The Daughter-in-Law Syndrome delves into the complicated relationship that is causing much friction between Edna Deane and her daughter-in-law Arla. In addition it focuses on the sometimes tumultuous partnership between Arla and her husband Ric.
Arla Deane sometimes likens her marriage to undergoing daily psychological warfare. Husband Ric will never voice an opinion, and puts his mother Edna up high on a pedestal. Arla is sick of always feeling that she comes in at only second best to her mother-in-law, who much to Arla's fury is never told anything by Ric or his sisters that she would not want to hear.
This novel explores the husband/wife, mother/son, and mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships. After 28 years of marriage, Arla, the daughter-in-law, is at the end of her tether and persuades a reluctant Ric to accompany her for marriage guidance. As they look back over their lives with counselor Toni Beecher, Arla slowly comes to realize her own failings, and eventually discovers the long-hidden reason why Ric will never utter a cross word to his mother.
Also adding to Arla's stress is the fact that her son Stuart will soon be marrying Ria, a girl whom Arla feels is just looking for a free ride. Arla is convinced that Ria will be no asset to Stuart at all; her new daughter-in-law just wants to be a mother and has no intention of ever working again once the babies start to arrive. After visiting Stuart and Ria for Sunday lunch, Arla is convinced that her son is making the biggest mistake of his life....
Would you consider the audio edition of The Daughter-in-Law Syndrome to be better than the print version?
I don't know. I haven't read the print version.
I received this audio book as a prize, a few days ago, and decided to give it a try and see how it works out. From the very beginning, I was captivated by the story, and couldn’t stop listening. I listened way into the night about poor Arla who underwent a tug-of-war relationship with her mother-in-law, and sisters -in-law that lasted twenty-eight years. For twenty eight years, she was not accepted by her husband’s family, and it seemed that her husband remained quite neutral about it all, not taking sides, and not giving her support.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Daughter-in-Law Syndrome?
When she too became a mother-in-law herself to Ria, and things started to change. She saw herself almost falling into the same pattern as Edna, but Ria’s sunny disposition, and refusal to be put off, plus the therapy, of course, help her to become the mother-in-law to Ria that she did not experience.
She was forced to seek therapy to better understand her situation, and to figure out what to do. A marriage where a woman stays home to bring up the kids, usually leaves the woman with no financial power of her own. Arla confesses to the counselor Toni, that her fear of divorce was based on the fact that she has no money of her own. He mother-in-law, Edna, and sisters-in-law, Val, and Jan, and to some extent Ric her husband, put her through hell.
Which character – as performed by Wendy Anne Darling – was your favorite?
Definitely Ria's character. She was able to overlook, and underplay the initial brush off by Arla, and pushed ahead for acceptance, and to ignore the existing tension between Arla and the rest of the family to pull the whole family back together.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Yes, when Ric, for the first time came in defense of the Arla against his sisters, as well as when Edna finally owned up to her bad treatment of Arla.
Any additional comments?
Reading an audio book has its pros and cons. I was in the middle of the book before I could follow the names, and the parts they played. Unlike a physical book, that I can turn back and check on the spelling of the names, with this audio book, my first, I went by the sound of the names. Whether I spelt them right is yet to be seen. I have since gone back and corrected the spellings of the names.
This was a great story, told with such insight that many women will relate to it. It is a well known story, beautifully told, with a great story arc that started on high tension, which gradually petered off. A good story, if I may say so, but I do prefer physical books.