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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

If you love books by Liane Moriarty, you are sure to enjoy novels by Sally Hepworth. Her latest novel, The Mother-in-Law is a pacy, compelling read, that explores that often fraught relationship between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law.

Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana, is a loving wife, and mother to two children. She helps pregnant immigrant women through difficult times and is a pillar of the community. She is elegant, and impeccably polite, but keeps Lucy at arm’s distance. After the death of her mum, Lucy had fantasied about the relationship she might have with her mother-in-law, so she finds it difficult to accept that it's not the close relationship she had hoped for, but instead something frosty and uncomfortable, where she simply can’t please Diana.

But then ten years on, Diana is found dead, and at first it appears to be a suicide, but then the autopsy reveals the cause of death was suffocation. The police are called in to investigate, and it soon turns out that everyone in the family is hiding something.

The story is told in first person and alternatives between past and present, and for the most part, the perspectives of Lucy and Diana. As the story progresses, the reader learns many things about the lives of the two main protagonists, but also Ollie, Lucy’s husband, and Nettie and Patrick, Lucy’s sister-in-law and husband.

The Mother-in-Law is a well-crafted novel with wonderful characters at the heart of this intriguing tale. It’s a fine piece of storytelling, one with many layers and themes that will have you thinking beyond the final page.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Macmillan, RRP $34.99