The Mother-in-Law

The Mother-in-Law

by Sally Hepworth

Hardcover

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Overview

"Deliciously entertaining!" —People Magazine's "People Pick"

Entertainment Weekly's "MUST List"

O Magazine’s "15 Best Beach Books of the Year So Far"

Bustle "Best Book of April"

Refinery29 "Best Book of April"

Cosmopolitan "Best Book of April"

Woman's Day's "27 Fiction Books of 2019 to Add to Your Reading List ASAP"

BookBub's "Biggest Books of April"

PopSugar's "30 Must-Read Books of 2019"

A twisty, compelling new novel about one woman's complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in death...

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, she knew she wasn’t the wife Diana had envisioned for her perfect son. Exquisitely polite, friendly, and always generous, Diana nonetheless kept Lucy at arm’s length despite her desperate attempts to win her over. And as a pillar in the community, an advocate for female refugees, and a woman happily married for decades, no one had a bad word to say about Diana…except Lucy.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana is dead, a suicide note found near her body claiming that she longer wanted to live because of the cancer wreaking havoc inside her body.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

It does find traces of poison, and evidence of suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her children, and their spouses? And what does it mean that Lucy isn’t exactly sad she’s gone?

Fractured relationships and deep family secrets grow more compelling with every page in this twisty, captivating new novel from Sally Hepworth.

Praise for Sally Hepworth:

“With jaw-dropping discoveries, and realistic consequences, this novel is not to be missed. Perfect for lovers of Big Little Lies.” —Library Journal, starred review

"Hepworth deftly keeps the reader turning pages and looking for clues, all the while building multilayered characters and carefully doling out bits of their motivations." —Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250120922
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/23/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 891
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

SALLY HEPWORTH is a human resource professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and she now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and three young children. She is the author of several novels, including The Family Next Door and The Mother's Promise.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Lucy

I am folding laundry at my kitchen table when the police car pulls up. There's no fanfare — no sirens or flashing lights — yet that little niggle starts in the pit of my stomach, Mother Nature's warning that all is not well. It's getting dark out, early evening, and the neighbors' porch lights are starting to come on. It's dinnertime. Police don't arrive on your doorstep at dinnertime unless something is wrong.

I glance through the archway to the living room where my slothful children are stretched across different pieces of furniture, angled toward their respective devices. Alive. Unharmed. In good health apart from, perhaps, a mild screen addiction. Seven-year-old Archie is watching a family play Wii games on the big iPad; four-year-old Harriet is watching little girls in America unwrap toys on the little iPad. Even two-year-old Edie is staring, slack-jawed, at the television. I feel some measure of comfort that my family is all under this roof. At least most of them are. Dad, I think suddenly. Oh no, please not Dad.

I look back at the police car. The headlights illuminate a light mist of rain.

At least it's not the children, a guilty little voice in my head whispers. At least it isn't Ollie. Ollie is on the back deck, grilling burgers. Safe. He came home from work early today, not feeling well apparently, though he doesn't seem particularly unwell. In any case, he's alive and I'm wholeheartedly grateful for that.

The rain has picked up a little now, turning the mist into distinct, precise raindrops. The police kill the engine, but don't get out right away. I ball up a pair of Ollie's socks and place them on top of his pile and then reach for another pair. I should stand up, go to the door, but my hands continue to fold on autopilot, as if by continuing to act normally the police car will cease to exist and all will be right in the world again. But it doesn't work. Instead, a uniformed policeman emerges from the driver's seat.

"Muuuuum!" Harriet calls. "Edie is watching the TV!"

Two weeks ago, a prominent news journalist had spoken out publicly about her "revulsion" that children under the age of three were exposed to TV, actually going so far as to call it "child abuse." Like most Australian mothers, I'd been incensed about this and followed with the predictable diatribe of, "What would she know? She probably has a team of nannies and hasn't looked after her children for a day in her life!" before swiftly instating the "no screens for Edie rule" which lasted until twenty minutes ago when I was on the phone with the energy company, and Edie decided to try the old "Mum, muuuum, MUUUUUM ..." trick until I relented, popping on an episode of Play School and retreating to the bedroom to finish my phone call.

"It's all right, Harriet," I say, my eyes still on the window.

Harriet's cross little face appears in front of me, her dark brown hair and thick fringe swishing around her face like a mop. "But you SAID ..."

"Never mind what I said. A few minutes won't hurt."

The cop looks to be midtwenties, thirty at a push. His police hat is in his hand but he wedges it under one arm to tug at the front of his too-tight trousers. A short, rotund policewoman of a similar age gets out of the passenger side, her hat firmly on her head. They come around the car and start up the path side by side. They are definitely coming to our place. Nettie, I think suddenly. It's about Nettie.

It's possible. Ollie's sister has certainly had her share of health issues lately. Or maybe it's Patrick? Or is it something else entirely?

The fact is, part of me knows it's not Nettie or Patrick, or Dad. It's funny sometimes what you just know.

"Burgers are up."

The fly screen door scrapes open and Ollie appears at the back door holding a plate of meat. The girls flock to him and he snaps his "crocodile tongs" while they jump up and down, squealing loudly enough to nearly drown out the knock at the door.

Nearly.

"Was that the door?" Ollie raises an eyebrow, curious rather than concerned. In fact, he looks animated. An unexpected guest on a weeknight! Who could it be?

Ollie is the social one of the two of us, the one that volunteers on the Parents and Friends' committee at the kids' school because "it's a good way to meet people," who hangs over the back fence to say hi to the neighbors if he hears them talking in the garden, who approaches people who look vaguely familiar and tries to figure out if they know each other. A people person. To Ollie, an unexpected knock on the door during the week signals excitement rather than doom.

But, of course, he hasn't seen the cop car.

Edie tears down the corridor. "I get it, I get it."

"Hold on a minute, Edie-bug," Ollie says, looking for somewhere to put down the tray of burgers. He isn't fast enough though because by the time he finds some counter space, Edie has already tossed open the door.

"Poleeth!" she says, awed.

This, of course, is the part where I should run after her, intercept the police at the door and apologize, but my feet are concreted to the floor. Luckily, Ollie is already jogging up behind Edie, ruffling her hair playfully.

"G'day," he says to the cops. He glances over his shoulder back into the house, his mind caught up in the action of a few seconds ago, perhaps wondering if he remembered to turn off the gas canister or checking that he'd placed the burger plate securely on the counter. 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.

"What can I do for you?" Ollie says finally, turning his attention back to the cops.

"I'm Sr. Constable Arthur," I hear a woman say, though I can't see her from my vantage point, "and this is Constable Perkins. Are you Oliver Goodwin?"

"I am." Ollie smiles down at Edie, even throws her a wink. It's enough to convince me that I'm being overly dramatic. Even if there's bad news, it may not be that bad. It may not even be our bad news. Perhaps one of the neighbors was burgled? Police always canvased the area after something like that, didn't they?

Suddenly I look forward to that moment in a few minutes' time when I know that everything's fine. I think about how Ollie and I will laugh about how paranoid I was. You won't believe what I thought, I'll say to him, and he'll roll his eyes and smile. Always worrying, he'll say. How do you ever get anything done with all that worrying?

But when I edge forward a few paces, I see that my worrying isn't unnecessary. I see it in the somberness of the policeman's expression, in the downward turn of the corners of his mouth.

The policewoman glances at Edie, then back at Ollie. "Is there somewhere we can talk ... privately?"

The first traces of uncertainty appear on Ollie's face. His shoulders stiffen and he stands a little bit taller. Perhaps unconsciously, he pushes Edie back from the door, behind him, shielding her from something.

"Edie-bug, would you like me to put on The Wiggles?" I say, stepping forward finally.

Edie shakes her head resolutely, her gaze not shifting from the police. Her soft round face is alight with interest; her chunky, wobbly legs are planted with improbable firmness.

"Come on, honey," I try again, sweeping a hand over her pale gold hair. "How about an ice cream?"

This is more of a dilemma for Edie. She glances at me, watching for a long moment, assessing whether I can be trusted. Finally I shout for Archie to get out the Paddle Pops and she scampers off down the hallway.

"Come in," Ollie says to the police, and they do, sending me a quick, polite smile. A sorry smile. A smile that pierces my heart, unpicks me a little. It's not the neighbors, that smile says. This bad news is yours.

There aren't a lot of private communal areas in our house so Ollie guides the police to the dining room and pulls out a couple of chairs. I follow, pushing my newly folded laundry into a basket. The piles collapse into each other like tumbling buildings. The police sit on the chairs, Ollie balances on the arm of the sofa, and I remain sharply upright, stiff. Bracing.

"Firstly I need to confirm that you are relatives of Diana Goodwin —"

"Yes," Ollie says, "she's my mother."

"Then I'm very sorry to inform you," the policewoman starts, and I close my eyes because I already know what she is going to say.

My mother-in-law is dead.

CHAPTER 2

Lucy

Ten years ago ...

Someone once told me that you have two families in your life — the one you are born into and the one you choose. But that's not entirely true, is it? Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don't, for instance, choose your children. You don't choose your brothers- or sisters-in-law, you don't choose your partner's spinster aunt with the drinking problem or cousin with the revolving door of girlfriends who don't speak English. More importantly, you don't choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

"Hello?" Ollie calls. "Anybody home?"

I stand in the yawning foyer of the Goodwins' home and pan around at the marble extending out in every direction. A winding staircase sweeps from the basement up to the first floor beneath a magnificent crystal chandelier. I feel like I've stepped into the pages of a Hello! magazine spread, the ones with the ridiculous photos of celebrities sprawling on ornate furniture, and on grassy knolls in riding boots with golden retrievers at their feet. I've always pictured that this is what the inside of Buckingham Palace must look like, or if not Buckingham, at least one of the smaller palaces — St. James's or Clarence House.

I try to catch Ollie's eye, to ... what? Admonish him? Cheer? Quite frankly I'm not sure but it's moot since he's already charging into the house, announcing our arrival. To say I'm unprepared for this is the most glorious of understatements. When Ollie had suggested I come to his parents' house for dinner, I'd been picturing lasagna and salad in a quaint, blond-brick bungalow, the kind of home I'd grown up in. I'd pictured an adoring mother clasping a photo album of sepia-colored baby photos and a brusquely proud but socially awkward father, clasping a can of beer and a cautious smile. Instead, artwork and sculptures were uplit and gleaming, and the parents, socially awkward or otherwise, are nowhere to be seen.

"Ollie!" I catch Ollie's elbow and am about to whisper furiously when a plump ruddy-faced man rushes through a large arched doorway at the back of the house, clutching a glass of red wine.

"Dad!" Ollie cries. "There you are!"

"Well, well. Look who the cat dragged in."

Tom Goodwin is the very opposite of his tall, dark-haired son. Short, overweight and unstylish, his red-checked shirt is tucked into chinos that are belted below his substantial paunch. He throws his arms around his son, and Ollie thumps his old man on the back.

"You must be Lucy," Tom says, after releasing Ollie. He takes my hand and pumps it heartily, letting out a low whistle. "My word. Well done, son."

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Goodwin." I smile.

"Tom! Call me Tom." He smiles at me like he's won the Easter raffle, then he appears to remember himself. "Diana! Diana, where are you? They're here!"

After a moment or two Ollie's mother emerges from the back of the house. She's wearing a white shirt and navy slacks and brushing nonexistent crumbs from the front of her shirt. I suddenly wonder about my outfit choice, a full-skirted 1950s red and white polka-dot dress that had belonged to my mother. I thought it would be charming but now it just seems outlandish and stupid, especially given Ollie's mum's plain and demure attire.

"I'm sorry," she says, from several paces away. "I didn't hear the bell."

"This is Lucy," Tom says.

Diana extends her hand. As I reach for it, I notice that she is almost a full head taller than her husband, despite her flat shoes, and she is thin as a street post, apart from a slight middle-aged thickening at the waist. She has silver hair cut into an elegant, chin-length bob, a straight Roman nose, and unlike Tom, bears a strong resemblance to her son.

I also notice that her handshake is cold.

"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Goodwin," I say, dropping her hand to offer the bunch of flowers I'm carrying. I'd insisted on stopping at the florist on the way, even though Ollie had said, "Flowers aren't really her thing."

"Flowers are every woman's thing," I'd replied with a roll of my eyes. But as I take in her lack of jewelry, her unpainted nails and sensible shoes, I start to get the feeling that I'm wrong.

"Hello, Mum," Ollie says, pulling his mother in a bear hug, which she accepts, if not quite embraces. I know, from many conversations with Ollie, that he adores his mother. He practically bursts with pride as he talks about the charity she runs single-handedly for refugees in Australia, many of them pregnant or with small children. Of course she would think flowers were trivial, I realize suddenly. I'm an idiot. Perhaps I should have brought baby clothes, or maternity supplies?

"All right, Ollie," she says after a moment or two, when he doesn't let her go. She pulls herself upright. "I haven't even had a chance to say hello properly to Lucy!"

"Why don't we head to the lounge for some drinks and we can all get to know each other better," Tom says, and we all turn toward the back of the house. That's when I notice a face peeking around the corner.

"Nettie!" Ollie cries.

If there is a lack of resemblance between Ollie and Tom, there is no doubt Antoinette is Tom's daughter. She has his ruddy cheeks and stockiness, while at the same time being endearingly pretty. Stylish too, in a grey woolen dress and black suede boots. According to Ollie, his younger sister is married, childless and some sort of executive at a marketing company who is often asked to speak at conferences about women and the glass ceiling. At thirty-two years old, only two years older than me, I'd found this impressive and a little intimidating, but it is all swept under the rug when she greets me with an enormous bear hug. The Goodwins, it appears, are huggers.

All of them, perhaps, except Diana.

"I've heard so much about you," Nettie says. She links her arm with mine and I am engulfed in a cloud of expensive-smelling perfume. "Come and meet my husband, Patrick."

Nettie drags me through an arched doorway, past what looks like an elevator — an elevator! As we walk we pass framed artwork and floral arrangements, and photos of family holidays on the ski slopes and at the beach. There is one photo of Tom, Diana, Nettie and Ollie on camels in the desert with a pyramid in the background, all of them holding hands and raising their hands skyward.

Growing up, I used to go to the beach town of Portarlington for holidays, less than an hour's drive from my house.

We stop in a room that is roughly the size of my apartment, filled with sofas and armchairs, huge, expensive-looking rugs and heavy wooden side tables. A gigantic man rises from an armchair.

"Patrick," he says. His handshake is clammy but he looks apologetic so I pretend not to notice.

"Lucy. Nice to meet you."

I'm not sure what I expected for Nettie — perhaps someone small, sharp, eager to please, like her. At six feet three inches, I thought Ollie was tall, but Patrick is positively mountain-like — six seven at least. Apart from his height, he reminds me a little of Tom, in his plaid shirt and chinos, his round face and eager smile. He has a knitted sweater around his shoulders, preppy-style.

With all greetings out of the way, Ollie, Tom and Patrick sink into the large couch and Diana and Nettie wander off toward a drinks table. I hesitate a moment, then fall into step beside the women.

"You sit down, Lucy," Diana directs me.

"Oh, I'm happy to help —"

But Diana raises her hand like a stop sign. "Please," she says. "Just sit."

Diana is obviously trying to be polite, but I can't help but feel a little rejected. She isn't to know, of course, that I'd fantasized about bumping elbows with her in the kitchen, perhaps even facing a little salad crisis together that I could overcome by whipping up a makeshift dressing (a salad crisis was about all my culinary capabilities could stretch to). She isn't to know that I'd imagined nestling up to her as she took me through photo albums, family trees and long-winded stories that Ollie would groan about. She doesn't know I'd planned to spend the entire evening by her side, and by the time we went home, she'd be as enamored with me as I'd be with her.

Instead, I sat.

"So, you and Ollie work together?" Tom asks me, as I plant myself next to Ollie on the sofa.

"We do," I say. "Have done for three years."

"Three years?" Tom feigns shock. "Took your time, didn't you, mate?"

"It was a slow burn," Ollie says.

Ollie had been the classic, solid guy from work. The one always available to listen to my most terrible dating stories and offer a sympathetic shoulder. Ollie, unlike the powerful, take-charge assholes that I tended to date, was cheerful, unassuming and a consistently good guy. Most importantly, he adored me. It had taken me a while to realize it, but being adored was much nicer than being messed around by charismatic bastards.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Mother-in-Law"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Sally Hepworth.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Dedication,
Acknowledgments,
Chapter 1: Lucy,
Chapter 2: Lucy,
Chapter 3: Lucy,
Chapter 4: Diana,
Chapter 5: Lucy,
Chapter 6: Lucy,
Chapter 7: Lucy,
Chapter 8: Diana,
Chapter 9: Lucy,
Chapter 10: Diana,
Chapter 11: Lucy,
Chapter 12: Lucy,
Chapter 13: Diana,
Chapter 14: Lucy,
Chapter 15: Diana,
Chapter 16: Lucy,
Chapter 17: Lucy,
Chapter 18: Diana,
Chapter 19: Lucy,
Chapter 20: Lucy,
Chapter 21: Diana,
Chapter 22: Lucy,
Chapter 23: Lucy,
Chapter 24: Lucy,
Chapter 25: Lucy,
Chapter 26: Lucy,
Chapter 27: Lucy,
Chapter 28: Lucy,
Chapter 29: Diana,
Chapter 30: Diana,
Chapter 31: Lucy,
Chapter 32: Lucy,
Chapter 33: Lucy,
Chapter 34: Diana,
Chapter 35: Lucy,
Chapter 36: Diana,
Chapter 37: Lucy,
Chapter 38: Lucy,
Chapter 39: Lucy,
Chapter 40: Lucy,
Chapter 41: Lucy,
Chapter 42: Lucy,
Chapter 43: Diana,
Chapter 44: Lucy,
Chapter 45: Lucy,
Chapter 46: Lucy,
Chapter 47: Lucy,
Chapter 48: Diana,
Chapter 49: Lucy,
Chapter 50: Diana,
Chapter 51: Diana,
Chapter 52: Diana,
Chapter 53: Lucy,
Chapter 54: Diana,
Chapter 55: Diana,
Chapter 56: Diana,
Chapter 57: Diana,
Chapter 58: Lucy,
Chapter 59: Diana,
Chapter 60: Nettie,
Chapter 61: Lucy,
Chapter 62: Nettie,
Chapter 63: Lucy,
Chapter 64: Lucy,
Also by Sally Hepworth,
About the Author,
Copyright,

Customer Reviews

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The Mother-in-Law 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
Angela Houston 4 months ago
Thank you to NetGalley and to St. Martin's Press for sending me this Advanced Reader Copy. This book will be available for purchase on April 23rd, 2019, and I’m here to tell you that if you like mysteries, humor, rotating perspective, and you dislike your mother-in-law...this one’s for you. JUST KIDDING! You can absolutely adore your mother-in-law and still love this whodunnit. Set in Australia, Diana Goodwin is your no nonsense, no drama mom who has worked for everything she has and takes nothing for granted. She’s not particularly known for her engaging or empathetic nature, which gives the police quite the job when she’s discovered dead in her home. Whatever Diana lacked emotionally, her daughter-in-law Lucy has been personal witness to. She’s experienced firsthand the cold, dismissive demeanor of the dearly deceased and the Goodwin family dramatics. Married to Diana’s son, Ollie, Lucy is all too familiar with what it feels like to be on Diana’s bad side, and unfortunately for Lucy, the feeling has been mutual. Caught up in a possible murder investigation, Lucy must rethink everything she’s assumed about her mother-in-law. As secrets are exposed, Lucy begins to question whether or not she ever truly knew Diana at all. But Diana’s secrets won’t be the only ones to see the light of day... Navigating their way through Diana’s death, her children, Ollie and Nettie, must put their faith in one another and try to mend the broken bridges of the past in order to move on and to find out what happened to Diana. As I mentioned before, the book is narrated between two perspectives, Diana’s and Lucy’s. The story rotates between the present and the past, giving the reader their own front-row seat to the Goodwin family-technics, as I lovingly call them. Can you piece together what happened to Diana? I found this book to be a lighthearted mystery. The characters are relatable, and, as the reader, you get both Lucy's and Diana’s perspectives, of which each is seriously misunderstanding of the other's—much as in real life, which makes this novel all the more accessible and profound. Who hasn't had a negative thought about their mother-in-law? Who has never thought critically of their daughter-in-law? How many of us have wished we had taken that opportunity to say something nice, but instead remained silent? You don’t need to have a tumultuous relationship to understand the complexity of the mother-daughter-by-marriage dynamic. All in all, I finished the book on a positive note, feeling satisfied with the ending, and discovering a newly found respect for my own MIL relationship. Hence the 4 out of 5 rating I’m giving this little gem. Remember, ya’ll...you never know what someone else is going through. Act accordingly.
Anonymous 4 days ago
Another great book by Sally Hepworth. I thoroughly enjoy her books, The characters are always so well developed and the plot in this book was really. I actually thought in would be one of two other people who did the deed.
Anonymous 5 days ago
Thoughtful+character+development%2C+great+dialogue%2C+exploration+of+life+situations+from+different+character+perspectives.+I+highly+recommend+the+read.+
Anonymous 21 days ago
Really kept my interest. I hope she writes more books!
RobinLovesReading 3 months ago
Lucy was just like every other bride when she first got married. She envisioned a happy life with her new husband Oliver. However, his mother Diana treated Lucy with such contempt that it soon became apparent that things would not always be rosy with Lucy's marriage to Oliver. Diana was all but an icon, and Lucy would do anything to please her. In fact, she actually would like to be just like her. However, she was never afforded that opportunity. Ten years pass, and Lucy's difficult relationship with Diana never got any better. Shockingly, Diana has been found dead and there was a suicide note. As soon as the autopsy is done, however, it is clear that Diana was suffocated. So, what happened? Who killed her? This intriguing story is delivered in dual points of view. We get that of Lucy, and then also, Diana. What was interesting is how Diana's view was played throughout the pages of this book. This read was full of twists and turns as secrets were revealed, layer by layer, and this allowed the reader to slowly discover who the killer was. An interesting fact about this book is the genres that it falls in. It is listed as a mystery/thriller but also a women's fiction. No doubt that is due to the dynamics explored with this family. I think it was done rather well. However, I still managed to be surprised at the outcome. I love convoluted stories that can manage to shock me and that deliver a powerful conclusion. I enjoyed this book by Sally Hepworth and look forward to reading her previous titles, as well as whatever she has in store for the future. Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
5669317 3 months ago
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for my honest opinion. This was a twisted story about family. I really enjoyed the past and present storylines told in different voices that finally converged in the end. Great storytelling!
susan568SW 3 months ago
I was expecting more of a mystery thriller than an examination of relationships within a family but this was still an enjoyable read and I didn't guess who the killer was so that was a plus.
CynB 3 months ago
The Mother-in-Law, by Sally Hepworth, was one of the most enjoyable and well-written books I have read this year. I raced through it, and I was sorry to get to the last page. Part family drama, part mystery, the story centers on the characters and relationship of the two women at its core. The mother/daughter-in-law relationship is often challenging, as many of us know. Like so many others, these two complex people try to connect, trip over their past, fumble good-hearted attempts, retreat into alienated silence, all in an attempt to achieve understanding. More than one person dies, and the motives of several are suspected as possible culprits. Hepworth is a master of both character and plot definition. The two main characters sparkle as unique individuals, each shaped by her personal history and a particular view of the present. Each chapter is narrated by one of the main characters and moves seamlessly from past to present. A few times I was so immersed I did not notice that a new chapter had begun and was momentarily confused by the change in narrator. Sally Hepworth is a new author to me. I highly recommend this novel. I cannot wait to read her other works. Thank you so much to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for sending me an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was lucky enough to also win a Goodreads giveaway. It allowed me to get to know the author and identify her other novels.
Carolefort 3 months ago
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth is a suspenseful family drama. Ollie and Lucy have fallen in love and Lucy is about to meet her future mother-in-law Diana. To say that Diana is aloof and indifferent is an understatement. Each chapter alternates between Diana and Lucy, in the past and in the present, as their relationship changes over the years. Until Diana is found dead in her home, and the authorities have difficulty establishing if her death was a suicide or a murder. A suicide note is found hidden in a drawer and not close to the body. Her lawyer notifies her family that she has disinherited them and left her substantial fortune to a favorite charity. What could have happened to Diana? This novel deals with mother-in-law issues that many of us have encountered and therefore it hits home. The suspense is successfully maintained throughout and the characters are interesting. This is an enjoyable read and I highly recommend it. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
gisellsamaniego 3 months ago
This novel is truly amazing. The interpersonal relationships are detailed and vivid. The characters are extremely realistic and relatable. The plot is unique and the treatment of common situations in unconventional and unexpected ways is terrific. To me, the best part, is the exploration of pre-conceived notions of how one should feel and act, and how through time, shared experiences and personal growth, that changes and evolves. I loved it so much I will give a copy to my mother-in-law.
Kristin975 3 months ago
When Lucy first meets her soon-to-be mother-in-law Diana, she knows right away that Diana is not who she wants her son to marry. Diana is crass, rude, and sometime just plain nasty. Lucy's fiancee and then husband Ollie tells her not to worry about it, that his mother likes her just fine. But this family is full of lies and deceit. Diana refuses to help her children financially, even though they ask every chance they get. She spends more time with the refugees she helps than her own family. And she still seems to hate Lucy for no reason. The Mother-in-Law was so good and such a fast read, that I took it with me everywhere I went and finished it in a day! I cannot wait to read more by Sally Hepworth! Thank you NetGalley!
lsmoore_43 4 months ago
I loved this thriller from start to finish. It held my attention and had me wanting more. It was well developed with likable characters. Even the characters you love to hate were likable in their rolls. The whodunnit was great and it left me feeling like I never wanted it to end. Lots of great books but this one is exceptional. I loved it. Thank you to NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for a copy of this book.
tc3von 4 months ago
The beginning of this book quickly prompted me to text my daughter-in-law and tell her what an amazing mother and wife she is, I thought I had it figured out already. This is a mystery, family disputes,& psychological thriller, in line with Big Little Lies. Lots of characters and family dynamics going on here. The mother-in-law, Dianna ends up dead at the very beginning and the story goes back and forth until the truth is revealed, I lost. But, it was so much more. The relationship between the mother and daughter-in-law was complex and hearing what each person was "really" thinking, brought light to the old saying, never judge a book by its cover. I think you'll like this one friends.
Christinastephanie 4 months ago
I really enjoyed this book and read it in two days! I thought the writing style was amazing and I loved that it was told from the Mother-in-Laws perspective too! I went in thinking I knew what was going to happen and I was very surprised! If you enjoy a fast paced story that leaves you wanting to know what’s next - then this book is for you! I gave this book /5 stars it’s the second book I’ve read by Sally Hepworth and I now want to read them all! Thank you to St. Martins’s Press, NetGalley and Sally Hepworth for the free advanced digital copy!
PNWBookworm 4 months ago
The Mother-in-Law was a great read for me. Well written and plotted, the book flowed nicely and was a pleasure to read. Told in alternating views and timelines, the book does a great job of starting with a bang and then filling the gaps in with just enough information to keep you reading. Hepworth did a great job of creating a cast of characters that readers will relate too and empathize with. Although I didn’t like them all I found that I could relate to them. Overall it was a good read for me and I would recommend it.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This is a family drama about the relationships between mother-in-laws and daughter-in laws. And also between mothers and their children. And husbands and wives. It is about the complicated bonds of family, in the good times and the bad. When Diana, the family matriarch, is found dead, the investigation leads from suicide to homicide to questioning Lucy (Diana's daughter-in-law) and Ollie (Diana's son). Lucy has never had a great relationship with her mother=in-law and the unusual circumstances surrounding Diana's death bring everything about their relationship into question. This story jumps around in time, which I both liked and didn't like. Early in the book it was hard for me to connect with each of the characters and storyline jumps. It was a slow start. However, I did eventually get pulled into all the different timelines and enjoyed learning more about each of the characters in this family. It just took some time to get to that point. I would give this book 3.5 stars. I liked it quite a bit, just wish that it would have done more to grab my attention in the early parts of the book. Still, a solid read!
bookaholique 4 months ago
Lucy wants nothing more than to have a close relationship with her mother-in-law Diane. Having lost her Mom at a young age, she dreams about bonding with Diane - having those close moments that she would have shared with her Mom. Alas, it was not meant to be. Diane is standoffish from their very first meeting. As the years pass, they relationship only gets worse. Will it ever change? Sally Hepworth has not only written about the mother/daughter-in-law relationship, but also about in-law relationships in general. Some of the family members try very hard to be agreeable, while others are unlikeable from the get go. Isn't that how it often goes in real life? There are many moving parts to this story and the author did a very good job of weaving it all together. The story moves along at a good pace and there was an interesting ending. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley.
EdnaG 4 months ago
Just amazing. The Mother-In-Law had me at the first chapter! Sally Hepworth is a new favorite. I was in the twist and turns and was wrong every time. The family of dysfunction and only the Mother-in-Law could see it brewing. Absolutely an amazing ride. Thank you, Sally Hepworth and NetGalley for the chance to read.
LGandhi 4 months ago
When I first finished this book I rated it 4 stars. It was really 3.5 stars and I rounded up. After putting thought into this review, I have decided to round down. I actually really enjoyed this story. It's a great concept. It's a fascinating story. And crazy enough, it's so relevant with the issue of entitled kids this generation is dealing with. Mommy and Daddy are rich beyond their means so the kids think everything should be handed to them on a silver platter. But that's not the kind of mom Diana is!!! I may not have agreed with all the decisions she made, but I respect the ethics she tried to instill in her kids. Here is my biggest issue with this book that caused me to round down - this book is tagged as a mystery or thriller and I just didn't get it. There wasn't really any big mystery or thrill to it. I think it has the potential to be a huge thriller and I kept waiting and waiting for a thrill that never came. There is a tiny twist at the very end of the story but it's not enough to constitute the genre this book is being labeled as. I do feel it's a really good fiction story. It's a pretty quick read and the story will suck you in. I wasn't disappointed in the author's character development. Some you will like and some you will want to strangle, which keeps the book interesting. I wanted to be able to give this a higher rating. Again the story is enjoyable and well written, I just feel it's being labeled wrong for the content which is a little misleading for the reader. My thanks to Sally Hepworth, St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This was the first book of Sally Hepworth's that I have read. I didn't know what to expect but enjoyed getting to know the characters in The Mother-in-Law. I was hooked fairly quickly and found myself looking forward to each character's storyline. I would like to have known more of Diana's story. This book explores the relationships between family members and made me wonder how I fit in my "in-law" story. A good read.
Nycol 4 months ago
I completely devoured The Mother in Law by Sally Hepworth. What a revealing, emotional, twisty, suspenseful, and dynamic story about family, secrets, lies, and the resilience of a (sometimes complicated and brash) mother’s love. Lucy has an expectation of who her mother-in-law will be. After losing her own Mom she thinks a strong relationship with her mother-in-law will be in her future. After meeting her mother-in-law for the first time, she’s sadly disappointed. Diana, Lucy’s mother-in-law, has been through much more than anybody knows. It’s her resilience and sense of self which grounds her in her convictions and interactions with her children and daughter in law. This book speaks loudly to what happens when expectations are crushed, misunderstandings are born, and words left unspoken leave false interpretations. Then add in family secrets, family lies, murder, and suicide and you have one whopper of a read! Told from both Lucy and Diana’s points of view, this book is both dynamic and revealing about our expectations, our perceptions of others and how we can get it so wrong. Murderously wrong! I read this book in less than 12 hours. I just couldn’t put it down! This was the first book I’ve read by this author but plan look for her other works to devour them as well. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
HomeSweetHouser 4 months ago
This book is being put in the mystery/thriller genre, but while it does have an element of mystery, I would consider it more of a domestic drama. It was definitely more of a slow burn than a full blow edge-of-your-seat thriller. And it was also very good. Talk about a study in perspective and miscommunication. Lucy and her mother-in-law, Diana, are a walking, talking example of how differing personalities and communication styles can drastically affect relationships between people when the parties involved aren't on the same page. I was addicted to their stories and how they tried to navigate the sometimes challenging daughter-in-law-mother-in-law relationship. It's particularly difficult with Diana because of her strong opinions and unyielding moral values, which can at times cause rifts throughout the entire family. And when Diana is found dead, the question becomes... did Diana commit suicide or did somebody have motive to kill? Sally Hepworth's writing was wonderfully executed, keeping my interest the entire time. I am usually a fan of books with relatively short chapters because I tend to be more inclined to keep reading when a chapter ends, flying right through the book from cover to cover. And this book was no exception. Flipping between time periods, past and present, can often be challenging to accomplish without causing confusion for the reader, but in this case was absolutely essential to the storytelling. I also enjoyed the "past of the past" timeline that took place even earlier in time and how that tied into the overall story. Overall, I enjoyed this one very much and would recommend to those who typically enjoy domestic dramas with a pinch of mystery. -I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Sally Hepworth, and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to review.-
1st-Reader-of-stories 4 months ago
#The Mother-in-Law# NetGally# This is one of Sally Hepworth’s best. A very thought invoking study of the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and their families. As everyone who has ever been married knows, we can all recognize the competitive nature of the MIL and the DIL. In this book, the reasons for discord are not clear in the first part of the book, but they are made clearer in the second half. I was not feeling the love for any of the characters at first, but grew to respect Lucy and Diana’s relationship. There is much misunderstanding about the relationships among all the characters. The book does bring up some controversial issues that are difficult to read. All in all, a very enjoyable book to read. Will definitely recommend this book to all my friends and family. 5 stars. Thank you to NetGally and the publisher for an advance read copy in return for a fair and honest review.
Caroldaz 4 months ago
Lucy and her mother-in-law, Diana, do not see eye to eye and do not get along. This story is told from each of their perspectives and is compelling from the very first page. Lucy and Ollie, Diana’s son, are married with three children. Diana appears cold and unloving, except towards her husband Tom. Diana is bereft after the death of Tom and when she is found dead, it appears that she may have taken her life. Throughout the story we learn more of Lucy and Diana and their past history. Things are not always what they appear to be. This is an excellent story of domestic drama, family struggles, greed and also love.
sbart84 4 months ago
Wow!!! This is a book that I read in two sittings, could not put it down. So many twists and turns and a surprise ending that will blow you away. Loved how it was told in a dual POV, Lucy the daughter in law and Diana, the mother in law. It also goes from past to present in the POV's. I highly recommend this book!!