Review: Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquisitely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.
The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation.
Who could possibly want Diana dead?
Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?

With Lucy’s secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. Narrated by Barrie Kreinik. Audiobook was published by Macmillian Audio, April 2019. Runs 9 hours and 12 mins.

General fiction slice of life family drama is not really the type of books I read. Like… ever. I can’t even think of another one I’ve read off the top of my head. I had never even heard of this author before. The reason I picked this book to read is because I needed a book for the Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge prompt # 4- On the bandwagon: Read one of the “most read” books right now on Goodreads. Sadly, horror is not normally on the (or any) trending book list unless it is a new Stephen King book, who *eye roll* by the way, I do not really like to read (maybe one of his earlier books, but, in my eyes, he stopped being good in the mid to late 90s ) and find too tedious and kind of boring. I could rant about King forever, but that’s not what this review is about.

SO…. anyways, horror, my favorite genre of reading, isn’t really on the top Goodreads trending lists. I just went down the trending list of June until I found a book that didn’t have a plot that was a total turn off to me. The Mother-in-Law was, I think, the 4th book on the list. The first 3 books were total NOPES for me, with this book being the most appealing (or least worst sounding?). Plus, the summer reading challenge had a very small deadline (compared to the full year reading challenge), and I wanted to pick something as quick as possible and get this challenge rolling. So here I am with The Mother-in-Law.

The story went back and forth between two points of view, Lucy and Diana, the mother-in-law. Shifting between past and present. Present was from Lucy and took place after Diana died. The past POV is mostly from Diana, with a few Lucy past chapters scattered about.

I wasn’t too sure what I thought of this shift between past and present at first. Sometimes we see the same event from both perspectives. I ended up loving that the author did this though, because it helped illustrate something that is easy to misunderstand in many family relationships. There are two sides to every story. Maybe that person was super rude to you because something else was going on that day, and it really had nothing to do with you at all. But we rarely see the other side, and instead, anger and hurt feelings build up, souring the relationship, turning that family member into some kind of monster in our head. This story was a nice little reminder to maybe try to have more understanding with people, to try and see what else might be going on with them.

There is a very small suspect list in The Mother-in-Law. Because of that, it was kind of easy to see who the killer might be. Not to give any spoilers, but it was basically a 50/50 choice. I’ve seen some people find the small suspect list disappointing because it didn’t build enough suspense. Normally, I’d probably agree with that. I hate an uber predictable plot. I really didn’t mind it in this book though. Even knowing who the killer was, I was still very entertained watching things slowly unfold. The plot is definitely a slow burn, by the way. I found myself having fun watching to see how we were going to get to that ending that seemed so certain. Plus, all the main characters were keeping secrets, which added to the fun.

The narrator was Barrie Kreinik. I had never heard this narrator before. I enjoyed listening to her switch between Lucy and Diana. It sounded like a completely different voice actor. She nailed both of their character personalities so well. Her male voices were decent as well. She is really good at nailing the different age and emotions that shape a persons personality. I was really impressed by her performance.

I don’t know if this part is in the physical or eBook copies of The Mother-in-Law, but at the end of the audio book, there is a short Q & A with the author. Probably about 15 mins long and just talks about the authors books and some of her writing processes. I got the feeling that the interview was done before the author was finished writing this book, because it only briefly mentions The Mother-in-Law and focuses more on her older books. It was still a cool added bonus and I enjoyed getting to hear the author speak.

I was surprised by how much I liked this audiobook. It was a pretty entertaining story. I wouldn’t say no to reading something else by this author if the plot appeals to me.


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