The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Mother-in-Law

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: April 23rd, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Mystery

Where you can find The Mother-in-Law: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquisitely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law. 

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.
The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation. 
Who could possibly want Diana dead? 
Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?

With Lucy’s secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.


My review:

Lucy and Diana’s relationship has been tumultuous since they met. Diana has always kept Lucy at arm’s length, never letting her get close. In turn, Lucy imagined that Diana thought that she wasn’t good enough for her son. Their relationship is kept at a friendly stalemate.

Then came the day when the police showed up at Lucy and Oliver’s house. The day that they found out that Diana was dead with a suicide note near her body. But an autopsy shows that she was suffocated. And then there is the shocking news that Diana changed her will. Who could have wanted Diana dead?


A word of warning to those that think this book is going to be a psychological thriller. It isn’t. Not even close. It is a mystery, though. I did think that the mystery part of this book was well written. The author did a fantastic job at keeping who killed Diana under wraps. I did think it was another person until the chapter where the murder was seen through the killer’s eyes, who the killer was surprised me. Why that person killed Diana didn’t.

I loved watching Lucy and Diana’s relationship evolve. While Diana was standoffish at first, I did wonder how she felt about Lucy as the book went on. My questions about her feelings were answered when the author started writing the chapters from her perspective. The author did a fantastic job of showing how complex a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship was. It also showed how a lousy relationship could turn good.

When Lucy was first introduced in the book, she rubbed me the wrong way. She wanted an instant, loving relationship with Diana. Which I thought was ridiculous. She read into situations with Diana the wrong way and assumed things. But, it was after that confrontation at the hospital that I started to like her. My liking of her grew with what she did at Tom’s funeral. The secret she carried about Diana was a huge one. In the end, though, Lucy was the one who kept Diana’s dreams alive.

I did think that Diana came across as cool, calm and not that interested in Lucy. Her words during the dress fitting were cruel. But once the author started writing from Diana’s POV, I understood why she acted the way she did. I did think that she overstepped her bounds a couple of times (I mean, who brings a raw chicken to a nursing, new mother???). But her heart was in the right place.

Diana’s relationship with her children was odd. She did love them but believed in tough love. Her kids were not allowed to borrow any money (for anything). I do think that her tough love approach put a big rift in her relationship with her kids.

The end of the book was shocking. I was surprised at who killed Diana and why. But, at the same time, my heart broke for that person. The very end of the book, which takes place ten years after the fact, was eye-opening. I liked seeing what happened to the main characters after the story ended.


I gave The Mother-in-Law a 4-star rating. This is a gripping mystery that explores family bonds and secrets. The characters were relatable. The plot lines were well written. My only issue with the book was with who killed Diana and why. But, it was more of a personal bitch than anything. It didn’t affect my rating.

I would give The Mother-in-Law an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is mild violence. There is language. There are triggers. They would be the h of a parent, death of a spouse, forced adoption, ALS, assisted suicide. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Mother-in-Law. I would also reccomend this book to family and friends.


I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Mother-in-Law.

All opinion stated in this review of The Mother-in-Law are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**


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5 thoughts on “The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth”

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