The Other Mother by Carol Goodman
eBook review copy; 352 pages
The Other Mother by Carol Goodman is a highly recommended Gothic tale of motherhood and madness.
Daphne Marist meets her best friend, Laurel Hobbes, at a Westchester
support group for new mothers with postpartum depression. The two women
both have daughters named Chloe and both are married to controlling
older men. They quickly become close friends and soon Daphne is going to
Laurel's gym, visiting her hair stylist, and wearing similar clothes.
While Laurel seems to suddenly be in a downward spiral, and her husband
confides in Daphne that she is mentally ill, Daphne's husband, Peter,
seems intent on still questioning her own mental stability and fitness
as a parent.
Daphne takes her infant daughter, Chloe, and secretly leaves her husband
and home. Assuming Laurel's identity and credentials, she accepts a job
under Laurel's name as a live-in archivist for Schuyler
Bennett, an author whose Catskills' mansion borders the grounds of a
institution where her father, Dr. Bennett, was once the director. Daphne
tells no one her true identity and tries to involve herself in her job
while piecing together what has been happening to her and uncovering
secrets found in Bennett's papers.
The Other Mother is presented in three parts and includes
excerpts from several different journals along with Daphne's
first-person narrative. Daphne's thoughts clearly make her an unreliable
narrator; you can't tell if she is having a mental break with reality
or if there is some underhanded plot to make her think she is mentally
ill and has lost touch with reality. Clearly, both husbands are
controlling jerks, but is Daphne unwell?
Goodman presents a very twisty plot of domestic suspense brimming with
unreliable narrators, tangled
identities, and dark motives where secrets are slowly uncovered.
Daphne's character is developed, but since she is also unreliable and
suffering from postpartum OCD. She is full of doubt and confusion. The
writing is quite good, but the big twist at the end left me shaking my
head. And, no spoilers, but there is a certain point where I kept
thinking a very simple blood test should have been done and would have
answered a vital question. 3.5
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.