REVIEW: THE OTHER MOTHER, BY CAROL GOODMAN

 

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 Postpartum 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….

 

My Thoughts: A surreal story, The Other Mother taps into our worst fears: that somehow we will be controlled by others and our lives will no longer be our own.

Husbands with nefarious plans and doctors who are easily turned by others kept me turning pages and wondering if I, too, had been tricked and controlled by this very tale.

I wanted to root for all the female characters, as each, in some way, had a story that felt credible. So which story will we believe?

Just when I thought I couldn’t be more confused, pieces of the puzzle began to click into place. Suddenly everything made a kind of sense, and the twisted elements took us back in time, to the early 1970s…and then carried us forward to the present. Who would finally regain the life that belonged to her? And who has died, while others have lived to share the truth? 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: AFTER BIRTH, BY ELISA ALBERT

51TKfRc-CZL

 

 

 

Ari and Paul are a couple with a new baby, and even though Ari is supposedly working on her dissertation, much of her time is spent with the endless tasks of child care.

In her first person voice, we hear every thought and feeling she has, apparently, and in the form of a very in-your-face rant. Foul-mouthed and irreverent, she is hard to like. But her tough façade seemingly covers the loneliness and isolation she feels.

Her tendency to go on and on, somewhat obsessively, about her C-section and how the blissful experience she had expected was stolen from her, was very off-putting. She had had many experiences in her younger years that come to the forefront when she is going on and on about her many terrible experiences.

Meeting another young mother, Mina Morris, who was in her ninth month when they first encountered one another, was a somewhat positive experience for her. She starts to open up and reach out, even as she also offers some of her own experiences to the other mother.

After Birth spotlights the dark side of birth and parenting, and it is easy to see that Ari must be suffering from postpartum depression…or she is definitely a “glass half empty” person. And while I did empathize with the emotions, the way she chose to wallow in them made her a character I wanted to get away from…and quickly. 3 stars.