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The Mother-in-Law

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By Pat Wellington

 

By Sally Hepworth

This is a twisting, insightful and addictive novel with a compelling edge.  By telling the story from the perspectives of both the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law, author Hepworth shows us that there are always two sides to every story.

Lucy lost her mother to cancer when she was just a child. After marrying Ollie she hoped that her mother-in-law would be warm and loving. But that was not to be.  From the start elegant, haughty Diana is obviously disappointed in her son’s wife and is more aloof toward her than warm.

Thereafter in an entirely plausible plot we are walked through myriad family dynamics because it seems that everyone in Ollie’s family is harboring a secret.

Diana and husband Tom have a solid marriage but very different views about giving their children money.  Diana withholds it, leaving the two children, Ollie and Netty, to seek out their father for financial needs.

After Tom dies, Ollie’s business venture goes bankrupt and he needs money to start over.  Netty’s biological clock is running out and she needs expensive fertility drugs that her husband Patrick cannot afford.

Diana has been deeply influenced by her charity work with refugee pregnant girls and immigrants seeking jobs.  We get a glimpse into her thinking about money from this musing: “Ask anyone what they wish for their kids and they say to be happy.  Not strong in the face of adversity, not wise and tolerant.  I, on the other hand, always wanted hardship for my kids.  Take the refugee girls I deal with. They’ve been through unimaginable hardships but they are working hard and being grateful.”

Diana’s strange death turns the story into a domestic mystery. As events grow more complex, the pages fly in short bursts in a novel you can’t put down.