IT'S one thing, in a fit of long-simmering, spur-of-the-moment frustration, to wish one’s mother-in-law dead; it’s quite another to learn that it’s actually happened.
When Lucy first embarked on a relationship with workmate and now-husband Oliver Goodwin in suburban Melbourne a decade earlier she had dreams of forging a wonderfully close and warm connection with his mother. After all, Lucy had long been without a maternal influence of her own, having lived from the age of 13 with her widowed father.
What eventuated, however, was something more akin to a barely functional stand-off between the pair: a brittle tolerance of one another cobbled together by their mutual love of Ollie and, as time wore on, the young couple’s three children. While the rest of Ollie’s family welcomed Lucy into its midst immediately, Diana was coolly detached, showing none of the generosity and graciousness for which she was renowned throughout the community.
But now Diana Goodwin has been found dead – and despite initial suggestions that she may have been terminally ill, police detectives are investigating the incident as a case of homicide.
Who might have had reason to kill this wealthy matriarch: an apparently kind, caring grandmother whose life had been devoted to supporting newly arrived refugees through pregnancy and childbirth in an unfamiliar country?
Recollections of a very public spilling-over of animosity between Lucy and Diana in front of a roomful of witnesses quickly casts suspicion on Lucy – the one person known to have had a likely motive for her murder.
Told from the perspectives of three equally strong-minded, independent women – Lucy, Diana and Ollie’s sister Nellie – The Mother-in-Law explores the complex web of interplay that exists between disparate individuals and generations forced together by the one thing they have in common: Lucy’s husband, Diana’s son and Nellie’s brother.