And Then There's Margaret

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Pub Date 21 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 29 Sep 2022

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Marriage and midlife can be difficult.But when you add a controlling, manipulative and self-absorbed mother-in-law into the mix, things can get worse—much worse. Toxic even.

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…

Marriage and midlife can be difficult.But when you add a controlling, manipulative and self-absorbed mother-in-law into the mix, things can get worse—much worse. Toxic even.

When Allison...

A Note From the Publisher

Carolyn Clarke is founder and curator of Henlit Central, a blog focused on 'life and lit' for women over 40. 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 on her award-winning blog ESL Made Easy. She lives in Toronto, Canada with Tony, her two daughters, and bulldog, Sophie.

Carolyn Clarke is founder and curator of Henlit Central, a blog focused on 'life and lit' for women over 40. And Then There's Margaret is her first novel. She has been an ESL teacher...

Advance Praise

2022 Indie Book Awards Finalist - Chick Lit (Fiction)

2022 Maxy Awards Winner - Literary & Humor

"And Then There's Margaret by Carolyn Clarke is a captivating debut with a strong appeal for fans of literary and Women's fiction, a story that explores the relationship between two women as they navigate life after a painful loss." -The Book Commentary

"(F)unny and sharp...An often entertaining story of a middle-aged protagonist who finds a new connection with her in-law and a new lease on life." -Kirkus Reviews

"Rife with witty banter, Carolyn Clarke's debut laugh-out-loud family dramedy, And Then There's Margaret feels like a much beloved night out with friends. -ChickLit Cafe

"It's a well-written story with crisp, clear dialog that engages you from the start..." -Readers' Favorite 

2022 Indie Book Awards Finalist - Chick Lit (Fiction)

2022 Maxy Awards Winner - Literary & Humor

"And Then There's Margaret by Carolyn Clarke is a captivating debut with a strong appeal for fans of...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781684339938
PRICE $5.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 43 members

Featured Reviews

If you're anything like me, your first reaction to "meeting" Allison/Allie Montgomery was, "Whoa!" as you took a virtual step backward. As mother-in-laws go, Margaret could model for the MIL from, well, you know where, but Allie isn't perfect, either. She's stressed, feeling the pressure of aging and seems to be worried about, well, almost everything. Her anxiety is off the top of the meter much of the time and she tends to react to others negatively, no matter how minute the interaction. Her immediate reaction to the gym greeter she dubs "Gwyneth" is telling.

She's anxious about her job, husband, children, and, well, even if she's doing right by her dog. Then, things get worse. Her father-in-law, who seems to have been her rock in rocky times, dies. Mother-in-law Margaret will be moving in with the family for a time. Margaret, who always seems to find fault and has never seemed to like her. Both Allie's anxiety levels and some hilarity result. Despite the tensions within the home, Allie perseveres, even if it means pulling the covers over her head and pretending to be ill or hiding in the closet to avoid an encounter with Margaret. And, jealousy? Yep, Allison is human, with all the quirks, failings, hopes, and fears we all harbor, all magnified by the situation as Margaret rearranges furniture, snipes at Allie's clothing and habits, interferes with her daughter, and creates scene after scene.

Despite the negatives, which made it difficult for my more laid-back personality to feel really connected to Allie, I did wind up finding her a sympathetic character. I think, at least if I didn't have to be in her proximity for any long period of time, we might even be friends. Otherwise, her anxiety levels would wear me out. As for Margaret, just when you begin to think there is no hope for this relationship, something changes. Allie begins to see Margaret for what she is, pros and cons, and better understands the why of the treatment she's endured for so long. Allie even finds new purpose in life.

Nope, not telling how this miracle happens. It's a slow process with both Margaret's overbearing personality and Allie's more needy, visibly anxious and stressed one evolving as the book goes along. Remember, first appearances aren't always the right ones. While this book may not be for everyone, particularly anyone triggered by other's anxieties, it was an interesting twist on the MIL/DIL relationship. Kudos to first time novelist Carolyn Clarke for bringing these complex, evolving personalities to life.

Thanks #NetGalley and #BlackRoseWriting for giving me this peek into Allison/Allie's life.

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I enjoyed this book ….. which for me centres around grief and how it affects people differently . Allison and husband Hank are themselves dealing with the loss of Hanks father George who Allison was very close to and in turn dealing with Margaret mother in law from hell….. or is she . Margaret seems to be getting on life without her beloved George in the only way she knows how focusing on Hank and his family and firmly gets her feet under the family table … Allison and Margaret have a very strained relationship and thinks seem to go from bad to worse . Grief - relationships - families and forgiveness this book has it all

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The mother-in-law is the main character in this book....or is she? Is she all that bad? Is she? The protagonist can't get along with her mother-in-law at all...nothing she does is right (the protagonist). Her husband does not seem to be a strong character...this is a book about women...with the male figures in the background. Will the mother-in-law live with them after the dad dies? Where will they put her? How will they get along? Will she interfere continually? This is a quick read with quirky characters. The book was sent to me by Netgalley for review, and it is one I might want to read case I missed something the first time.

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And Then There's Margaret is a joy of a book, I absolutely loved it. A few years ago I would have thought that Margaret was a bit (a lot!) exaggerated but having joined Mumsnet I am now fully aware that there really are mother's in law who do behave in this manner. How Allie didn't slap her down more often I don't understand.
The plot was believable and entertaining and the characters were relateable , a great book.

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I wanted to hate this book when I started reading about the things Margret had done, but I glad I read the whole story. I can not imagine having a mother in law acting like she did and not say anything. I did feel sorry for poor George but I’m glad Allie had a great relationship with him. Hank, he needed to grow a pair but I understand his situation.

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I found this to be a light, enjoyable read. The relationship between Allie and Margaret seems a little far fetched at times, but also had very funny moments, this would be a good holiday read.

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And Then There's Margaret had me laughing from the first to the very last page.

Allie has the Mother in Law from Hell .

Her name is Margaret.

The quips that go back and forth, the innuendos and the out playing each other is something you can just picture.

Margaret sadly has just lost her husband George, whom everyone adored, specially Allie.

Margaret moves in with Allie and her family.

Is it forever Allie wonders.

My mother in law was a saint , my mother was in between but certainly had her Margaret moments ( she too was named Margaret)

I hated this book to end.

I will miss Allie and Margaret too.

So buying this for my sister.

Carolyn Lake has written a fantastic debut and I can't wait to read what she writes next.

Thanks to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for making my day a better and happier one.

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I really enjoyed this book and finished it in one night. It is an easy read and deals with some complicated topics like family dynamics and death while still keeping humor and grace in the story. I liked how the author while making the MIL insufferable still gave moments of clarity that there was more to the story than her horrible behavior. Overall a very good book!!

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This book shares the story of Margaret and her pain in the ass mother-in-law who encroaches on her life and makes her feel inadequate especially after the death of her husband - George. Much of this novel will be very relatable to the reader showcasing the highs and lows of family life but in the end the tale of how Margaret’s mother-in-law came to be the way she is reveals itself and it turns out the two women have more in common than they initially thought.

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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.)

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This book is jawdroppingly crazy funny. Allie's tolerance of her mother-in-law is unbelievable. She has the strength of a warrior! She also has her flaws which makes her totally relatable yet admirable. Margaret is judgmental and crass. The dynamics between these two and knowing what is going on in Allie's head makes this book so enjoyable to read. I was hooked from the opening sentences of the book. This book makes me appreciate my mother-in-law a lot more! lol!

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And Then There's Margaret by Carolyn Clarke is a story centred on the volatile dynamic between a woman and her mother-in-law, and it will speak to anyone who has experienced what is a tricky and, in this case, sometimes toxic relationship.

Allie loves her husband Hank but is in a constant power struggle with his mother Margaret, who does not want to let go of her precious only child. The vitriole spewed by Margaret is shocking though mostly humourous, at least to those who do not find themselves on the receiving end.

I am always fascinated by the dynamics at play in any family unit, and very much enjoyed watching Allie and Margaret navigate their relationship with trepidation, tension, humour and heart.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for an ARC.

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I found myself gritting my teeth while reading this book, because Margaret is possibly the mother-in-law of your worst nightmares. Allison is already stressed and anxious about various aspects of her life (body, husband, kids, job, etc.) and when her beloved father-in-law passes away, Margaret moves in with Allison and her family. Despite all the friction, there is lots of humour and eventually, Allie and Margaret come to a sort of understanding.

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And Then There's Margaret is a gem. It made me frustrated on Allie's behalf, exasperated with Margaret, hopeful as the story progressed, and laughed so much!

It takes a strong person to have an in-law move in with the family but to add existential questions, careers, young adult children, poor Allie hasn't got a chance.

Or has she?

This book is so heartwarming and has me cheering for all the characters. I couldn't put it down and maybe took an extra long lunch one work day to finish it....

This is definitely a must read.

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I enjoyed this book…I did. It’s a light, enjoyable read, and there were many funny moments. But I found Allie incredibly frustrating. And Margaret. And Hank too. And that made it difficult to relate to the characters. In the end, things are explained a bit and that helped…but still.

Thank you to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for the ARC. Look for And Then There’s Margaret in bookstores now.

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Highly recommend if you want a fun, easy read with lovable characters.
The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop.

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Really good book. The plot was well-written and engrossing. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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This is one of those books that I really had to let soak in. Allie is a complex middle-aged woman who is dealing with many relatable issues that life throws out. Her mother in law Margaret is a night-mare. Poor Hank is stuck in the middle in a no win situation between the two woman he loves. Although I wish Hank would have stuck up for his wife, Aliie more, Allie is equally to blame in the tension between the two women. There were some funny, ridiculous moments as the story plays out but I wouldn't say it was a laugh out loud book. It was an enjoyable read and when it ended I couldn't help but think if only the conclusion made at the end happened a lot sooner a lot of heart ache would have been spared. I received a complimentary copy of this book through It's a quick read and I recommend giving it a go. NetGalley and the publisher. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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