Monday, June 10, 2019

The Mother-in-Law - Sally Hepworth

Summary: Someone once told me that you have two families in your life - the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don't choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they'll never have the closeness she'd been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something...

From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: I think one of the most fascinating things to read about is complex family relationships. I myself don’t have particularly complex family relationships. I mean, every family is complex in its own way, but I feel like that mine is pretty standard as far as complex relationships go. However, I do have some extended family relationships on both sides (not directly involving me) that are very complicated, and although I totally agonize and sympathize with these people, it’s also fascinating to watch. When I meet someone I consider to be a little unstable in my life, I can’t help but think that that person is someone’s family and they’re having to deal with them all of the time, whereas I can just choose to keep them on the periphery or, if forced to, only interact with them as needed. But if you’re family, it’s kind of hard not to be deeply engaged in all the fiascos that one unstable person can bring. So after that long preamble, you can see why this book would be an interesting read for me.

There is perhaps no greater difficulty than learning to adjust to getting along with in-laws. Even people with great in-laws (like me) go through some sort of adjustment phase because the family comes with baggage—they’re already a family, and all of a sudden they’re your family and are deeply ingrained in your life in all sorts of ways. Depending on the people, this can go smoothly or it can be pretty rough. I would say that the characters in this book had it pretty rough. Here is one thing that I really liked about the book, though, and that is that the chapters were written for different characters, and that made for a particularly fascinating insight into the family relationships and difficulties. It’s one thing to see things from one narrator; it’s completely different to see it from the sides of all involved. It certainly gives a depth to the situation that only one narrator can’t offer. Although this book wasn’t deeply intellectual or anything, I did appreciate the awareness it brought to a situation when more than one narrator was weighing in on what happened. It reminded me that in my own life, there’s always more than one side to the story. That’s trite and obvious, but it’s true, and yet so easily forgettable (even though everyone is always saying it).

I always love a good murder mystery. This one had the benefit of having a good mystery without all the blood and gore that sometimes goes with the murder. That was nice, because although I do enjoy a good murder mystery, sometimes I also enjoy skipping over the extreme details of the violence that occurred or what the people had to endure at the end. I may like murder, but I’m no monster. If you also like murder mysteries but want something a little less intense than some of the serious blood and gore that is out there, this is a good book to check out.

I read this book quickly. The writing style was effortless and easy to read. It wasn’t remarkable in that it was literary genius or anything, but was pleasant and helped the story move right along. I didn’t feel like the characters were super developed or really complex (it is not a very long book, really) but there was enough substance there that I cared about them and what happened in the story. There were also enough nuances in the characters’ peripheral lives that it kept things interesting and the plot moving right along. I quite enjoyed it.

If you are into books that deal with family drama and relationships, or into clean murder mysteries, this is one you might enjoy. It will be a nice summer read as it’s not too long and not too complex. You could read it while enjoying a vacation or just relaxing.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and brief and mild discussions of sex.

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