The Widow Book Review | Lunch-Time Librarian

The Widow Book Review – Wine with Wives

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The Widow by Fiona BartonWhen the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…
But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.
There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.
The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

The Good Bits.

The Widow did well at utilizing several perspectives to create a well rounded narrative. The most impressive, was the way in which Fiona showed the detective and reporter’s lives in subtle ways that didn’t distract from the story. Which was wonderful because there’s nothing worse than getting into a story and then this random side story comes popping its head in. Every character was focused on the case which made it all the more intense.

Because Jean and Glen (aka the widow and her then husband) are unable to have children, Jean develops an obsession with them. This was something new to see in a novel and was an interesting way of expressing the way that type of pain can present itself. And in a book where they’re investigating the disappearance of a child, it also created suspicion. But just as suspicious is her husband Glen who spends his nights doing God knows what on his computer, and when the cops come knocking at their door you’ll start making wild theories. Glen himself is an interesting character because he’s so in denial about the truth of his character. He’s also a character that Fiona uses to show a different sort of abuse than the more commonly seen physical abuse. Their relationship is absolutely one of the most interesting parts of the novel.

Sour Grapes.

The novel kept building up, building up, and building up, and then it fell flat on its face. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by other thrillers, but when I read a mystery I don’t expect to be right with my very first guess. I wanted big twists and turns, but they never came. The Widow is much more focused on the character than on the mystery. So if you prefer more character focus then this is the novel for you, but if you like “OMG WHAT?” twists and turns, you may be disappointed.

I would have preferred if Jean’s perspective was much more prominent. Sometimes a different perspective would come up and I would just about explode because I wanted to hear more from Jean and less from the detective or reporter.

The Last Bite.

The Widow was an interesting read, but ultimately I felt let down by the ending. When I read a mystery novel I expect a mystery, not something so predictable it was painful.

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How important are twists in a thriller/mystery to you?

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Let’s do lunch again next week!


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