Book Review - The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth
This book was pitched to me as a thriller and it is landing on lists such as Goodreads' Highly Anticipated Books of 2019, The 36 Big Mysteries & Thrillers of 2019, and PopSugar's 26 Brand New Thrillers That Will Give You Chills This Winter. So what am I missing? This didn’t read like a thriller to me at all, even though there was definitely an unexplained death guiding the book’s plot. To me, it read more like a contemporary fiction novel that focused on the relationships between members of the Goodwin Family: the son, the daughter, their spouses, and the mom (mother-in-law) and dad. I agree 100% with Liane Moriarty who said that Sally Hepworth "writes compelling stories with characters you care about." But a thriller? I’m not seeing it.
The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth is written from the perspectives of Diana, the mother-in-law, and Lucy, the daughter-in-law and jumps back and forth between “the past” and “the present.” Diana and her husband have a significant net worth, but due to Diana’s life philosophy, she insists that her children make their own way in life without financial help from their parents. When her son asks for help with a down payment on a modest home in a good neighborhood, Diana says no. When her daughter asks for help to pay for extremely expensive fertility treatments, Diana says no. When she is found dead, everyone in the family seems to have had a motive to kill her.
For the first half of the book I nearly forgot there was an unexplained death that we were supposed to be curious about. We were learning a lot about the backstories of each of the characters (part of that development of “characters you care about” that Liane Moriarty mentioned.) With the expectation of a thriller, I really thought it would be more of a page-turner, more suspense. With that being said, I did really enjoy reading it. Perhaps if I had gone into it thinking I was reading a contemporary fiction book, then I would have LOVED it. It is always about expectation vs. reality isn’t it? It is a good book, I can see why it is getting praise. Would I put it on a list of best thrillers? Probably not.