The Mother-in-Law. Not what I was expecting, but even better than I imagined.

The Mother-in-Law

By Sally Hepworth

Rating: 5/5 Stairs

img_4401Going into this book, I thought it would be a domestic-noir-type thriller. But I was pleasantly surprised that it isn’t — it’s even better. Let me lay it out for you. A quick book summary of sorts. A summary of discovery, if you will.

  • Chapter one: At the beginning of the novel, we learn (from Lucy’s point-of-view) that Lucy’s mother-in-law Diana has died, apparently by suicide. Or was it murder? (You can see why I thought it was a thriller, right?)
  • Chapter two: Still Lucy’s point-of-view, but now we move to 10 years ago, when Lucy first meets Diana. Lucy and Ollie are dating, and she is so excited to meet his mother. She lost her mother when she was 13 years old, and cannot wait to one day have a wonderful mother-in-law to bond and share with. By the end of the chapter, we realize Diana is not what Lucy had in mind. At all. Lucy remains hopeful, but as the reader, we all know that Diana is going to be a mother-in-law from hell.
  • Chapter three: Back to the present with Lucy. OK, so this is going to tell Lucy’s story, bouncing from the past to the present to paint the picture up through Diana’s death.  Slow build up with Lucy of the past and Lucy of the present. You know there are going to be some twists and turns in this tale. I love it.
  • Chapter four: Ms. Hepworth is BRILLIANT. This chapter turns to Diana’s voice, in the past (obviously, she’s dead in the present). The day after meeting Lucy, we get to find out about the same evening from Diana’s point-of-view. Diana’s! And really she is not the cold mother-in-law that we all expected. She’s human.

And from here on out, I realized that no – this is not a thriller.

Sure, there is that little snag about the mystery of who killed Diana. And there are plenty of twists and turns. But I got caught up in the tale of the relationship between these two women — how it began, the missteps, mistakes, and misunderstandings that grew and piled on top of one another throughout the years, the respect they sometimes found for each other, and ultimately where their relationship ended up before that fateful day of Diana’s death. We also explore the relationship of these two women and the roles they take on with their own spouses and children.

I love the way Ms. Hepworth wrote The Mother-in-Law. It makes you remember that there are two sides to every story. The suspense of what happened to Diana did build as the chapters flew by, but truly these two women and their story were at the heart of everything wonderful about this book. I highly, highly recommend it.

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