One of my favorite lines from my book, Stepmothers Anonymous, (which unfortunately was cut in one of the edits made to it) was when Abbey, the titular stepmother, lamented her relationship with her mother-in-law:
“Only mothers-in-law had worse reputations than stepmothers and it seemed Grace was hell-bent on proving the naysayers right.”
I thought about this last night as I was writing The Pledge. As with the other books I’ve written, the female protagonist was struggling with her relationship with her mother-in-law. Why? Is this just a good plot device or fact?
On a personal level, my relationship with my mother-in-law is not perfect, but after twenty-one years of being in each other’s lives, we are comfortable with one another. I call her mom and she treats me like a daughter. She is the only grandmother my children have and I show her the respect she’s due, dealing with any nuances she has. We’ve had our arguments and disagreements over the years, but for the most part, we’re good.
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum – I have a friend who ended up getting divorced because of her mother-in-law. I don’t believe there is an exception or rule to this – it’s just a crap shoot. You have to deal with what you’re dealt because other factors and people are involved in this type of relationship – which then leaves authors like me to develop their own interpretation based on the story.
In The Pledge, the relationship between Tamar and Alit is not central to the tale, but it is Alit’s influence on Judah that drives the plot; i.e. because she is so protective of her boys, she is not going to let anyone do them wrong – not Tamar and ultimately, not Judah either. We don’t know this yet in the story, but it will be revealed later.
However, when we get to Whatsoever You Desire, the story of Boaz and Ruth, we find a relationship so deep and personal, Ruth is willing to leave her family behind and follow her mother-in-law. That’s definitely not the norm, but still, it’s a story worth reading…and one that redeems my portrayals of mother-in-laws. This book will be out later this year, but in the meantime, you can read about the relationship between Tamar and Alit.