Saturday, May 12, 2018

Just in Time for Mother's Day Comes a Heartwarming Story About the Joys of Motherhood ... Oh, Wait ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Desperate for a new start away from her controlling husband, Daphne Marist applies for her dream job as a live-in archivist for her favorite novelist—and gets it.  Not only does she know nothing about how to actually perform her duties, but she's also presenting herself with a false name and credentials that do not belong to her.  Sure she can fake it well enough to fool her elderly employer, Daphne heads to the Catskills with her six-month-old daughter, Chloe, in tow.  Waiting for her is a beautiful stone mansion surrounded by a lush landscape that makes the whole scene seem like something out of a fairy tale.  The lovely refuge is exactly what Daphne needs, even if the insane asylum that lurks behind the home sends shivers down her spine.  

As Daphne starts organizing papers for Schuyler Bennett, she becomes immersed in the author's story, especially her connection with the asylum.  In doing so, she's trying to forget her own troubles, the reason why she fled her home in the first place.  Yes, Daphne was diagnosed with Postpartum Mood Disorder after Chloe's birth and yes, it made her forgetful, clingy, even obsessive.  It didn't, however, make her a danger to her infant daughter.  No matter what, Daphne refuses to believe her husband's accusations—she would never hurt Chloe.  Never.  She doesn't know how to interpret the disturbing memory fragments tormenting her mind, but they can't be what they seem to be.  They can't be evidence that she put her own child at risk.  That would be impossible, wouldn't it? 

The longer Daphne is in the Catskills, the more she comes to realize that something did happen before she left.  Something awful.  It's up to her to mine her troubling memory for the truth before she finds herself the newest resident in an asylum that is conveniently close to her new home ...

Just in time for Mother's Day comes a heartwarming novel about the joys of motherhood ... oh, wait,  this is not that book!  As is indicated by its title, The Other Mother—the newest Gothic thriller by Carol Goodman—is indeed about motherhood.  It's about all the uncertainty, guilt, anxiety, fear, and fierce, mind-warping love that comes along with bearing a child, especially for the first time.  While all of those emotions are perfectly natural, this wouldn't be a Goodman book if those feelings weren't twisted into something decidedly more sinister than just a new mother's paranoia.  Goodman uses these heightened emotions to create a story that is chilling and can't-look-away compelling.  It's the kind of novel that keeps the reader constantly off-kilter, never knowing what is real and what isn't.  In doing so, however, the plot gets confusing and a bit contrived.  Still, it's a tense, twisty thriller that will keep you engrossed until the very end.  The Other Mother isn't my favorite novel by this author, but it's definitely another enthralling story that kept me turning pages long past bedtime.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a half dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Other Mother from the generous folks at HarperCollins.  Thank you!

11 comments:

  1. I like Carol Goodman but I'm not sure that I'd like this particular novel. I think I might pass on this one.

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    1. I haven't loved all of hers, but there are several that I have particularly enjoyed. This one wasn't as good as others of hers.

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  2. I agree that if the author is Carol Goodman, creepy is involved - and usually the woods, dark and deep, some kind of 'haunted house' vibe, and craziness. I'm looking forward to trying this one. She recently won The Mary Higgins Clark Award (given at the Edgar's) for THE WIDOW'S HOUSE. I like that one a lot.

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    1. Yep! This one has all the traditional hallmarks of a Carol Good man novel. It's not nearly as good as THE WIDOW'S HOUSE, though. That's probably my favorite of hers.

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  3. Every mother's nightmare; that we hurt our own child. This one might be too creepy for me :-)

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    1. It's unsettling, that's for sure. And, yes, it plays on a mother's worst fears ...

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  4. These types sure are popular right now. I can never decide if I should try them or not. They’re so hit and miss for me. I do gave a Goodman on my shelf somewhere though. Can’t remember which one though.

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    1. I know and I still love reading them! I don't know why -- I'm sure it something disturbing about me that I like them so much. LOL.

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  5. I also found this engaging, but having finished it, I can't say I liked it very much. While it was hard to put down, I also found it unbelievable and over-the-top, with way too many coincidences and cases of mistaken identity. It's interesting to me that it could be such a gripping read anyway :)

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    1. The plot definitely gets contrived in places. Parts of it seemed particularly far-fetched, but I liked it overall.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I'm headed over to check out your blog right now ...

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  6. Oh I need this one! I love the pairing of unreliable narrator and the research into the asylum. It sounds like a great read if not exactly a perfect Mother's Day read!

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