Published by William Morrow on March 27, 2018
Source: the publisher
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“An atmospheric and harrowing tale, richly literary in complexity but ripe with all the crazed undertones, confusions, and forebodings inherent in the gothic genre. Recommend this riveting, du Maurier–like novel to fans of Jennifer McMahon.” — Booklist (starred review)
From the author of the internationally bestselling The Lake of Dead Languages comes a gripping novel about madness, motherhood, love, and trust.
When Daphne Marist and her infant daughter, Chloe, pull up the gravel drive to the home of Daphne’s new employer, it feels like they’ve entered a whole new world. Tucked in the Catskills, the stone mansion looks like something out of a fairy tale, its lush landscaping hiding the view of the mental asylum just beyond its border. Daphne secured the live-in position using an assumed name and fake credentials, telling no one that she’s on the run from a controlling husband who has threatened to take her daughter away.
Daphne’s new life is a far cry from the one she had in Westchester where, just months before, she and her husband welcomed little Chloe. From the start, Daphne tries to be a good mother, but she’s plagued by dark moods and intrusive thoughts that convince her she’s capable of harming her own daughter. When Daphne is diagnosed with Post Partum Mood Disorder, her downward spiral feels unstoppable—until she meets Laurel Hobbes.
Laurel, who also has a daughter named Chloe, is everything Daphne isn’t: charismatic, sophisticated, fearless. They immediately form an intense friendship, revealing secrets to one another they thought they’d never share. Soon, they start to look alike, dress alike, and talk alike, their lives mirroring one another in strange and disturbing ways. But Daphne realizes only too late that being friends with Laurel will come at a very shocking price—one that will ultimately lead her to that towering mansion in the Catskills where terrifying, long-hidden truths will finally be revealed….
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Other Mother by Carol Goodman is one crazy ride and I was hooked from the first page. This is the story of a new mother, Daphne, that befriends another new mother, Laurel, at a support group. Both of these women have been dealing with thoughts that they’re uncomfortable with, certainly along the lines of postpartum depression. Rather than thinking that the support group has been helpful to them, they believe that they are improving since they have found one another. Certainly the two do provide support for one another, but neither of the women are actually well enough to help the other along through their postpartum issues – and they are both dealing with quite intense issues.
They suddenly grow distrustful of one another and of their significant others, and things get a little bit crazy. (Do yourself a favor and go into this as unknowing as you can.) I loved the distrust and disarray this caused with this group of people in terms of this story and I was able to connect to this from my own experiences in my work with women’s health and my own experiences postpartum (although not to this extreme).
Things really took a suspenseful turn for me when one (or both?) of these women begin mirroring the life (lives?) of the other one. I mean: dressing similarly, wearing the same hairstyle, even going as far as to tell stories that actually happened to the other friend. And this happened over and over, and it wasn’t even behavior that these women were being secretive about. Whoa! Considering that the narrator(s) were already unreliable due to their underlying issues, it is not the easiest thing for me to realize exactly who is the “original” and who is the “copycat” when the mirroring happened, but I absolutely loved this part of the story.
I actually didn’t know that women going through certain postpartum issues sometimes will mirror others in this way (I never worked with anyone suffering to this extreme), but the author does talk about this in the beginning of the book. I think she folds this into the story is a super-compelling way and it probably is my favorite detail of the entire story. I think it totally kept the suspense level on high because there were times when I thought that Daphne was telling the story for pages and pages and pages, then I began to second guess myself and question whether or not it as actually Laurel doing the narrating — and vice versa!
There are some big twists in here that left my jaw on the floor, and there were some twists that were a little less surprising – this is pretty standard fare for me in terms of suspense thrillers. I did enjoy the big twist that came at about the halfway point. Totally wasn’t expecting it. This story already moved at a pretty brisk pace to me, and this reveal kept things going because after finding THAT out, I just needed to know more.
I get that postpartum issues are significant and I understand the gravity of them 100%, but on a light note: this story was super fun to read. Sometimes I think the stories that are rooted in the more serious things can be the most fun. The Other Mother is definitely one of those for me. This is an atmospheric story that I found to be the most fun in the build-up and the telling, although the reveal is a win too and not a surprise to me at all given how sneaky some of these characters are.