The Widow by Fiona Barton
Published in: February 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: The Widow
This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads: For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.
When 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…
Book Worm’s Thoughts: This is an interesting character study of one woman, Jean Taylor, and how she stands by her husband when he is accused of a terrible crime. Years later, her husband dies and Jean finds her ordered world falling apart. She is once again the centre of attention and this time she has no one to protect and no reason not to talk.
The novel has multiple narrators and shifts in time from the present to the past. We get to see events from Jean’s point of view, her husband’s point of view, a reporter’s point of view, a victim’s point of view, and the police point of view. Each new chapter gives a new perspective on events and piece by piece they come together to build up a cohesive story.
I liked the shift in narratives and timeframes and how the story was built up slowly as links were revealed. My problem with the book was that I didn’t find Jean convincing as a real person and as she is the central character, that was a real issue for me.
I would also say the comparison with Gone Girl is wrong. This is a much slower narrative and one with very few real plot twists.
So who would like this? I think those who enjoy crime fiction and those who like fiction about relationships with hidden secrets will be drawn to this book. Content warning: This book features child abduction and abuse and although it is never actually explicitly described. However, those who are uncomfortable with these themes should probably avoid this book.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here.
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