Book Review: The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

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The Mother-in-LawThe Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I read one of Sally Hepworth’s earlier novels last year and immediately connected with her writing style and storytelling approach. I marked the rest of her books as TBR, then saw The Mother-in-Law available via NetGalley. I was lucky enough to be approved for an ARC earlier this week and began reading it right away. What an emotional and angst-ridden tale about the relationship between several family members who can feel all too real and all too fake at the exact same time. I truly enjoyed this book and give it 4.5 stars. Let’s get into some specifics…

Lucy lost her mother when she was young. Although her father was wonderful, she never felt that connection with an older female who could guide her through becoming a mother, caring for a family, or securing your own position in the world as a strong, intelligent woman. When she meets Ollie, and he wants to introduce her to his family, Lucy is nervous but hopeful it fills a hole that’s been growing for far too long. Unfortunately, when Lucy meets his mother, Diana, it becomes quite clear that won’t happen.

Diana had a difficult childhood and was essentially almost forced to give Ollie up as a baby. When she was kicked out, Diana learned how to build something from nothing and to care for her family when she didn’t even have a place to live. She used that savvy experience to become a major player in an organization that helps young women trying to escape from difficult circumstances in their own country and move to America for a better life. Diana also developed a thick skin and an attitude that no one should be given a handout without working for it in return.

Although the story alternates chapters from Lucy’s and Diana’s viewpoints throughout the decade they know one another, there are other characters who help show what each woman is truly made of. Diana’s husband, Tom, is the complete opposite of her; he’s a lovable, genuine, and thoughtful husband and father who gets sick. Ollie’s sister and her husband are desperate for a baby and go to the extremes to make it happen with or without their family’s support and money. Ollie’s best friend becomes his business partner and wreaks havoc on a complex family relationship. Then there’s the 3 young children Ollie and Lucy have during that first decade. Throw in Diana’s untimely death, mysterious circumstances that make it look like a suicide but also a murder… and you’ve got quite a psychological exploration of what it means to be a parent and an in-law.

This book explores that fine line of how you say things without coming across as insensitive or rude, how you determine when to let a mistake happen so a new parent learns on her own how to care for the child, and how you deal with making a decision when you and your spouse are on opposite sides of how to best support your children. At times, Diana was truly a horrific witch of a human being. You come to realize she kinda knows the way she’s behaving is wrong, but it’s been ingrained in her. When she softens, you want to root for her. You want to believe she will turn that corner and do the right thing. Then she goes in the opposite direction, unlike Lucy, who is nearly consistent almost the entire time. She sucks it up when Diana is rude or distant. She does all the things she doesn’t want to do just so she doesn’t look like she’s being difficult. Until something bad happens, then Lucy blows up.

While 90% of me sides with Lucy, I do understand Diana’s approach. And it works in many circumstances; however, there comes a time when you let someone try to help themselves for only so long before it becomes too late. If you have an excess of money, and your children need it, don’t hold on to it forever if they have put years into helping themselves only to fail for reasons out of their control. Eventually, Diana begins to see the light, but it’s too late. Too much has been set in action, and her death is imminent. Was she murdered by one of these people who felt she went too far? Did she commit suicide because she felt guilty? Was it a freak and unexpected accident? You’ll have to read the book to find out, but I believe it’s worth it.

I couldn’t put the novel down. If I did, within 15 minutes, I kept telling myself ‘just one more chapter.’ Hepworth is brilliant at displaying angst, love, pain, and despair in a family who needs a little therapy to heal and forgive. It’s down-to-earth, regular actions and words that remind you of your own world (not the drama necessarily, but the way people relate to one another) feel comfortable yet push you just enough to question how you think about a situation. I adored this book and would love to give it a full 5-stars, but there were a few items I thought could have been a bit more tidy to be absolutely perfect. The ending is ‘ten years’ in the future which is great, but I would love to have seen some of the immediate drama after Diana’s death. We get a lot, but once the true reason she died is discovered, there’s a bit of a windy wrap-up without a clear enough focus on everyone’s reactions to the truth. I don’t want to spoil this surprise, but ultimately, if you’re gonna throw a curveball at us, give us a few reactions from the rest of the people involved so we sense a complete and thorough emotional see-saw when learning what happened to your family member.

That said, it’s a high recommendation from me… can’t wait to see what others think when it comes out in early 2019.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.


27 thoughts on “Book Review: The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

    Shalini said:
    December 16, 2018 at 11:25 AM

    Oooh Jay this is the one more chapter kinda read… Seems awesome. I think I got rejected for this book. Fab ‘brief’ review… Just kidding. You are simply fab😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Jacquie Biggar said:
    December 16, 2018 at 1:54 PM

    Fantastic review! I’ll have to give her books a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    devouringbooks2017 said:
    December 16, 2018 at 9:07 PM

    Wow I can’t wait to get to this! You make it sound so good! It might be the perfect read to get me out of my reading slump that I’ve been in!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      December 16, 2018 at 10:20 PM

      It’s really good. Have you read Hepworth before? Similar to Amanda Prowse or Jojo Moyes. If you love those you will love her.


        devouringbooks2017 said:
        December 16, 2018 at 10:24 PM

        I haven’t read ANY of those authors actually! I got an unsolicited ARC in the mail. I get them all the time. I just got a copy of The Night Before and Saving Meghan as well. I have been getting a bunch of doubles lately too. I’m trying to trade my doubles before publication.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        December 16, 2018 at 10:27 PM

        Lucky you! I totally understand with the TBR list getting so long.

        Liked by 1 person

        devouringbooks2017 said:
        December 16, 2018 at 10:43 PM

        It’s not a bad problem to have

        Liked by 1 person

    Carrie said:
    December 16, 2018 at 9:13 PM

    Great review Jay! I also have this one on my shelf to read and glad to see a good review for it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      December 16, 2018 at 10:21 PM

      Yes! I’ve seen a few negative ones but I thought it was deep and analytical.


    Patty Magyar said:
    December 17, 2018 at 9:24 AM

    I loved this book…I could not stop reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      December 17, 2018 at 9:33 AM

      Yes! It had so much drama but in a reserved manner. I liked that there was really only one explosive scene.


    Abby said:
    December 17, 2018 at 12:30 PM

    Great review James! I just finished this one a few weeks ago, and it was SO good. I liked it so much better than The Family Next Door. Sally Hepworth knocked it out of the park this time.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      December 17, 2018 at 2:05 PM

      I need to read The Family Next Door… I think that will be next on my list. Off to see if I read your review. There were a few weeks I missed a lot of blogs! :O

      Liked by 1 person

    The Cozy Pages said:
    December 17, 2018 at 2:01 PM

    Ohh… intriguing… I like the premise and the alternating points of view.

    Liked by 1 person

    angiedokos said:
    December 18, 2018 at 9:33 PM

    Reblogged this on Angie Dokos.

    Liked by 1 person

    Rae Longest said:
    December 26, 2018 at 10:58 PM

    Book sounds fascinating, Exceptional review, Jay, as always from you. I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    […] ‘The Mother-in-Law’ by Jay at This Is My Truth Now […]

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