The Mother-In-Law, by Sally Hepworth
Published by St. Martin’s Press, 23rd April 2019
Genres: Contemporary fiction, Mystery
Source: Borrowed (library book)
Trigger warnings: miscarriage, suicide, terminal illness
From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was held at arm’s length. Although Diana is always polite to a fault, Lucy knows that even after marrying Oliver, she and Diana will never have the close bond she imaged and hoped for. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t get to choose your mother-in-law. Diana is the matriarch of a loving family, a pillar of her community and Lucy just wanted to please her.
That was ten years ago. Now Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But things do not add up; the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation, the suicide note was left concealed in a drawer, and everyone in the family is hiding something…
This book is such a brilliant portrayal of family dynamics! Not only between mother and daughter-in-law, but also between siblings, between parents and children and even spouses. I really enjoyed reading it and the mystery surrounding Diana’s death kept me intrigued right up until the reveal. I had my suspicions but I was still surprised at the end!
One of my favourite aspects of the book was the different narrators. I usually love this style of writing, but in this case in particular it was really brilliant. The varied perspectives really enhanced the difficulties in Lucy and Diana’s relationship in particular. It just goes to show how many disagreements and upsets are actually simply misunderstandings and miscommunications. In this particular situation it worked really well, as did the switching timelines.
In spite of some fairly heavy material (see trigger warnings please), this book remains extremely funny and a brilliantly-written window into tense family dynamics.
My rating: 4/5