When Allison Montgomery’s beloved father-in-law and long-time confidant passes away, her mother-in-law, Margaret, ‘temporarily’ moves in. From rearranging the furniture and taking over the kitchen, to undermining and embarrassing Allie at every turn, including funding her daughter’s escape, throwing a hissy fit at the mall, and publicly equating Allie’s glass of Chardonnay to full blown alcoholism, Margaret turns Allie’s life upside down causing her to bounce between a sincere desire to support her grieving mother-in-law and an intense urge to simply push her out of the nearest window.
Feeling annoyed, trapped and even a little childish, Allie struggles to avoid a complete meltdown with help from her fearless and audacious best friend, a plan for reinventing herself and enjoying a second act, and, yes, a few glasses of Chardonnay. Along the way, Allie discovers the reasons behind Margaret’s attitude toward her all these years. Does it help? Maybe…
The premise for this novel intrigued me as I have always been fascinated by the relationships between family, especially when marriage occurs. You are thrown together with people who you may or may not have chosen to be around.
Allie has always had a good relationship with her father-in-law, George but, when he passes away, her mother-in-law, Margaret moves into her home for a while.
It’s clear from the outset that these two women should not be sharing a space. Haha. Allie behaves in a way that I feel is totally relatable and I cheered when she stood up for herself. However, Margaret is also going through a bad time in her life so it was hard to just dismiss her as difficult. There is more to Margaret’s behaviour than Allie realises.
I liked the character and relationship development between Allie and Margaret that occurs throughout the book, as they possibly begin to understand each other. What happens is something I will leave you to find out.
Hank, Samantha and Cameron are great (I especially loved the bond Cameron and Allie shared,) and Val was also brilliant. I feel like there could be a story with her as a central character? I feel her story isn’t done yet.
This book successfully explores the family dynamic and how it can be wonderful one moment and bat crazy the next. That is life.
It also explores themes around mid-life crisis and how it is never too late to change the things in your life that are no longer working – the things that no longer give you joy.
The style of writing is effortless and I was immediately pulled into Allie’s story. I loved the fact that she was writing to George. It allowed him to still be a part of the story.
This book examines the life of a 40 something woman perfectly. It’s honest, has a great humour running throughout and has a lot of heart.
I loved it.
P.S: Thank you to my mother-in-law Sara for being nothing like Margaret. I got very lucky indeed.
(Thank you to Hannah Hargrave and Netgalley for the advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.)
About Carolyn Clarke:
And Then There’s Margaret is her first novel.
She has been an ESL teacher for over sixteen years and has co-authored several articles and resources with Cambridge University Press, MacMillan Education and her award-winning blog ESL Made Easy.
She lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner, Tony, her two daughters and a bulldog, Sophie.
Say hello to Carolyn via Twitter.
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.