Review: The Mother in Law by Sally Hepworth

mother in lawFrom 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’s 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 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.




This book makes me feel like I stumbled into the greatest party of my life. My neighbors were holding a party, I wanted to make a brief appearance and get out. However, once the door was opened, I couldn’t leave until the party was done. In the end, it ended up being an experience that would have an impact on my mind and life. That is how I felt when I read this book. I was just expecting a quick, fun psychological thriller. However, I was engrossed from the first page. I met characters that I was drawn to and encountered themes that struck a chord with me. I ended up with a way different experience than expected.

I mean, I thought I’d like the book but in the end, I loved it. And no, it wasn’t really a party. This was as heart wrenching as it was entertaining.

Diana really gives a completely new meaning to tough love. Imagine being broke yet your parents are loaded. She wanted her kids to learn how to be independent and work hard for everything they had. Some of her lessons were excessively tough and balanced on the thin line between love and hate. She seemed too stingy. However, the author still managed to show us a softer side of this matriarch. I disliked her at first but liked her in the end although I still don’t agree with all that she did.

The strength of this narrative lies in the masterful character development. Diana is that mother in law whose character leaped from the pages of the book right to my mind and heart, I won’t easily forget her. Her daughter in law, Lucy, was also quite relatable. I was nervous for her when she met Diana. I could relate with her fears and pains. Lucy was such a likeable character who aptly portrayed the nerves of joining a new family. Each character had a story, some I liked and empathized with but others repulsed me.

Apart from the characterization, the themes were also well portrayed. I love how the author tackled different themes such as family, fertility, mental health. She did this without losing focus on the main story-line. If anything, the themes helped in the character development and enriched the story.

This ended up being an enjoyable, twisty yet heart wrenching story about family, love and loss.