Book Review and Giveaway: The Mother-In-Law

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Author: Sally Hepworth
ISBN: 9781760552183
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 29 January 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

I have been a fan of Sally Hepworth ever since reading her debut and I always look out for her latest release.

The Mother-In-Law is a story that dragged me in from the very beginning and did not want to let go. Of late my reading has been sorely neglected, even books I enjoy have taken me two weeks to read. I got through the Mother-In-Law in about 4 days. If not for work and fitting in some last minute family time before the holidays ended it would have been much less.

I truly believe that this is going to be a story that stays with me, a story that makes me think beyond the surface and remember that you can never truly know another person’s mind.

The relationship between mother and daughter-in-law is often one that comes under scrutiny and is stereotypically fraught with tension. That is not always the case of course but there are always exceptions to the stereotypes.

I loved this book and I think it tells an important story, but I also think it is going to be one of those books that each reader is going to take their own experiences into and that is definitely going to colour their reading experience. Already I have read a couple of reviews that are so different from what I thought that I almost had to wonder if we read the same book.

Hepworth has written very strong characters, very set in their ways and single-minded about their purpose. I can see how they would be perceived differently depending on where you’re coming from but I quite enjoyed the way it played out.

The narrative flips between the present and the past and is told by Lucy and Diana, daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. These two characters are polar opposites on the surface. Lucy lost her mother as a teenager and though she has done perfectly well with just her dad it hasn’t stopped her missing that maternal influence so she has always dreamed of the day she would marry and gain not only a husband but also a mother-in-law with whom she can bond over baking. I’m sure this is something many young wives can relate to, not necessarily because they lost their mother young. There are many reasons we may look for that maternal connection with a mother-in-law.

Diana is a character who is going to divide readers of this one. She is a hard nut who doesn’t like attention and doesn’t share a lot about herself, she’s uncomfortable with attention and that makes it difficult to get to know her.

The Mother-In-Law opens with the news that Diana has been found dead in her home; it looks like suicide but the police need to investigate to be sure.

It is soon apparent that though it looks like suicide there is also evidence of suffocation, and everyone in the family is hiding something.

The narrative unfolds through past and present and by a third of the way in I felt truly sad for Diana. Yes, she comes across as hard and cold but through the first person narratives Hepworth allows us into her head so we see a little more of who she really is. We begin to understand the thinking behind her actions.

Hepworth has woven a gripping suspense that is character driven, and by the most fascinating characters. I found Diana to be the most fascinating by far. Yes, she has her faults but everything she did was from a good place; even if no-one else could see that.

The Mother-In-Law was a compelling and complex story of family, love, desire and devotion. I loved it and I could talk about it all night but there are too many twists and too many side story arcs that it would be easy to throw in a massive spoiler that might affect someone else’s enjoyment.

I found it an insightful and thought-provoking read that made me think about all the different ways there are to interpret anything, and how easy it is to misunderstand what was intended. How easy it is for us to interpret with our own insecurities and therefore totally miss the meaning of the words/gesture. We don’t always know and understand the background of the family we marry into so we can’t understand some of the gestures. To be completely honest we can’t know anyone else’s mind completely so we can never completely understand what motivates them.

Diana’s was a complex backstory and I loved getting to know her a little better. I think she was a strong and loving character, devoted to her family and doing what she thought was best even if it didn’t always hit the mark. I think it’s sad how much understanding dawned after it was way too late.

The Mother-In-Law is book #2 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2019.

You can follow Sally Hepworth on Facebook, her Website and Twitter.

The Mother-In-Law is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now through Angus & Robertson, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan we have 3 copies of The Mother-In-Law to giveaway to readers. So for your chance to win please tell us in the comments below about your most memorable mother-in-law moment.

Competition closes 28/02/19 midnight AEST. You must be subscribed to the Beauty and Lace newsletter OR a Facebook fan to enter. Make sure you use a valid email address so we can contact you if you are a lucky winner

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29 thoughts on “Book Review and Giveaway: The Mother-In-Law

  1. Wearing a mini skirt, I first met my mother-in- law dis-embarking of the ‘Fairstar’ cruise ship in 1984. I had both hands full with my 2 bottles of duty free alcohol, and I tripped over my suitcase, legs in the air , everything on show I jumped up, yelling ‘bottles aren’t broken’ at that moment my partner (I’m still with) says Kathy I’d like you to meet my mum!!!!!

  2. Not a great memorable moment but my mother in law was telling me how she snooped through one of my brother in law’s stuff while staying with him (he lives a nice high life overseas). I turned to her and said “is that what you do while your staying at my p-lace”. Her response was “oh no you don’t have anything good to snoop through”… ah the BEAUTY of mother in law’s.

  3. My wedding day and my mother in law was shocked beyond words that I wasn’t wearing stockings (how could I be so brazen!) It was 1983 and a 36° day and I wore a full length wedding gown for goodness sakes . She never forgot it and till she passed away would still bring it up whenever it was our wedding anniversary! Don’t know how she’d cope with today’s wedding gowns.

  4. My mother-in-law (MIL) is THE most amazingly wonderful person in the world and I wouldn’t trade her for anyone. For many complicated reasons when I was first met her as my other half’s girlfriend we did not tell her that my lovely three year old daughter was her grandchild. One day I couldn’t stand the intrigue any longer so I went to see her. Outside, helping hang out the washing I said I needed to tell her something but didnt know where to begin, her reply “just say it”. So I said M is D’s daughter. Without missing a beat MIL said, it doesn’t make any difference. Then she stopped, looked at me ans said “of course it makes a difference, I wish I’d been there to help when you needed it”.. That was 30 years ago, She’s still one of the most special people in my life and loving granny to my daughter and gg (great granny) to my grandson.

  5. My mother in law is quite ill and recently told me that I’m a great mother and wife and that I should be so proud of myself. It made me cry. We have quite a good relationship and my kids are lucky to have her as their nanna.

  6. My mother-in-law did not go to my daughters (her granddaughter) wedding last year as her AFL team was playing a home game and she didn’t want to miss it.
    My youngest daughters Christmas present from her this year was a males perfume that she had bought from an op shop and is old. Great when your a 14 year old girl.

    These are the nice memories.

  7. I was 18 spending time in my boyfriend at the times room when his mother walked in with washing for him. She made a quick exit and it took me a long time to look her in the eyes again.

  8. My mother-in-law told me once that I was the only person that really showed love and care towards her. She was living in an abusive marriage. When I suspected my husband of 21 years was having an affair, that he was denying, she encouraged me to leave. Haven’t spoken to her since but am grateful she knew the truth.

  9. When my mother in law turned 70 I bought her tickets to see Mary Poppins the musical. She hadn’t been to the theatre in years and she was so excited she started dancing around like a young girl 🙂

  10. i dont have any “crazy mother in law ” stories. I am super lucky to have a helpful, kind, doesnt think she knows best mother in law….( who has well an truly cut the apron strings ) She is also a great Nanna to our little tribe !!

    I lurveee Sally Hepworth and cant wait to read this one!!

  11. My mother in law is sadly not with us anymore but when I first met her she said to me “ thanks for marrying my son “ she was a lovely lady

  12. The second meeting with the mother-in-law we were talking about babies and children, who knows why. She mentioned that her son was premature except for down there, the nurses commented on his “two jellybeans” for a small baby. At that point she turned to me saying, “I guess you’d know if they are still substantial”. I nearly died

  13. Mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I had been out for dinner, walking back to the car, Mother-in-law walked right into a grass covered hole. She went in right up to her boobs, sister-in-law and I couldn’t stop laughing at Mums misfortune. It was a ‘bonding’ moment that years later is still referred back to with mirth.

  14. Staying with my then boyfriend at his mothers house I did a load of ‘intimates’ washing and my boyfriends mum offered to hang it out for me. Not thinking I just said yes. I heard her screech oh my god not my little boy. I went running out to the clothesline only to discover she was holding up my thong. Once she got her composure back she said I just don’t see the value in a scrap of material. Needless to say I did my own washing and hung it out myself after that episode.

  15. Memorable of meeting my mother in law for the first time at her place for Christmas lunch which I had no idea I was actually going till 1 hour before I arrived. I honestly thought I had arrived at the house of those old movies Ma & Pa Kettle. She was a bigger build, wearing a shift dress and her hair was pinned back with a thousand bobby pins and she wreaked of Charlie perfume and wore the most ghastly red lipstick and bright red rouge on her lips and to top it off, a very high pitched voice. I should have run then but I did end up marrying her son. Nope it didn’t last though.

  16. I don’t have a mother-in-law as I’ve never had someone love me enough to want to marry me.!
    Instead I have filled my life with travel, cats, books and tattoos which all have millions of stories of their own!!

  17. Sadly, my mother in law died before I ever met my husband. However, his sister is 15 years older than he is, and in my view is just as maddening as any mother in law could ever be. She is completely unable to grasp the fact that my eldest is deaf. When he was little, he wouldn’t sleep, and she spent an hour giving me useless instruction after useless instruction.

    “Leave an audio book playing.” He can’t hear it.

    “Leave some music playing.” He can’t hear it.

    “Don’t make eye contact, just use a stern tone of voice and send him back to bed.” He CAN’T HEAR ME and needs the eye contact to communicate.

    And so on..

  18. I accidentally put my hand on my Mother-in-law’s breast and was pretty embarrassed by it and couldn’t apologise enough. She tried to make me feel better and make a joke about it so she grabbed my breast back and it was absolutely hilarious.

  19. my mother in law once got kidnapped, the kidnappers asked for her ransom of $100,000,000. . i said ill pay you to keep her.

    an old joke

  20. We had travelled to Adelaide to visit my mother in-law and for one of our day trips we went to the Harbour Town near the Adelaide Airport. During the visit my 10 year old son had a red slushy. That night after we all went to bed my son got up during the night saying he was feeling sick. As the toilet was down the other end of the house, he did not make it in time and vomited all over my mother-in-law’s hall runner and wooden floorboards. We were trying to clean up the vomit, so it would not stain the rug, when my mother in-law came out, saw what happened and got upset, whilst walking forward my mother-in-law walked in the vomit and slipped over and landed on her fanny. The three of us, excluding my son, were on all fours in the middle of the night trying to clean the vomit of the rug so it would not stain. It was very funny and when I think about it I have a laugh inside myself, not something I shared with my husband and mother in-law as they would not find it funny.

  21. I was that girl/woman who needed a mother in her life and I cherished my relationship with Isabel, the Queen of Mothers-In-Law. There were moments of course and what comes to mind, early in my marriage was her asking what I was cooking for dinner. My answer of Spaghetti Bolognese was met with, “Ross does not like that.” My off-the-cuff reply – not the way you make it! did not make me Public Enemy No. 1. I, luckily,Judi was the daughter that filled her void.

  22. I eagerly opened my new mother-in-law’s Christmas gift only to find six plain wooden coat hangers. Turns out she a very practical woman…..

  23. My mother-in-law was a wonderful woman, gave so much love and was a dear friend. My moment would be a few minutes after giving birth birth to my daughter, 12 mins to be exact, she did not believe we had a little girl and unwrapped the precious bundle to check, and then chastised her son, my husband, for not telling her it was a girl. she kept saying ” you knew”. We both came from a very male dominated families, her and I both being only girls , surrounded my boys. So this little girl is very much loved and was Nanas girl. She is very missed.

  24. It would have to be her on my wedding day, in front of my brand new husband, saying to my then boss (who was rich, well known and more than twice my age) “I was hoping she’d marry you”

  25. she always orders the funniest things as gifts and we always get so excited to see what they are. There’s been a playboy watch (don’t think she knows what that is) clip on frog earrings, a wind chime with little skeletons on it and countless others. Just the biggest variety of obscure Nic nacks. Most recent arrived in the mail today!

  26. My mother is a wonderful lady whom I have respect for the fact that she raised 4 sons under sometimes difficult vircumdtances and taught them all to treat their wives/girlfriends like princesses. I must say I am most Thankful for this advice.

  27. my mother in law was once kidnapped , and the kidnappers demanded $100,000 for her release. we told the kidnappers that we will pay them to keep her . old joke

  28. One Christmas in Victoria, my family travelled to spend Christmas with my Mother In Law. Of course by lunchtime, except me, most of the adults were sloshed. It was extremely hilarious watching my mother in law bend down to reach for oven trays, extra crockery and insisted she help prepare lunch as much as possible. Watching everyone drink more & eat very little, lets just say, It took me hours to clean up from lunch, while listening to Gwen snore her head off, with a huge smile on her face. She had the best day with us there that Christmas Day.

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