The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
Expected Publication Date : April 23rd 2019
Publisher : St. Martin’s Press
Read Date : March 16th 2019
Genre : Suspense / Thriller / Domestic noir
Pages : 352
Stars : ★★★★★
Someone once told me that you have two families in your life – the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.
From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.
But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.
That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…
From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.
‘How is your relationship with your mother-in-law?’
if anyone from my family reading this let me be clear, Lucy said that. 😉
The Mother-In-Law was character driven suspenseful domestic noir, a twisted family drama. It was story about dysfunctional family, money greed, obsession, loss, life struggle, and a complicated mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship.
Ollie– Lucy’s husband, Diana’s son. He was a good son and husband. I could easily see my husband in him. Always taking his mother’s side, arguing with Lucy for her overreaction when actually it was his mother’s fault… and so on. But he messed things so much at some point. I understood it was tough for him to provide for his family but I didn’t like how he expected inheritance and money from family.
Nettie– The sister-in-law, Diana’s daughter. She was nice character at the beginning, and a great aunt but her baby obsession ruined everything and every relationship. I could feel her sadness and sorrow, how much she might have suffered but only if she could let it be like Patrick.
Patrick– Nettie’s husband. He didn’t care for his in-laws, nor did I for him! But I liked his role in the book and he played it perfectly.
Tom– The father-in-law, Diana’s husband. He was polar opposite of Diana. Like Diana said, nothing went wrong when it comes to father-in-law. He was perfect person, pillar of the family who kept this family together. I loved him for his support to Diana when she needed most and how he raised his and Diana’s children.
Lucy– the daughter-in-law. She was really nice. She supported her husband, kids, in-laws in all conditions. I could relate to Lucy and I could understand her actions and reactions without efforts. From the very beginning we could see why she was so desperate to impress Diana and wished to gain her love and respect. Yup, those early chapters raised devil horns on Diana’s head easily. It was natural to side with her as Diana didn’t try to mend their relationship. I also agreed with Lucy’s thought about Diana’s approach towards Ollie and Nettie’s problems. What I loved most about Lucy was, after all that happened, she never stopped caring and oddly she liked Diana’s some of characteristics when she really give it a thought.
Diana– The Mother-in-law. She was perfect wife, perfect employer, best with refugee women and best grandmother but she couldn’t be the best mother and mother-in-law. She was woman of few words, no-nonsense, noninterfering type. She was good human and I could feel for her when I read her past.
When it came to Lucy, I think Diana was judgmental and underestimated her. That’s where all went wrong between them. I feel things would have different if she could be the way she was with Ghezela. But later in the book I could see why she couldn’t and I really loved her and Tom at that moment. I could see how their little family was all they lived for.
When money and children came into one picture, her only motto was ‘help yourself’ which was both good and horrible for her family and ultimately made them hate her. Honestly how could she fail to see what it was doing to her children! And using all those money for refugee women but not helping her own kids, I understood that she saw her kids more capable but if I had that much money I would have helped Ollie and Nettie and even have seen what was coming earlier. Anyway it was her story not mine.
And the way she developed near the end of the book was fabulous. But alas, it was too late and I so wished I could change what happened to her.
Writing was just awesome. It was so interesting and gripping that I wish to read all books by this author. Book had perfect beginning. It started with police arriving at door step of Lucy sharing the bad news about Diana which takes reader 10 years back to the beginning of Lucy and Dian’s rocky relationship and how it developed over the time.
Book was told in dual narrative by Diana and Lucy. Diana’s POV represented her full life story starting from a decade ago telling about her relationship with Lucy as well as with all family members. It also depicted her perspective towards life, morals and way of upbringing. Lucy’s POV was both in past, which painted a clear picture of Goodwin family, and present that told where the investigation was going, whether it was suicide or murder, and who might be responsible for Diana’s death.
Characters made this book so intriguing and addictive. They all were flawed. They all had problems, problems they could solve if they have open to each other, shared feelings, and have dealt it wisely. All family members were not really close with each other and they all were hiding something especially after Diana’s death. What was they hiding? Did someone from family pushed Diana to take her life or had a reason to harm her? if so, what was the motive? Suspense was strong. As I read more, I suspected all family member for Diana’s death and it wasn’t revealed until last few chapters.
There were so many things in the Book that stopped me to brood over while reading– Diana’s life before marriage, how it made her what she was now, her resolve to administer the same learning in her kid’s life and I could see what she was doing wrong; how Lucy yearned for love of mother, her many attempts to gain Diana’s love; Nettie’s baby obsession; Ollie’s carelessness and weakness and yet being a good husband and son; Ollie, Nettie and Patrick’s greed.
Diana and Lucy’s relationship was heart of the book. It was complicated, twisted, tense, but both tried to fit at best. There were so many ‘ifs’ came in my mind while reading about them and their relationship with other member of the family. ‘Only if’ Diana has said that or did that. ‘only if’ Lucy has been herself without trying so hard to impress, ‘only if’ they talked to each other freely, and so on.
I was so surprised and awed by brilliance of climax and the end. I loved last chapter and words from Diana’s letter. Story was tragic but I’m satisfied with book. It turned out much better than I expected.
Overall, it was thought provoking, suspenseful, complex, complicated and twisted family drama with addictive writing and plot. I highly recommend this book.
Author: Sally Hepworth
Purchase link : Publisher’s site
*** Many thanks to publisher for providing e-ARC via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. ***
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