Blurb (as on Goodreads):
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.
A story with so many layers of secret needs a stronger glue and some foolproof plot. Seraphine discovers a photo right after her father’s death and realizes that she might not actually be the true, biological daughter of her parents. Raised in the luscious, sea-facing, and gorgeous family-estate at Summerbourne, Seraphine has been shielded and loved, yet after this photo she questions everything. And then she decides that she needs some answers and that would require Laura and Alex- two characters who disappeared from their childhood never to return, even in conversations.
The story is narrated at two different timelines- the present one by Seraphine and the year 1991, narrated by Laura, the au pair who once helped her parents raise her elder brother in Summerbourne.
Laura’s story flows smoothly as she arrives as a young girl with no experience with children to take care of Edwin. She enjoys every moment in Summerbourne, which is also described elaborately. Summerbourne is picturesque and dreamy and baby Edwin and Laura have lots of fun. Laura also forms a bond with the family including Alex and Dominic.
As Seraphine searches for her story, Laura tells us what happened that fateful day that led to Seraphine’s mother’s suicide. As a whole, this story is interesting and thrilling but not without plot holes. Seraphine and her twin brother Danny were not the only kids born that day (the day Seraphine’s mother killed herself), but Laura has a story to tell and a similar story to hide. As the past and present clashes, Seraphine is left devastated.
While I have a few similar questions about certain bits of this story as other readers, I would say that this is a fast-paced and thrilling historical fiction that lacks an edge. I finished this book in a day, and it while I knew that there were secrets lurking at every corner, the writing makes it easier to follow.
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*Thank you to the publisher for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*