A Mother’s Confession by Kelly Rimmer comes with a subtitle on the book cover: “A heartbreaking story with a breathtaking twist.” Readers logically expect the breathtaking twist will show up at the story’s conclusion, and that is what happens. What happens throughout the story is a slow, inexorable twisting by several principal characters that might cause readers to hold their breath at many story points. Most readers will suspect that nothing in this 354-page novel is going to end well. It will be worth the reader’s time to stay with the story to the conclusion to find out if the suspicion is proven right. The story is not a page-turner, but it is seductive. Portents of adverse outcomes draw the reader along to each successive level.
Here is a complex story of domestic abuse. If the book were to be adopted as a book club read, a first main question might be, “How many types of domestic abuse are going on in this story?” David certainly abused his wife, Olivia. David’ mother, Ivy, suspected but never admitted that her perfect son David abused her daughter in law, Olivia. Ivy chose first to ignore her suspicions, then evidence, and finally accusations by Olivia, that perfect son David was less than ideal.
Ivy had also ignored teachers’ warnings when they had reported David’s fondness for causing pain to Rachael, a kindergarten classmate. Even when Ivy saw David physically abusing Rachael at his sixth birthday party, she knew that perfect David was acting out as boys his age were prone to do.
Ivy had puppies around the house when David was young, and David told her that he thought his mom liked puppies more than him. Ivy denied it, of course, and was sure that the crushed skull of one of her puppies was an accident, just as David claimed.
In high school, there was a long-term relationship with Jennie. Ivy overheard tense conversations between David and Jennie before their breakup. David reluctantly informed his mother that he was forced to abandon Jennie; she was no longer suitable. When Ivy received a call from Andrea, Jennie’s mother, the story was a bit different. Jennie had told David to leave her alone. David had almost turned into a stalker as he ceaselessly sent notes to Jennie. Andrea wanted it stopped. Ivy denied it happened.
Rimmer’s characterizations of Ivy and David trace the evolution of an abuser. Ivy was an enabler as she refused to acknowledge her son was less than perfect. Ivy’s husband Wyatt was a further enabler for a different reason. Wyatt was happy if Ivy had dinner ready for him at the same time each night. Ivy had her job, to stay at home and take care of the house. Wyatt would provide the money so that Ivy could devote herself to Wyatt and the motherly needs of David. Any deficiencies of David reported to him by Ivy were just the typical growing pains of a boy. Later problems David had in his marriage with Olivia were problems for the married couple to solve. Occasional evidence of excessive discipline was not for him or Ivy to worry about. Is this a type of abuse of Ivy by Wyatt? A book club might adopt this issue as question #2.
This story takes place in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Not only do they know, but some residents take as a responsibility to channel information in a direction where it will do the most good. The town postman delivers some mail intended for David and Olivia to the home of Ivy and Wyatt. David’s parents (Ivy) could deal with some issues better than Olivia. There was no reason to upset David.
There is a lot of suspense and many well-concealed event outcomes in this well-written novel. Not my usual reading genre, I gave the story five Amazon stars. On sale by Amazon for USD 3.99, it is available on Kindle Unlimited as a free read.
I look forward to reading more stories by this author in my newly discovered genre of Women’s Literary Fiction.