William Morrow | March 2018 | 352 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

Carol Goodman's latest release, The Other Mother, is a story about motherhood, love, delusions and madness.

Daphne Marist and Laurel Hobbes are two new mothers who suffer from postpartum depression. The former has intrusive thoughts about harming her baby (which she didn't but the thoughts terrify her) while the latter has a history of depression and mental illness. They knew each other through a supporting group with other women who share the same issue. Their daughters even have the same name - Chloe. Daphne and Laurel hit it off quickly despite their clashing personalities. Daphne is meek while Laurel is attractive and authoritative. Both husbands aren't really supportive given their condition and this has somewhat make them closer despite Laurel's disapproval opinions of Daphne at times. She thinks Daphne has no backbone although she is flattered when Daphne tries to dress and look like her.

Daphne, on the other hand, devises a plan to leave home with Chloe for fear that her husband would deem her unfit to be a mother and appeal for child custody. After seeing an ad for a position of an archivist to a writer, she decides to use Laurel's name for the application. After all, Laurel has the credentials and Daphne sees no harm in imposing as her friend. Tucked in the Catskills, Daphne's new employer's mansion seems like a fairytale with its lush landscaping surrounding it. The only thing that dampen the beauty of it is the mental institution just beyond its border. And Daphne is very much intrigued with Schuyler Bennett, her new employer, as well as the papers she is working on. Daphne's job is to help in organising the paperwork, which consists of Dr. Bennett's (Schuyler's father, who was once the director of the mental institution) records of the patients and his personal journal of the patients' condition. Daphne then become entranced by a particular patient who seems to have borderline personality disorder and soon she finds herself caught up in a labyrinth of deceptions and insanity as reality blurs with madness.

The Other Mother, like its content, was a bumpy ride filled with insanities and confusion. With the story split into three parts with three different voices and their personal journals in between accounting the events that happened at some point in their life, what seems to be an intricate story turns out more like a bewilderment tale of doubts and confusion at times. The first part of the story was the best as it showcase the friendship and struggles between Daphne and Laurel. The events happened in the mental institution was another interesting aspect, but I was kind of bothered by some of the doctors' mentality towards the patients. And most of all, the ending and the truth perplexed me as it seemed a little rushed and too far-fetched to me. Overall the story was promising; the structure of a psychological suspense was there and it would be a great read if the execution was better.

[From the book: Women with postpartum OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) - having intrusive and disturbing thoughts, sometimes about harming their child - are advised NOT to read the first-person stories until after they have recovered.]

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14 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    This one sounds like it has a bit too much going on. Sorry it was disappointing.

  2. jenclair Says:

    I think I'll pass on this one. It doesn't seem as if there will be any light at the end of this tunnel. Thanks for the heads up, Melody.

  3. Kay Says:

    I'm glad you posted this review. I'll likely read this one and had been looking forward to it very much. However, I will say that my enjoyment of Carol Goodman's books that I've read has varied a bit. She does always tell a good Gothic story though. Maybe I just won't rush - perhaps in the summer.

  4. Lark Says:

    I think I might pass on this one, too. But I love your honest reviews! :)

  5. Hmm. That's really too bad it wasn't better. I may give it a go anyway, but I won't be rushing into it.

  6. Melody Says:

    Jenny - Yes, and it had me confused at times.

  7. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - It was not a bad read actually, but I wish the execution was done in a better way. Or perhaps it's just me.

  8. Melody Says:

    Kay - I love her books which have some gothic elements but this one just doesn't. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts when you get to it.

  9. Melody Says:

    Lark - :( It pains me to say it, but I've to be fair and say what I've thought.

  10. Melody Says:

    Wendy - It was an OK read; perhaps I've different expectations.

  11. The Bookworm Says:

    Thanks for the honest review, it sounds like the premise of The Other Mother is good but it didn't quite deliver. That's too bad.

  12. Melody Says:

    Naida - It was promising, just that it confused me at times. Perhaps that's the intention but I didn't really get it.

  13. Iliana Says:

    It sounds like taking on three different narratives in this one book may have been just too much. I have really enjoyed some of Carol Goodman's earlier novels and part of me wants to give this one a go anyway but I think this is one I would have to read in book format and not on my Kindle. That way I can go back and forth if I need to! :)

  14. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Yes, I think reading in book format is a good idea, Iliana. I think the downside of an ebook is it's not as convenient as a print copy especially when we want to go back and forth if we want to. I suppose I'd have enjoyed more if I'd read this in a book format instead.

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