The Mother – in – Law – Book review

download (1)  I chanced upon The Mother-in-law by Sally Hepworth as one of the must-read beach reads of  2019 . The title flipped some switch inside my head and I remembered that I had it on my Kindle . I had got it from Net Galley . But after reading books with hackneyed plots ( like about an impostor nanny with Munchhausen syndrome who is also a writer ) , I was wary about  trying out any Net-galley offering . But , thankfully , it turned out to be a pretty  satisfying read .

Plot summary :

A staunch advocate for women refugees , a prominent member of the community hailing from one of the wealthiest families & not to forget the lady’s elegance , Lucy had been properly intimidated by Diana Goodwin – her prospective mother-in-law during their first meeting . When Lucy did get married to Diana’s son eventually , she looked forward to gelling with her better and reverse Diana’s opinion of her being only a fine girl . She wanted to impress Diana properly like Diana had impressed her .

Lucy tried , very hard , during the early days of her marriage , to win over Diana but eventually gave up . But , then , she didn’t know Diana back then . Diana had an innate reserve that nobody had quite managed to navigate past  – even her children . Diana would offer sympathy , solid advice or would simply listen but she would never extend financial support . It seems that things haven’t changed much in the Goodwin household even after all these years…..

And , now , Diana is dead . While her suicide note suggests that she had taken this step because of her cancer , the autopsy does not find any cancer . But it does find traces of poison in her system and signs of suffocation .

Now that the police are looking for motivations for Diana’s homicide , there seem to be several reasonable ones . And there are several questions too -Why was Diana’s 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 Diana’s gone ? Why would Diana lie about the cancer ?

Of course , there are interesting secrets and it seems everybody knows something about Diana’s death which they are not letting out…

My thoughts on the book :

The premise of ” after x’s death ” is not a new one but the choice of the MIL – DIL relationship as the focal point for the narrative of the family’s dynamics is new . Both are very engaging  & often witty and their voices are done well .  Through Diana’s and Lucy’s narratives , we come to understand their relationship in a way which they never would , because we get an uncensored view into their mind workings . The host of secondary characters have also come out well .

I have a few things which did not sit well with me though….

For one thing , there were too many sub-texts / afterthoughts within the parentheses ,  which I felt , cramped the free flow of the narrative . Another thing which I thought was very unnecessary is the time-stamping throughout the book . . The voices of both Diana and Lucy are very distinct and the reader can easily get to know who is speaking and of which time-frame the narrator is speaking about . I think the readers today have been exposed quite well to alternating time-frame narrations and multiple POVs that they don’t require much help from the author by way of PAST and PRESENT time stamps along with the narrator’s name at the start of every chapter .

I want to ask the writer just one thing – Why don’t you trust the readers to work out these little things by themselves ? If the voices of your characters are distinct , then you don’t have anything to worry about ( Sally H can be happy as her characters ‘ voices  are really done well . She just needs to have some faith in her readers and herself ) .

The big reveal , though , was a bit underwhelming . Perhaps , not putting up his / her name as the narrator at the top of the page would have been better . It was not difficult to put together the circumstances and the name at the top of the page but the ” twist ” was not very convincing .

On the whole , Sally H. kept me turning the pages until the not-so-twisted end ( and for few above-mentioned hiccups ) and for that , I have to thank her .  It would not do to forget the publisher , St . Martin’s press  here – A big thank you to whoever approved the e – ARC on time .

Rating : 3 . 5 / 5

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A quick update on my reading…

Its been a long time since my last post . So , I thought I would just drop by with some updates on my reading . I have shared the TBR books on my bookshelf and Kindle shelf . Do look up these titles – you might get your next read or a list of books to be added to your TBR list . Here we go  –

Books on my Kindle shelf

All the books in my Kindle shelf are psychological thrillers except for The Haunting of the Hill House . Yeah, it is an addiction that I can’t  break 😉

The Good Daughter -Karin Slaughter

The Visitor – K L Slater

The Proposal – S E Lynn

The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton

The Haunting of the Hill House — Shirley Jackson

I should say I have not taken to Kindle very well. I made every single purchase here because I couldn’t resist the temptation of a superbly written blurb for yet another psychological thriller (is there anything  that is not a “psychological” thriller nowadays ?? I just don’t get our crime writers’ fascination for the word psychological . Even books with no psychology element come with the description ” a psychological thriller” – beats me!! ) The Kindle copies came at a much better price than the hardcover/paperback and that sealed the deal . But getting the reading done is a different story –   I am currently 10% into the Karin Slaughter thriller, The Good Daughter. Trust me, I have never plodded through a thriller (or any book for that matter) in my life but reading in Kindle is not the same as reading a physical copy and it’s definitely not my style of reading . I am not able to identify the thing that puts me off Kindle but so it is….There is no inclination I-need-to-finish-this-one hookups with Kindle books.  The immersive reading experience that make book-reading an experience by itself is not there for one .  I might pick them up when I have no other books to go to…The Kindle haul has become a costly mistake ( Never again ….) . Currently , my bookshelf too has a good number of books from my pretty long TBR list. I guess that would do for the present. So here are the books from my bookshelf –

Thinking Fast Thinking Slow -Daniel Kahneman

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

Shades of Saffron – Saba Naqvi

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Currently reading) – Rebecca Skloot

Jasmine Days – Benyamin

Until the next post then..