The Mother-in-Lawby Published 10 Jul 2019
|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
A twisty, compelling novel about one woman's complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder...
From the moment Lucy met her husband's mother, Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana was exquisitely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.
That was five years ago.
Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.
But the autopsy finds no cancer.
The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation.
Who could possibly want Diana dead?
Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?
With Lucy's secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.
"The Mother-in-Law" Reviews
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.
Intensely Readable and Immensely Dishy!
What is it about in-laws that makes them so abhorred? Is it their constant meddling? Perhaps their subtle, but persistent disapproval of every little thing. For Lucy, she just wants her Mother-in-law, Diana, to love her. Accept her. But that is never going to happen. At least not as long as Diana walks the earth . . .
For originality, this one deserves five stars. In addition, this was Hepworth's first attempt at the thriller genre, and I think she nailed it. I've always loved her work, but I was a little apprehensive about whether or not she could pull off a suspense novel. I'm here to tell you... she rocked it!
I don't want to share too much about the plot or characters, because I feel you should know as little as possible going into this one. There is a huge twist, that was very well-executed. Not only was this a supreme psychological thriller, but it was a meditation on the dysfunction between families. I always love me some good drama!
There is a storm brewing in the East coast and in my opinion, you should put on something cozy, and get this book. It's a delight to behold!
Thank you to St. Martins press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review
I've read a number of thrillers lately, ranging from the quiet character drama of Miracle Creek and Disappearing Earth, to Coben's high-octane Run Away. And this book just sits blandly somewhere between the two.
I had to think about my rating here. I almost upped it to 3 stars because it’s not that BAD. But then it’s not much of anything really. I found it a very tame lukewarm domestic mystery/thriller that lacks either the urgency or depth of characterization needed to make it compelling.
The blurb and the beginning of the book set it up as if we're supposed to believe there's some drama between Lucy and her mother-in-law, Diana, and that the former may have possibly murdered the latter. I think the conflict between Lucy and Diana was supposed to drive the narrative, but it was almost annoying how big of a deal was made out of absolutely nothing. Lucy overhears a conversation between her husband and his mother in which Diana says she (Lucy) is "fine". OH NO. It just... is this really supposed to be a nightmare MIL scenario? Lucy should watch Jane Fonda in Monster-in-Law.
The author would also make a big deal out of innocuous moments like Diana telling Lucy she wanted the necklace back that she lent her for her “something borrowed” during the wedding. It’s so not a threatening or dramatic moment. Many moments seem played up unrealistically. Like the police coming in with their suspicions because - dramatic breath - they could only find one of Diana's sofa cushions.
It's all just very unexciting. And I could totally get behind a slow book that is more about character interactions and relationships than it is about action, but this is not quite that either. Lucy is dull and one-dimensional and Diana, though slightly more interesting, is almost robotic in her adherence to a morality that is very basic, unexplored, and comes from a place of extreme privilege.
Also, the pool of suspects is tiny, so I predicted the conclusion in the first few chapters.
CW: [spoilers removed].
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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.
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.
* Edited on 4/23/19 This was my first Sally Hepworth novel and after reading this advance copy, I was excited to check out her other books. I am now caught up and while I liked her other novels, this one remains my favorite.