Book Title and Author: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
Publication Date and Publisher: April 23, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Mystery, Domestic Drama, Suspense
Pages: 352 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: January 6, 2019 (e-arc)
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.
We’ve all heard and read the stories about the notorious, mean and, ruthless mother-in-law, and I thought going into Sally Hepworth’s newest book that this was going to be another story about that kind of mother-in-law, come on, you know the one! Trust me, though, you’ve never met a mother-in-law like Diana, the namesake in Hepworth’s intensely complex book The Mother-in-Law…
Diana has been found dead, and it initially looks like she’s committed suicide since there is a note found nearby yet an autopsy soon points to homicide leaving every member of the family suspect as they all seem to have some motive in wanting her dead.
Hepworth’s writing is smooth, intoxicating, and mesmerizing as she plays into the twisted emotions surrounding Diana’s death, the subsequent homicide investigation, and the build-up to the fateful day of Diana’s death. The story is told through shifting POVs and time periods both past and present by Diana and Lucy, the daughter-in-law.
When Lucy married Ollie, she hoped to find in Diana a loving, caring mother-in-law since her own mother was dead but instead, she found a woman who was cold, aloof, practical, and emotionally distant not only to Lucy but also to her son Ollie, her daughter, Nellie, and her son-in-law, Patrick.
Yet, Diana has no problems being loving and caring towards pregnant refugees who need money, jobs, and places to live, yet she won’t raise a hand or give any money to help her own children when they need it. Instead, her philosophy, at total odds from her husband Tom, is that they have to stand for themselves no matter what the situation or the repercussion.
Diana is undoubtedly the center of this family with her controlling ways although she may not have realized it because as you get deeper into the chapters and learn more about Diana, you discover all isn’t as it seems. Is she cold and aloof? Yes. Is she emotionally distant? Very. But there’s more to her than meets the eye, and her behavior and attitudes have reasons, which is all slowly and skillfully revealed throughout the book.
Still, I had to decide if I liked Diana or if I didn’t while reading, and I’m still unsure of that. There were parts of her that I abhorred and parts that I understood, which I think can be said about so many book characters, and she’s certainly not the only unlikeable/likable character in this novel. However, I thought she was by far the most complex even though Hepworth did an absolutely brilliant job bringing each of her characters to life.
The Mother-in-Law is a compelling and powerful domestic mystery that examines the dynamics between not only daughters-in-law and their mothers-in-law, but husband and wives, sisters and brothers, mothers and daughters, as well as family relationships as a whole. It is a book with some moments that will leave you picking your jaw up off the floor because they’re so unexpected and twisted with suspense–that ending! I didn’t see it coming at all!
I love Hepworth’s books because she really is a brilliant storyteller who writes superb characterizations and well-executed plots. I highly recommend you get a copy of The Mother-in-Law as soon as you can; it comes out on April 23, 2019!!
**Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**