Primary Genre(s): Fiction, Mystery
Published: 23 April 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
Page count: 340
Ending: Very Good
Would I recommend it: Yes
Commission Link: https://amzn.to/30eoTfx
My rating: ★★★★☆
Summary from Goodreads
From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.
That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…
First off, I promise I didn’t time this purposefully to be posted on Mother’s Day! This was just the last book I read and the next review to write. So, it may seem to be an odd choice, but have some fun and enjoy my review about a “so-called” evil mother-in-law! Here are my pros and cons:
- The book is told from alternating points-of-view (primarily Lucy and Diana’s POV) and switches between the past to present. The alternating POVs and timelines seemed a bit choppy at first, but eventually melded together nicely.
- All of the background stories, particularly for Diana, were very well done. Diana is clearly the “bad guy” in this story – at least from the viewpoint of her family – but as a reader you find out details about why she is the way she is. The fact that she never really explains to her family why she behaves the way she does is the truly sad part about the book. No one understands Diana. Right or wrong, she has values that are solidly formed from her life experience. She, however, doesn’t share the reasons for her actions or explain her values very well to her family. I felt sorry for Diana and I felt sorry for her family. The way the story is written you almost feel a bit voyeuristic – you get to know the details that others in the story do not know. This in turn makes the reader empathize with all the characters. At least I did. There are always two sides to every story.
- I just kept thinking to myself – I wish they would just talk to each other! The walls these characters put up around themselves – particularly Diana – were high and strong. Sadly, those walls blocked all chances for communication, affection, and understanding within the family. I liked the way the author wrote Diana – she wasn’t really wrong with regard to anything she said or did. She was just wrong for never explaining herself, even when asked.
- I’m feeling a bit repetitive here, but I think the author did a really good job with the Diana character. You will really dislike her, but you also feel sorry for her. It is absolutely great character development when you love and hate a character at the same time.
- I did not expect the ending. Kudos to the author on that as well, because I tend to figure out the plot in most books I read.
- Some of the story felt a little bit preachy to me.
- I liked the back and forth POVs and the various time periods, but I would have liked a little more story about relationship between Diana and her daughter-in-law. I just felt like I didn’t quite get enough… perhaps there should have been a scene where Lucy tried to get Diana to talk about her past or something? There were opportunities for this, but Lucy usually backed off when she was around Diana in general.
I really liked this book, but it was truly heartbreaking when all is said and done. It is terrible to watch families suffer because someone hides something or refuses to engage. This book is a great example of what can happen in that situation.
I said at the beginning that maybe this was an odd book to review on Mother’s Day, but then again maybe it is actually perfect. Go talk to your mom or mother-in-law today, especially if there is tension or misunderstandings between you. I’m guessing at least in some cases, like in this book, there are two sides to every story.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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