Most of us either have a mother-in-law or will be one, and it's not a role most women take on gladly. Mothers-in-law are traditionally the butt of jokes, declared to be nasty, possessive and interfering -- but are they really as bad as this reputation suggests? Luisa Dillner looks beyond the stereotype of the mother-in-law and finds they come in many different varieties, from loveable and loyal to lonely, ferocious and scheming. She traces their history, from Ancient Greece and Rome to modern times, through fairy tales and traditions, in this celebration of this most complicated of relationships.

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