The Mother-in-Lawby Sally Hepworth Published 23 Apr 2019
|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
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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.
"The Mother-in-Law" Reviews
5 Simply Irresistible Stars.
Sally Hepworth is the Master of Domestic Suspense! This is a heart pounding mystery that I was racing to finish! It’s complexities and craziness had me wild-eyed right up until its shocking end. A favorite read for this the year!
Mother-in-Laws, as well all know, are not to be trifled with. Sometimes they’re scarier than others and sometimes you hit the jackpot. Perhaps it’s because of the competition factor, mothers not being able to let go of their sons, or wives simply not feeling like they measure up. Whatever it is, Lucy, (one of the main characters in Sally Hepworth’s “The Mother-in-Law”) knows exactly what I’m talking about. Here, she desperately tries to make a good impression on her Mother-in-Law, Diana, and she fails miserably. Silly, Lucy.. Mommie Dearest always knows best!
Diana however, isn’t so lucky after all. In a crazy turn of events, her body is found in what initially looks like death by suicide. Nothing about Diana’s death adds up and once the investigation begins, everyone in the family is scared stiff. The only motive the cops can find? Money. It always comes down to money, doesn’t it? If only things were that simple.
In “The Mother-In-Law” by Sally Hepworth, the twists and turns simply kept on coming and none of them are foreseen. Discount whatever you think you know, start from scratch, then do it all over again. The storyline is utterly wicked with moments that are simply jaw-dropping. The characters are multi-faceted, and their intentions are never straight-forward. Having read three of Ms. Hepworth’s prior novels, this was my favorite to date. The characters, the mystery and the storyline all came together in a way that fit perfectly: like a jigsaw puzzle, where, once the pieces interlock, I couldn’t help but sit back and smile, absolute perfection! A favorite of the year for 2018!
A buddy read with Kaceey! This was my favorite by far Kaceey!
Thank you to Jordan Hanley at St. Martin’s Press and to Sally Hepworth for a galley of this novel in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure.
Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram.
*Will be published on Amazon in April of 2019.
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...
I am a huge fan of this author. “The Mother’s Promise” was my first Sally Hepworth novel and is one of my favorite books.
The first line in the description of this novel grabbed my attention…
“A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…
I couldn’t wait to start reading!
The story begins with a police car pulling up to the home of Lucy and her husband, Ollie. Although the car doesn’t have its lights or siren on, she knows immediately that something isn’t right. “Police don’t arrive on your doorstep at dinnertime unless something is wrong.”
The police ask if they are relatives of Diana Goodwin and right away Lucy knows what they are going to say next…
The story then jumps back ten years to Lucy’s first visit to the Goodwin home. Ollie’s father is friendly and seems happy to meet Lucy as does Ollie’s sister, Nettie. But Ollie’s mother’s greeting is lukewarm. She’s not rude to Lucy, she is very polite…she just seems sort of cold and standoffish.
When Diana meets Lucy, her first thoughts are that Lucy was probably adored by everyone in her life and things probably came very easily to her.
“Take the pregnant refugee girls I deal with every day. They’ve been through unimaginable hardships, and here they are working hard, contributing and grateful”.
Lucy just wants Diana to like her. However, it seems the harder she tries the more strained their relationship becomes.
And now…Diana is dead.
As they learn more about Diana’s death and more things are brought to light, Lucy finds herself questioning everything...some things just aren’t adding up.
Did anyone really know Diana?
I thought this was an excellent story filled with engaging characters and an entertaining plot. We are given insight into the complicated relationships within the family. I liked how it alternated between Diana and Lucy’s point of view in both the past and present. It was interesting seeing how they each read or misread the same situations.
As I mentioned in a previous review of “A Mother’s Promise”, Sally Hepworth does a wonderful job of bringing her characters and their individual stories to life. She creates characters that readers can relate to and empathize with.
This was definitely a thought-provoking read. I’ve read other novels that deal with the relationships between men and women and their in-laws, but I found this to be quite a unique story. I was really surprised by a few things and extremely satisfied with how everything came together in the end.
In my opinion, this was another winning story from Sally Hepworth.
I'd like to thank St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel.
Mixed Feelings: One fascinating character coupled with one who was lacking turned this into just an ok read for me.
The Mother-in-Law is a family drama that tracks the tumultuous relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.
The book begins with the reader learning of the death of Diana, mother to Ollie and mother-in-law to Lucy. The narrative is divided into both Lucy and Diana's perspectives over the course of ten years.
Diana has been described as some as a hateful character. While she is not necessarily likable, I found her chapters to be fascinating! As cold as she was, her character was much more compelling than Lucy's, who fell rather flat for me. I wanted to know more about Diana--especially her past and her relationship with Tom. There are allusions to what shaped her, but I wanted the whole picture!
I am split between so many elements of this book: The characters, the narrative structure, the plot, etc. At times, I was completely enthralled, whereas during other times I was bored out of mind. I wanted more--I felt that the reader is only offered the surface of Diana and Lucy’s relationship. We dive in a little deeper towards the end, but it seems like in an effort to keep an element of surprise going throughout the novel, we lose what could have been a more complex reading of the relationship between these two women. I also thought that this book was trying to be too many things at once: Domestic drama, women’s fiction, psychological thriller all in one. Overall, while I loved some parts of The Mother-in-Law, it just didn’t work as a whole.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin's Press.
I try not to give out 5 stars too often but this one was special and deserving in terms of how much I enjoyed it and took away from it. I went into this thinking it would just be a typical mother in law story but there was so much more to it than that. It explored not just the mother and daughter in law relationship but also the dynamics between child/parent, husband/wife, and siblings. It was one of those reading experiences in which you seriously start reflecting on your own life and how you deal with family members.
Ever since they first met Lucy has had a polite, but distant relationship with her mother-in-law, Diana. It's like no matter what she does, Diana just won't warm up to her. The story jumps back and forth between Diana's perspective of things that happened in the past and the present day in which Lucy and her family have just learned Diana is dead. Her death will have lasting consequences for the entire family.
What I thought the author did brilliantly was the dual perspectives as it prevented Diana from being this one-dimensional character. There were so many layers to Diana and Lucy's relationship and it was interesting to see what they each thought about certain events. There were moments in the story that were so relatable, like when you come across the exact opposite of how you intended or when you regret leaving something unsaid. And while relationships were certainly an important part of the book, the mystery of what happened to Diana was intriguing as well. Overall, such a fantastic book and I can't wait to check out Sally Hepworth's other novels as she definitely has a knack for getting you to feel for her characters on an emotional level.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press for sending me an advance copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
Let me be clear that I think an author can choose to write her characters any way she wants, and I can choose to read it or not. But this was an issue book with characters vs a book with characters who have issues. I prefer the latter. If the author is going to write an issue(s) book then I’m going to comment on what I disliked about her stance on those issues. It is not the characters so much as the fact the author seems to be pushing an agenda.
We are told from the start that Diana, the mother-in-law, is dead of an apparent suicide but the police have their suspicions that it was murder, not suicide. From the blurb: “She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country.” But she was not well-loved by her family and for good reason. I don't require my characters to be likable, but if they are unlikable they'd better have other redeeming qualities, be sympathetic, or be funny. Diana was none of these.
The author tried to generate sympathy for Diana and, while I sympathized with what happened to her in the past, it was no excuse for her behavior in the present. She was cold and mean-spirited, even to her own children and grandchildren. She had money, but found money distasteful and judged everyone accordingly. Diana was just a vehicle for the issues the author wanted to highlight: money is bad. Being poor is good and will make you happy.
Money in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It offers people choices, and can be used for good. But not to Diana. She was a stingy miser who refused to help her children, even when they were clearly hurting and in need. Plus she was hypercritical of everything they did, even to the point of openly criticizing her future daughter-in-law in public for spending too much money on her wedding dress.
Instead of making sure her own children would not suffer from being unloved as a child, as she was, she repeated the pattern. But she's only cold and unloving to her family. She had no problem showing love and concern for strangers or giving them a helping hand. They got her attention and her money, while her own family did not. Little wonder that her own grandchildren were unmoved by her death.
I also felt the author trivialized severe depression, even to the point of intimating that assisted suicide is a valid option, instead of ensuring the person received the psychiatric help they needed (btw, this is NOT a spoiler, there are a lot of characters, twists and turns, and red herrings).
There were dramatic personality turnarounds in characters that were absurd, and behavior that made no sense. Other characters, like her husband, were undeveloped. I, for one, needed to know why he married Diana in the first place.
This was definitely easy reading and the first 75% was interesting enough for me to continue. But the last 25% was ridiculous.
2 stars because I finished the book and did want to know what happened to Diana. I shouldn't have bothered. Thank you to my friend Marialyce for reading this book with me and listening to me vent.
*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
When Jordan at St. Martin’s Publishing presented this book to me to read and review- I definitely ‘paused’’, thinking this could be an interesting topic, yet I definitely had reservations of concern. I didn’t want to create problems - add more to my already - sometimes challenging relationship with my mother in-law.
However - this book is so far off from anything in my life - I didn’t relate to any of it.
NOTES OF INTEREST.....about in-laws’ ......It’s a hot topic in the news today. Review of this book will follow at the end.
In the news recently- a psychologists stated the rise in couple’s coming to therapy for the sole purpose to deal with issues with their mother-in-law. Seems universally the most delicate relationships is when the son gets married. When a daughter gets married, they remain close with their mother regardless of how much the mother gets along with her husband.
The mother in-law and daughter in-law dynamic is the most fraught of in-law relationships. Son’s are made to feel guilty. Daughter-in-law‘s are made to feel not good enough - judged - and intruded on by lack of boundaries.
In laws can either help or hurt marriages.... being much more trickier and stressful for a daughter in-law than a son in-law.
But this book by Sally Hepworth, is not an advice manual.
But they ‘do’ have these type of books. A high rating such book is written by Susan Abel Lieberman Ph.D, called:
“The Mother-in Law’s Manual: Proven Strategies for Creating and Maintaining Healthy Relationships With Married Children”. There are excellent reviews on Amazon. The book is not only about being a better mother-in-law - NOT A SELF HELP MANUAL about ways to create a better relationship with their own adult children.
The reviews are inspiring. In most cases readers reported it was helpful, informative, and entertaining.
SO.....NOW THAT WE GOT THAT OUT OF THE WAY...THIS IS NOT THAT TYPE OF BOOK......let me share my thoughts about THIS BOOK. ( no spoilers)
Similar to “Big Little Lies”, by Liane Moriarty, this is not a mystery. We know the mother-in-law dies at the very beginning.
The setting also takes place in Milbourne, Australia....just as “Big Little Lies” did.
The title of this novel is very incidental IMO.. There are many side plots - many characters - ( very easy to remember all of them including every child) - with the mother-in-law’s story not standing out that much more than any other character - as everyone has a story. There are lies - secrets - judgements- resentments - told in present and past time alternating narration between Diana and Lucy.
Diana is the mother-in-law. Tom the father in-law.
Ollie is their son. Lucy is the new daughter in-law in the family. Ollie & Lucy have 3 young kids: Archie, Harriet, and Edie.
Nettie is Diane and Tom’s daughter - Patrick is their son- in-law. Nettie & Patrick have no kids.
A few more characters - (friends of Diana)...Cynthia and a few other women.
Diana runs a charity business - she brings maternity clothes and prams to pregnant women. One woman in particular she has gotten close with: Gheala and her two young children Aarash and his little sister Aziza. Gheala’s husband is from Kabul.
We meet some of Ollie’s friends too ( and business partner).
I promised no spoilers - ( easy to do). Truthfully I found the writing - the dialogue to be very ordinary. I was bored for at least the the first 60% of this book. It’s readable- but lacking creative conflicts between characters. The writing is very safe...very few juicy risks. My thinking is if you’re going to be bold enough to put a title on your book called “The Mother In Law”......( and bless the author’s heart for sharing that she has a wonderful relationship with her mother-in-Law at the start)- I think there needs to be some out-of-the-box outrageousness.
With so many stories about each character - I felt the book lacked a strong focus. There was wasted chatter of each child: from watching TV, eating snacks, tossing balls, climbing trees, playing with Tupperware lids, etc.
Add lots of talk about judging and evaluating the meals or housekeeping - and descriptions of basic clothing that people wear: leggings, a long cardigan, trainers, AND PAGES of grammatical typing errors on the Kindle download that I had —
guessing this will get corrected -domestic family life wasn’t particularly clever- or complicated or heartwarming or hilarious or earth shattering exciting.
It was ‘readable’.
3 Stars. Read other reviews. Its woman’s fiction. Sally Hepworth fans who enjoy easy reading quick page turning books should love this novel. I needed something meatier to wrap my brain around.
Thank You Netgalley, St. Martin’s Fiction, and Sally Hepworth