A shocking murder rattles an exclusive London neighborhood in this “fast-paced, decadent skewering of upper middle-class motherhood” (Sarah Bonner, New York Times bestselling author) from the author of Greenwich Park.
In this whip-smart novel that “pulls out all the psychological thriller stops—and then some” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), a young nanny is found dead under mysterious circumstances. New mom, Tash, is intrigued. She has been searching for a story to launch her career as a freelance journalist. But she has also been searching for something else—new friends to help her navigate motherhood.
She sees them at her son’s new playgroup: the other mothers. A group of sleek, sophisticated women who live in a neighborhood of tree-lined avenues and stunning houses. The sort of mothers Tash would like to be. When the mothers welcome her into their circle, she discovers the kind of life she has always dreamt of—their elegant London townhouses a far cry from her cramped basement flat and endless bills. She is quickly swept up into their wealthy world via coffees, cocktails, and playdates.
But when another young woman is found dead, it’s clear there’s much more to the tight-knit community than meets the eye. The more Tash investigates, the more she’s led uncomfortably close to the other mothers. Are these women really her friends? Or is there another, more dangerous reason why she has been so quickly accepted into their exclusive world? Who, exactly, is investigating who?
Reading Group Guide
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This reading group guide for The Other Mothers includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
When a young nanny is found dead in mysterious circumstances, new mom Tash is intrigued. She has been searching for a story to launch her career as a freelance journalist. But she has also been searching for something else—new friends to help her navigate motherhood.
She sees them at her son’s new playgroup. The other mothers. A group of sleek, sophisticated women who live in a neighborhood of tree-lined avenues and stunning houses. The sort of mother Tash herself would like to be. When the mothers welcome her into their circle, Tash discovers the kind of life she has always dreamed of—their elegant London town houses a far cry from her cramped basement flat and endless bills. She is quickly swept up into their wealthy world via coffees, cocktails, and playdates.
But when another young woman is found dead, it’s clear there’s much more to the community than meets the eye. The more Tash investigates, the more she’s led uncomfortably close to the other mothers. Are these women really her friends? Or is there another, more dangerous reason why she has been so quickly accepted into their exclusive world? Who, exactly, is investigating whom?
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. How (if at all) do you think Sophie’s relationship with her mom affects her actions?
2. Do you think Sophie is a good person? How did your thoughts about her change throughout the book?
3. Discuss the aspects of Sophie’s and Tash’s lives that mirror each other. How do you think their shared traits affected Tash’s investigation? How would the story have been different if they didn’t have these similarities?
4. Discuss Jude’s Stick Man bedtime story. Why do you think it comes up when it does in the novel? And how do you think it ends?
5. Do you think the accusations against Ed at his job are true? Discuss evidence for both sides.
6. Nicole goes very far to protect her friends despite not being directly involved in the situation they are covering up. Why do you think she goes so far out of her way? What would you risk for your friends?
7. Who is the villain in this story? Is there a hero?
8. Tash often associates beauty with power. She talks about thinking people seem powerful because of how they are dressed, what they look like, etc. How true do you think this is? And how is it relevant at different points throughout the book?
9. On page 370, Tash thinks about who she is. She says she is “not a bad person, I do believe that, though I suppose everybody does.” Do you agree with the idea that everyone thinks they are a good person? Does every character in this book have reason to believe that they are a good person?
10. Were you surprised by the ending? Satisfied? Why or why not?
11. What do you think Tash decides to tell Christina in the end? What would you do in this situation?
12. Do you agree with the sentiment of the closing line, that truth is subjective?
13. The idea of an exclusive group bringing in an outsider is popular in media. In order to feel accepted by the other mothers, Tash starts spending more money, wearing different clothes, and changing her eating habits, among other things. Talk about this phenomenon. Does it ever work? Talk about other examples from movies, TV, books, etc.
Enhance Your Book Club
1. There are a few possibilities for Tash’s immediate future after the book ends, depending on what she chooses to share with Christina. Split into groups and discuss different possible ways the situation could play out if she tells Christina what she did on the cliffs or if she goes along with Christina’s belief about Laura. Come together and discuss the possibilities.
2. The Other Mothers is told from two points of view and in two different time lines. Everyone choose a character (other than Tash or Sophie) and talk about what the book would have been like from their point of view. Would it have been told in Tash’s time line or Sophie’s? Which scenes would you want to see from their POV?
3. In the end of the book, Tash makes the decision not to move forward with submitting her story about Sophie’s death to be published. If she had decided to publish it, what do you think it would have looked like? Discuss what the format of the article could be and what evidence she might have included. You could even try to write a sample of what the article might’ve looked like, with the help of others in your reading group.
Katherine Faulkner, an award-winning journalist, studied history at Cambridge. She has worked as an investigative reporter and an editor and was formerly the joint Head of News at The Times (London). She lives in London, where she grew up, with her husband and two daughters. She is the author of The Other Mothers and Greenwich Park.
Why We Love It
“We’ve all seen them in the wild: the perfectly dressed, glossily coifed, and seemingly never stressed women at the school gate. They’re the ‘other mothers’ every woman in mismatched sweatpants and a scrunchied bun wishes to be. But as is ever the case, the grass isn’t always greener—in fact—it can be dangerous. Katherine Faulkner’s incredibly twisty sophomore novel (after the bestselling Greenwich Park) is like Mean Girls for adults and you can’t trust anyone. ANYONE.”
—Alison C., VP, Executive Editor, on The Other Mothers
“[A] menace-infused thriller . . . Faulkner is a pro at ever-so-gradually ratcheting up the tension bit by tiny, spine-tingling bit. And, as the narrative deftly swings between timeframes . . . we get a vertiginous view of just how tightly a group of people’s lives can be inexorably twisted together. Faulkner pulls out all the psychological-thriller stops—and then some.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Fans of Ashley Audrain and Chandler Baker will enjoy the similar themes of motherhood, the unspoken parts of women’s relationships, desire, envy, and heart-pounding suspense. The alternating timelines build anticipation but the twists will keep readers guessing to the last page.”—Library Journal
"Next-level mum noir, The Other Mothers is a brilliant portrayal of the complexities of parenthood, work and - oh yes - murder. Smart, tense and gripping. Loved it!" —Ellery Lloyd, author of New York Times bestseller and Reese's Bookclub pick The Club
"Katherine Faulkner unpeels Fornasetti wallpaper and opens glass box extensions, revealing delectably dislikeable characters, secrets - and murder. The Other Mothers is The Undoing meets Big Little Lies. A fast-paced, decadent skewering of upper middle-class motherhood." —Abigail Dean, author of New York Times bestseller Girl A
“A super-smart thriller… I was utterly captivated by the way this novel reeled me in, slowly revealing the layers of the wonderfully intricate plot. Smart, slick, and highly recommended.” —Sarah Bonner, author of the number one New York Times bestselling Her Perfect Twin
“Once again, Katherine Faulkner so masterfully delivers a delicious combination of treacherous secrets and enviable lives, this time among a group of upper class moms whose perfection unravels after Tash, a new mom to the playgroup and struggling journalist, realizes things aren’t quite what they seem. I couldn’t part with this book until I’d finished—THE OTHER MOTHERS is the elevated, devourable thriller you’ve been looking for.” —Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push
"The Other Mothers is a first-class thriller, with taut prose, gasp-worthy twists and characters you’ll love to hate. Faulkner has done it again - fans of Greenwich Park won’t be disappointed." —Robin Morgan-Bentley, author of The Wreckage and The Guest House
"A highly addictive and whip-smart tale, The Other Mothers strips the surface from Insta-perfect lives to reveal a deeply unsettling reality. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! " —Teresa Driscoll, author of the international bestseller I am Watching You