‘Other Mother’ goes to dark places

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - NEWS - BY OLINE H. COGDILL

Best-sell­ing au­thor Carol Good­man skill­fully works post­par­tum de­pres­sion into the chill­ing “The Other Mother” that has strong gothic echoes, with nods to Daphne du Mau­rier’s novel “Re­becca” and the film “Gaslight.”

Good­man well struc­tures “The Other Mother” with an un­re­li­able nar­ra­tor and de­tails that, on the sur­face, seem or­di­nary but mis­con­strued can be­come sin­is­ter.

Daphne Marist be­came fast friends with Lau­rel Hobbes in a sup­port group for women suf­fer­ing from post­par­tum de­pres­sion. The two have more in com­mon than a shared mood dis­or­der and liv­ing near each other in Westch­ester, New York. Both named their daugh­ters Chloe, al­though Lau­rel uses an um­laut, both are mar­ried to older, con­trol­ling men, both of­ten feel pow­er­less and are a bit obsessive. Soon both are dress­ing alike and even carry sim­i­lar di­a­per bags.

Then Daphne leaves her home and her hus­band, tak­ing Chloe with her. Daphne has ac­cepted a job as a live-in ar­chiv­ist with chil­dren’s au­thor Schuyler Ben­nett, a near her­mit whose Catskills man­sion bor­ders a psy­chi­atric in­sti­tu­tion. It is a dream job. Schuyler is Daphne’s fa­vorite au­thor and the job in­cludes a small apart­ment and child care for Chloe. The only wrin­kle is that Daphne got the job us­ing Lau­rel’s name and back­ground. While work­ing through Schuyler’s pa­pers, Daphne also be­gins to cat­e­go­rize those of the au­thor’s fa­ther, Mor­ris Ben­nett, a fa­mous psy­chi­a­trist who ran the asy­lum.

Along the way, Daphne be­comes ob­sessed with the case of other young moth­ers who suf­fered from post­par­tum de­pres­sion, in­clud­ing one who is still hos­pi­tal­ized at the in­sti­tu­tion, 45 years af­ter claim­ing she aban­doned her baby.

But is that re­ally what is hap­pen­ing in “The Other Mother?” Good­man keeps the reader off kil­ter as she plays with the iden­tity of the moth­ers and what is re­ally hap­pen­ing, and why. Good­man never delves into flights of fancy but keeps “The Other Mother” grounded in re­al­ity. Each twist is chill­ingly plau­si­ble.

Good­man’s affin­ity for the dark psy­cho­log­i­cal plot ex­cels in “The Other Mother.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.