smiles as he rubs his thumbs over the onions, flexes the celery, sniffs at the Parmesan and inspects the prawns. He’s in his element, relaxed and happy.”
Chocolate tiffin, cinnamon pastries, slices of carrot cake with thick lemon frosting, an apple plum crumble, pots of homemade applesauce, flapjacks, chocolate sponge cake, speared pineapple and chunks of cheese.
“Dominic was pressing sprigs of rosemary into a joint of lamb, a mound of unwashed potatoes sat by the sink.”
Roasted turkey and potatoes and chipolatas.
I didn’t have the chipolatas but I do have turkey and roasted potatoes 🙂
Much thanks to NetGalley for this advanced copy. Opinions are mine and I was not compensated for the review. Publication date is January 8, 2019.