Amy’s life is close to perfect – two lovely daughters, a wonderful husband and she’s queen bee in her circle of soccer moms. She feels content, like she’s finally put some distance between herself and the terrible events of long ago.
The only fly in the ointment is Charlotte, a recent arrival to this affluent suburban community. The shameless way she dresses, the way the men look at her… it’s not right, she’s just not the kind of person they want around here.
Amy spearheads a drive to exclude Charlotte, to make it clear to her that she’s not welcome here. Infuriatingly, Charlotte doesn’t seem to care… And when her daughter joins the soccer team there’s just no getting away from her.
But Amy knows from bitter experience the kind of trouble a woman like Charlotte can bring. And there is no way on earth that her girls are ever going to be exposed to anything like that. The solution is clear – Charlotte has to go. No matter what it takes.
The Good Mother is a domestic thriller by Cathryn Grant, told from the perspectives of three mothers in the suburbs—Amy, Rachel and Charlotte. None of them are exactly pleasant; between them a combination of paranoid, self-loathing and aggressively confrontational. These women are hard work, and while experiencing the story from their points of view provides a measure of understanding, it would be a stretch to call any of them likable. That said, they’re certainly distinctive, with unique voices and neuroses. And, since a lot of the drama of the story hinges on not being able to tell which of the women is going to crack and to what extent, it works best with the reader left in doubt as to how far to trust them.
Tension mounts as the story progresses, as the protagonists become variously more erratic in their behaviour and more suspicious of the people around them. Grant’s writing is smooth and accomplished, it tends slightly to repetition but it builds nicely and gives you a chance to think about how the pieces will come together as the characters slowly spiral out of control.
There are a lot of interesting relationships in the book, the friendships between the main women and their relationships with their husbands are complex and nuanced and they develop throughout the story. I did wish we got a better sense of the children in the story and their relationships with their protagonist parents, particularly considering the book’s title. Charlotte’s relationship with her daughter Meadow is explored a little, and it adds a nice depth to Charlotte’s perspective chapters, particularly as the conflict between her and Amy escalates to truly concerning levels.
At certain points in the plot I wondered whether all of the various threads were going to come together, there seemed to be a lot of subplots on the go with no clear way to tie them all in to each other, but (without giving anything away), Grant does manage to bring everything to a single point in time for the ending. There are also some twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing right up to the final pages.
First review of 2020! It’s an exciting moment. If you want to recommend any books for reading and/or reviewing this year, give me a shout! You can contact me through the form on my editing page.
Massive thanks to Emma Welton for giving me the chance to get in on the Damp Pebbles Blog Tour! (Check her out on Twitter!) And if you want to know more about the author of The Good Mother, here’s where you can find her online: