The Mother-in-Law: Sally Hepworth


Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-in-Law is a suspenseful and multi-layered story of the tense relationship between a wife and her mother-in-law, who has suddenly died of questionable causes.

The Mother-in-Law, Sally Hepworth

Huge thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending over this advanced copy!

Lucy’s mother died when she was a teenager, and so the prospect of a mother-in-law filling that void was very appealing to her. Unfortunately, Ollie’s mother was anything but motherly. Cold and aloof, Diana always left Lucy feeling inept, frustrated, and at times, violent.

Now that Diana is dead, from an apparent but fishy suicide, Lucy questions the nature of the woman she knew. The police are skeptical that her death was a suicide, so they investigate each family member, during which familial secrets regarding money, infertility, and disease come out into the open.

How did Diana die? What could have possibly been her motive for suicide? These questions and more are answered in this suspenseful and juicy family drama.

Content Warning

Please take caution while reading The Mother-in-Law if any of the following topics may trigger you:

  • Self-harm and suicide
  • Death or dying
  • Pregnancy / childbirth
  • Miscarriages
  • Blood

My Thoughts

The Mother-in-Law has a fantastically unique premise with tons of interesting topics interspersed throughout the story. The writing is great and allows you to fly through the book at a speed that will shock you for its over 300 pages. While I wouldn’t necessarily describe this story as a psychological thriller, it is surely suspenseful and leaves space for lots of questions and mystery.

I loved to hate Diana – she is totally unlikable and unemotional. Because the story switches between Diana and Lucy’s perspectives, as well as pre- and post-Diana’s death, you get to really understand each woman’s side of notable moments in the past decade. It is so smart, and equally fascinating, to hear Lucy’s side of a fight and then to understand Diana’s perspective. As they say, there are two sides to every story.

This story touches on so many interesting, if pretty morbid, topics. There’s always a new and alluring piece of information just around the corner, which very successfully propels you through the story quickly. In fact, I stayed up late finishing the book with the mindset of “just one more chapter.”

The Mother-in-Law is a domestic suspense done very well. The drama, while constant, was always meaningful and never burdensome. Reading as this family tries to survive its various issues is intoxicating. If you like family dramas or thrillers, I think you’ll love this book!

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on The Mother-in-Law. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!

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