Cover Image: The Mother-in-Law

The Mother-in-Law

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Member Reviews

Lots of spelling and formatting errors (spaces or line breaks in the middle of words). I usually look past this in an ARC as I know they will be ironed out and corrected before the book goes to publication. However there were a lot in this book, almost to the point where I had to leave the book unfinished as it was so distracting.

I'm glad I stuck with it though. The chapters flowed so effortlessly and I couldn't put the book down. I loved it and would definitely recommend it to people. Great reveal at the end which I didn't see coming.
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The Mother In Law starts with a bang – Lucy and Ollie get a knock on the door from the police, to hear Lucy’s mother in law is dead.

Lucy has a very difficult and complicated relationship with her mother in law, and we learn more about the reasons for this as the novel goes on, as we’re taken back to ‘the past’ and back to ‘the present’. I really like the hops between timeframes and the fact they’re so clearly labelled at the start of the chapter, which means it’s not confusing to read.

We also hop between characters’ narratives – starting off with Lucy but also reading Diana’s thoughts. I’m glad it told things from Diana’s side too as it makes her seem much more human, and we see into her thoughts and some of the reasons for the way she acts – though there’s still plenty about her that remains mysterious!

As the book goes on I started to think things had occurred one way, then the other… this kept me guessing as the book definitely has a strong sense of mystery in it, but this is never over-dramatised. It’s a fairly slow burner but I found it fascinating to read about the dynamics between not just Lucy and her mother-in-law, but also her husband, Nettie and Patrick, her other friends and other characters too. In some ways it’s a pyschological thriller but in many ways it’s not – it’s more about the characters with a good helping of tension thrown in, by way of ‘what really happened to Diana?’ It seems like everyone’s a suspect at one point or the other, and this ramps up the suspense, leading to a satisfying conclusion.

I loved delving deeper into the characters and would really recommend The Mother In Law!
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I would like to thank the author, the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I really enjoyed this book, it wasn't at all what I was expecting, lots of twists and surprises, I will read more books by this author.
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This is a fantastic modern family thriller. Lucy's mother-in-law is found dead, it looks like suicide however is a suspicious death. The family are all suspects, was it one of them? Who?
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Grateful thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved this book; I found it completely riveting and could not put it down. Just the right mix of suspense and character detail; I thought the characters were wonderful and this book really made me think about the nature and intensity of family relationships, the varying dynamics and what makes a family tick, life / work balance etc.
I will be seeking out Sally Hepworth's previous books - she is a brilliant writer.
Publisher information - as a proofreader I wanted to point out that there was a huge number of spelling and grammatical mistakes in the copy I received - notably the lack of double ff (off became of, different became diferent etc). I presume I was given the pre-edited version but if not, definitely get someone to take another look in order to avoid many mistakes.
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This was the first book I have read by Sally Hepworth but will certainly look for her others.  The story centres around the relationship between Lucy and Diana, her mother in law.  The book opens with the police knocking at Lucy and her husband Ollie’s door.  Diana has been found dead and everything points to suicide.  Lucy thinks different.  Was she murdered?  All the members of the family seem to have reasons to wish her dead, Lucy included, as Diana has always made her feelings clear about Lucy.  The chapters are told in the past and present.  Going back to when Lucy and Ollie met and how the relationship developed between Lucy and Diana.  I found that I became hooked as all the secrets from their pasts were revealed.  This was a fantastic read and one to be missed.
Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.
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So I actually ended up really enjoying The Mother-in-Law. If I'm being honest, the description didn't fill me with a huge amount of enthusiasm but whilst I standby that the premise is nothing particularly new or original, this was a very well-written psychological thriller. Lucy as a character annoyed the shit out of me and I 100% get why Diana wasn't particularly taken with her but for me, this just added to the atmosphere of the story. The ending felt a little rushed and definitely didn't blow me away but this didn't really take anything away from the story.

Overall, a pretty good read that stands just that little bit above most of the psychological thriller that are churned out these days. I had a really good time reading this and will certainly be reading other novels by Sally Hepworth in future.

3.5 Stars ***+
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I’ll start by saying this book was excellent.. I was hooked from page one and had a very hard time setting it down. The characters were well developed, the plot moved along at a great pace. I look forward to more titles by this author.
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Not my most favourite of thrillers that I have read recently. As I found it a little bit predictable and I had discovered the killer very early on. It was an ok read other than that thou.
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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.
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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth was a good read. However, I did find it hard to get into it at first then all of a sudden I was hooked and loved it. 
This book is set in Melbourne, Australia, Lucy is married to Oliver and their happy. Oliver's mother Diana comes across a lovely mother in law you could dream of and you could not fault her! She is a pillar of the community, an advocate for the social justice, the matriarch of a loving strong family. 
Diana sounds a perfect Mother in Law. However, Lucy keeps Diana at arms length and feels something is not right with her.

Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. 

Everyone in the family is hiding something!

What are they hiding?

This book is a good family saga with lots of twists and turns and family secrets throughout.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.
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There is possibly no relationship more prone to problems than that between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law so perhaps the fact that the unexpected death of Diana, the matriarch of a wealthy family, brings that relationship under examination.
The story is set in the author’s home territory of Australia, near Melbourne although she has lived around the world. Diana is a woman who expects a lot from her two children Oliver and Antoinette, not least that they don’t depend on their parents for money to fund their adult lives. This is unsurprising since Diana’s work is with women’s health, specifically that of migrants who have travelled across the world with nothing to secure their futures and are pregnant in their new home and in need of support. The lives of her two children who have been given every advantage perhaps don’t qualify for the same level of support.
On the whole I found this an intriguing read, more women’s fiction perhaps than genuine mystery although how Diana died is the central plot. We learn about Lucy, Oliver’s wife and the way her relationship with Diana was forged through the past sections of the novel, the present sections are relating to the investigation into Diana’s death and the reactions of those who were part of her life at the time. I felt that one of the book’s biggest strengths is that it illustrates how the early relationship between Lucy and Diana grew around the early misunderstandings and resentments between the pair. The holding onto stories that illustrate a character trait are huge in any family where harmony is hard to come by, and the story of the necklace lent to Lucy on her wedding day symbolises how it is very hard to switch onto the right foot once something has become a matter of a grudge in the form of a tale held up for examination at key points of stress.
As a reader my point of view on all the characters also matured as we read more about the past with the author being brave enough to challenge some conventional wisdom through using one or more of her characters as a mouthpiece. It is no secret that I’m fond of books that make me challenge my own views and it is easy to think that there is no place in commercial fiction for that kind of improvement; I disagree and so it would seem does Sally Hepworth. Overall though we are lucky enough to have an author who understands that her task is to entertain the readers, and that is done in spades. I said earlier that this struck me perhaps more as women’s fiction than a thriller but, the author does keep the suspense alive until the end. I definitely found this to be quite an addictive read as I needed to know whether my suspicions were correct and although perhaps some of the lesser characters could have been a little bit more rounded, the central ones will probably stay with me for quite some time.
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton who allowed me to read a copy of The Mother-In-Law; this unbiased review is my thanks to them, and the author Sally Hepworth for a thoroughly entertaining read.
First Published UK: 23 April 2019
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller
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This book is set in Australia and in the family home here is Oliver Lucy and their three children.

They are informed that their mother-in-law, Diana, has turned up dead and there are mysterious circumstances.

The chapters alternate from past to present and between Diana and her daughter in law, Lucy.  It is a page turner,but is not really a crime novel as described, but more of a family dispute novel.
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This book took me quite a while to get into and it wasn’t until about 65% of the way in that I actually got pulled in. My understanding is that this book falls into the thriller/mystery category which I disagree with.

I thought the ending was all just a little too neat and it had the feel that the author was writing it with the idea that it could be turned into a film. 

I enjoyed the differing viewpoints and time periods but overall I found the book to be a bit lacking. I enjoyed the characterisation of Diana but didn’t feel that the others were as well thought out.
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I enjoyed this book very much . Written in past and present from the two main characters. Lucy and her mother-in-law Diana. Diana is definetly the matriarch of the family, married to Tom with two children Ollie and Nettie. Nettie is married to Patrick and desperate for a baby and Lucy is married to Tom with two children. 
The story centers around Lucy not being good enough for Diana and is filled with tension and between the two characters.
When Diana is found dead it is of course Lucy who is thought to be blamed. Did she or did'nt she? 
The book is well written and conveys family loyalties to extremes. Well done Sally for a brilliantly written novel.
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Great book which kept me guessing right til the end. I liked how the relationship between the mother and daughter in law was explored too.
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When Lucy married Ollie Goodwin she was hoping to have the perfect relationship with her mother in law, Diana.  However, their relationship throughout the years was complicated and certainly not the relationship that Lucy had envisaged or hoped for in the early years of her marriage.  Now, 10 years later the police visit the Goodwin family to inform them that Diana has apparently committed suicide.  However, there is some suspicion surrounding the death and the police come to believe that Diana was murdered.  All of the family are now under suspicion.

The story is told from both Lucy and Diana's viewpoints, both in the past and present tense.  It is an addictive story, a family drama full of misunderstandings and resentment. It is very cleverly written and the suspense is maintained right up until the last few pages and the big reveal.  I thought I had it all figured out but I was wrong!

The Mother-in-Law is a thought provoking, engrossing read..   It explores the dynamics of the relationships within families particularly the strained relationship between mother in law/daughter in law.  I thought Diana was a particularly complex character and enjoyed the glimpses into her past and the clues as to what made her into the woman that she turned out to be. 

All in all a great story, complex characters and a hugely enjoyable read.

Thank you to Netgalley, Hodder & Stoughton and the author for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A family drama, a whodunnit.. Told from different points of view and in past and present tense. The mother in law, the daughter in law, a struggle of a changing relationship. 
I enjoyed reading this.
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A mesmerising tale of family dynamics, this is very easy to read; I was drawn in from the  beginning and seemed to reach the end very quickly!

Lucy loves Ollie; from the very first moment she met his parents she found his father, Tom, to be a warm and generous person. However Diana, his mother, was definitely chilly and stand-offish and it's gripping to follow the relationship between the parents and their children; Ollie has a sister, Nettie. Like all families, there is what you see on the surface and what lies hidden beneath. Luckily, this novel follows both Lucy and Diana through the years, allowing us to peep into the history of each of them and get both perspectives.

This is my first Sally Hepworth novel and I find myself wondering why I haven't read this author before? The story is spell-binding, with no obvious outcome. It is fast flowing, well-structured, skilfully crafted and such an easy read! I was very lucky with my own mother-in-law; with six children she was a warm and loving person and very accepting of me as a second wife. I now realise how lucky I was - Diana is certainly a bit of a cold fish but there are reasons for this and I felt as if I understood her more as the book progressed. Such clever writing didn't reveal anything until almost the end - and I didn't see that coming! A fabulous story, and thoroughly enjoyable. Another author to add to my ever-growing list of favourites, and definitely a 5* read.

My thanks to publisher Hodder & Stoughton for my copy via NetGalley. This is, of course, my honest and original review.
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I have read countless hybrids of the domestic/family drama and psychological thriller genres and at first, this doesn't seem to have any unique selling points to distinguish it from the rest. Boy, how wrong was I? You realise as soon as you begin reading that this is a special story crafted exceptionally well. Hepworth is a good enough writer to make a decent but ultimately recognisable plot quite fresh-seeming and so elevates it from the norm. This is a dark, twisted family drama which explores the dynamics between each of the characters and cleverly plays on the fear and trepidation people feel whilst around their mother in law.

It's not a fast-paced read, but the author is incredibly adept at slowly but surely ratcheting up the tension as the conclusion approaches. I really felt like a fly on the wall when the secrets, lies and dirty duplicitous behaviour was revealed and the whole story unravels to uncover the real motives of each character. The Mother in law is a riveting, immersive read with a cast of characters who are complex, flawed and real. If you enjoy realistic and relatable characters there are definitely plenty here who fit that description. I look forward to Hepworth's next novel. Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC.
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