The Stay-at-Home Mother by Nicole Trope is a highly recommended psychological thriller set in Sydney, Australia.
Terry, Andrea and three-year-old Jack move into a run down house
in an expensive neighborhood. Andrea is very pregnant and not
pleased with this turn of events. They lost their home due to
Terry's gambling problems, so moving into this house, a
fixer-upper, is thanks to Andrea's father who knew the person
buying it was willing to rent it for awhile to them. Andrea is
less than thrilled, but she feels she is stuck in her current
situation and that Terry is going to try.
At the beginning Andrea is a bit distrustful when the neighbor across the street, Gabby, reaches out to her in friendship, but soon she is becoming a part of Andrea's life. Gabby is busy with her teenage son, Flynn, but is always available for tea and snacks with Andrea and Jack. She even pulled out some old dinosaurs Flynn used to play with for Jack. Gabby has offered to babysit anytime Andrea needs help. What young, exhausted, pregnant mother doesn't need this kind of support, especially when Andrea is suspicious that Terry is gambling again.
The writing is very good and the plot is fast moving, entertaining,
twisty, and surprising. Some of the twists are easily guessed and others
are truly surprising. There are several strange, odd occurrences going
on and so suspicions and tension will rise while reading. You will be on
alert for something to happen, and things do happen, which only results
in raising the tension some more. The opening of the narrative will
definitely grab your attention and keep you glued to the pages for
The narrative alternates between the point-of-view of Andrea and Gabby. Both women are complex, interesting characters, and both of them are hiding secrets from each other. Andrea is keeping her husband's addiction and how it has ravaged their family's security, financially and physically a secret. Gabby's addiction to social media where she posts about her son was an interesting character trait, but the more engaging trait is that it becomes clear quite that she is a very unreliable and unbalanced narrator.
You may have to suspend disbelief a time or two, but The Stay-at-Home Mother is a great psychological thriller that most readers will enjoy start to finish.