Penguin Publishing Group | January 2019 | 384 pgs
Source: Library

The story opens with Seraphine Mayes uncovering a family photograph while she's going through her late father's belongings. Seraphine's father, Dominic, fell while fixing the roof; leaving his three grown up children behind. Seraphine has lots of memories of her childhood living at Summerbourne, their family estate on the Norfolk coast. After all, she and her twin brother, Danny, were born in the middle of summer there.  

Looking back at the photo she's holding, she realises that something is amiss. The photo was taken on the day the twins were born; and it showed their late mother, seated between her husband and their older brother, Edwin. However, she was captured holding just one baby instead of two. Seraphine has never seen her mother; from what she knew their mother threw herself from the cliffs just within hours of their birth. No one really knows what happened that day. In order to uncover the mystery surrounding the photo as well as their mother's death, Seraphine decided that the best person she could ask is Edwin's au pair, Laura. But first, she needs to track down Laura since there hasn't been any news of her since the tragedy at Summerbourne. And the mystery soon gets more complicated as Seraphine finds someone leaving her warning signs to stop her investigations. 

This first novel by Emma Rous sucked me in right from the beginning till the end with a cast of intriguing characters and a well developed plot. And, I've no idea what to categorise this book as it combines mystery with domestic noir. As readers, we learn about this story through Seraphine's and Laura's eyes set in present 2017 and 1991 respectively. Both perspectives and timelines are an interesting read, but I was more drawn to Laura's voice. Laura works as an au pair partly because she wants to prove to her mother and her mother's partner that she could be independent while earning some money for her studies. She has no experience as an au pair but she's well liked by Ruth and young Edwin. And the more she gets to know the family she soon realises that Summerbourne not only has history but secrets as well. And speaking of Summerbourne, I've to say it is a character on its own. I was enamoured by its coastal beauty and the countryside atmosphere. Although this is very much about the mystery surrounding the missing twin in the picture, actually I felt it is much more on the family dynamics and the relationship between the Mayes' family and Laura. An impressive first novel and I'm definitely will be on the look out for the author's next release. 

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16 Responses
  1. Mystica Says:

    This sounds fascinating. Unfortunately Netgalley turned me down on this one.

  2. Kay Says:

    Glad to hear your thoughts on this one, Melody. I've been considering reading it as I saw it available at the library the other day. I think I'll pick it up if I see it again. Where is the other baby or who is the other baby? Ha!

  3. jenclair Says:

    This one sounds so good! Thanks for the review. :)

  4. Lark Says:

    When this book first came out I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but your review has convinced me otherwise. Thanks, Melody! :)

  5. I loved this book too! I agree that the setting was a character itself. I can't resist an old manor house on the coast of England.

  6. Verushka Says:

    Ah, every review I read adores this book. This is on my TBR and I definitely need to get to it soon !

  7. I thought this was pretty good as well.

  8. Melody Says:

    Mystica - It was an interesting read. I hope you'll enjoy it when you get to it, Mystica.

  9. Melody Says:

    Kay - I was glad I picked this up. That cover can be deceiving as it looks like a women's fiction, isn't it?

  10. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I really enjoyed reading this book and I hope you do too, Jenclair. :)

  11. Melody Says:

    Lark - As I mentioned to Kay this looks like a women's fiction at first glance but luckily I've seen this book around so I knew I've to pick it up. :D

  12. Melody Says:

    Diana - Me too, Diana! I can't resist a book with a setting like that. :)

  13. Melody Says:

    Verushka - I hope you'll enjoy it, Verushka. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

  14. Melody Says:

    Diane - I can't wait for her next book already. :)

  15. Iliana Says:

    Great review, Melody! I want to read this one. I love that there's a coastal setting!

  16. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did, Iliana. :)

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