The Mother-in-Law: A Novel <— I absolutely loved this one, but it wasn’t quite “the obviousness” of what I was expecting. I thought it would be a domestic thriller about either an evil mother-in-law (yay!!) or maybe it would be the daughter-in-law that was the bad guy (oooooh… an unreliable narrator, maybe?)
And maybe it’s exactly that. Or maybe not… 🤷♀️ 😉 See? I’m an unreliable book blogger, now. 😂
There it was, randomly appearing on my Amazon feed, on super-sale, and I dunno… between skimming incredible editorial reviews, and the dark aura of the cover and tagline, I just knew it had to be mine. I was excited, anticipating chills, but what I experienced, surprisingly… was… warmth.
Maryse: I’m reading one that I’m loving that was a random “sale” choice for me, and it’s the editorial reviews that got me. It’s called “The Mother-In-Law” and I’m loving it!!!!
It doesn’t *seem* like a psych-thriller to me, though I thought it would be, at first. Still, loving the past and present getting to know the two main characters as they get to know each other.
Tasha J: Oh, I might like that one, it sounds good! I have another of hers that I’ve been dragging my feet on (only bc I have so many books), The Soulmate.
Nay: FLT: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth (audio book) “I’m folding laundry at my kitchen table when the police car pulls up.”
I’m really enjoying this a lot. It’s not a thriller like I thought it would be, and at 70%, it’s mainly been a multiple character study (but a very interesting one, IMO) wrapped around a bit of a mystery. From what I’ve heard, the mystery part really comes in at the end, and I’m already guessing!
EXACTLY NAY!!!! 100% what you said.
So what’s it about?
Essentially, it starts off with the surprising death of the main character’s mother-in-law. Looking like a suicide at first, the police investigate further and find the possibility of something else…
It’s the classic, unassuming behavior of someone about to get bad news. I actually feel like I am watching us all on a TV show—the handsome clueless dad, the cute toddler. The regular suburban family who are about to have their lives turned inside out … ruined forever.
And with that beginning, we flow in and out, over the years, the entirety of her marriage from past to present day. The hopefulness,
I didn’t have a mother anymore. But one day, perhaps, I’d have a mother-in-law.
to the realizations.
I feel as though I’ve been sucker punched. Of all the worries I’d had—that she wasn’t the mother-in-law I’d wanted, that she didn’t live up to my expectations—I hadn’t, narcissistically as it turns out, considered that she wouldn’t like me.
Getting to know the various members of the family (her father-in-law, her sister-in-law and her own husband), the intricacies and family dynamics.
Marrying into a wealthy family, she recognizes her father-in-law as the jovial, always happy, always generous one. Supportive of his children and their own families, and their endeavors. A man with no real pretenses, though he loves the finer things in life, and definitely uses his wealth for happiness (and if he can help it, the happiness of his children).
With the help of his loving wife (though she is stern and much more reserved), together, they’ve always had a close knit, happy household, and seem to complete each other. But while her husband is quick to dole out financial help, she, on the other hand, is not one to automatically help those that can help themselves.
If you ask me, everyone is a little too interested in their children’s happiness. Ask anyone what they wish for their kids and they’ll all say they want them to be happy. Happy! Not empathetic contributing members of society. Not humble, wise and tolerant. Not strong in the face of adversity or grateful in the face of misfortune. I, on the other hand, have always wanted hardship for my kids. Real, honest hardship. Challenges big enough to make them empathetic and wise. 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.
What more could you want for your kids?
And there is the backdrop to our story. A newcomer to the family, hoping to bond with her new mother-figure (since a relationship with her own mother is non-existent),
I allow myself to hope that once we’ve spent some more time together, she’ll let me into this inner sanctum of hers. Maybe one day I’ll even start helping her with her charity? Diana might not be the easiest nut to crack, but I’ll get there. Before long, we’re sure to be the best of friends.
and realizing the bond will take some work, if one is ever even to exist. Back and forth, past to present, the relationship between the two main characters (and between all of the characters) takes shape, forms a narrative, and the mystery of her mother-in-law’s death forms with it.
He knows that at some point a huge amount of money will be coming our way, more money than we could possibly know how to spend.
And to access it, all we need to do is wait for someone to die.
And while, yes, it was definitely a clash of wills at times between these two main characters,
It occurs to me that only a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law can have an all-out war without anyone so much as raising their voice. The funny thing is, if any of the menfolk were here, they wouldn’t have a clue that anything other than a pleasant conversation was going on.
there was a subtle kinship, and understanding, between them. Many misunderstood and hurt feelings, but from each POV, a different perspective, and worry. I loved my budding attachment to both, and was hoping for a strong bond between them, despite the mystery of the unexpected death that loomed over the entire story.
Their faces are etched with hurt and bewilderment. But there’s something else in their faces too, something ugly. So ugly, in fact, that I have to swivel my chair back again.
And with a certain reveal, your stomach will fall down to your feet. And with another reveal, maybe even twice.
Okay I didn’t make it sound at all exciting, but trust me, it’s a page-turner. Exquisitely written, and totally relatable, you see yourself right there with each one of them, and will enjoy each moment of it (even the tumultuous moments! Especially those. 😉 )
And what a mystery it was. Well worth the reveal, and it DID keep me guessing, while at the same time, building a deep affection for this family. Experiencing the joys, and sadness of life, with them, throughout.
4.5 STARS!! <— It kept me reading, guessing and feeling! I became attached to some of the characters, while having misgivings about others. Was I right? Was I wrong? Either way, I felt each one, and didn’t want to put it down!