Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Widow by Fiona Barton

First Line: I can hear the sound of her crunching up the path.

When the police began showing up at the door... when they began asking questions...  Jean Taylor was circumspect, a woman standing by her wrongly accused husband. When her husband dies, Jean doesn't have to be that woman any more.

There's a lot Jean could say about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She's no longer busy being the perfect wife. And believe you me, there are people who would do almost anything to get Jean to tell her story. What was it like to live with Glen Taylor? Jean could tell them that there were secrets-- just like there are in any marriage.

But is Jean Taylor actually going to tell any of those people the truth?

I am glad that I didn't see all the Gone Girl and Girl on a Train hype before I decided to read this book. If I had, I wouldn't have read it. Gone Girl may be flavor of the month, but it left a very bad taste in my mouth, hence my reluctance to fall for any hype linking a new book to it. Fortunately The Widow is not Gone Girl, so if that's been making you nervous, you can relax. 

This is the story of Jean Taylor, a woman who has tried her best for a very long time to be a perfect wife for Glen Taylor, a man who is less than perfect himself. As a matter of fact, readers slowly learn that Glen Taylor is one of the lower forms of pond scum. Orbiting around Jean like twin asteroids are Detective Inspector Bob Sparkes, the police officer who desperately wants to bring closure to a victim's family, and journalist Kate Stone, a woman with a knack for prying headline-grabbing stories from reluctant people. Just what does Jean know? What really happened? Is she going to tell Sparkes and Stone what they want to hear? These are questions that follow the reader throughout the book.

Jean Taylor's voice is a compelling one, and she gains sympathy very early on. This story is a gradual-- often mesmerizing-- unraveling of events, and the author often held me right in the palm of her hand. Barton made only one misstep: there is one important fact that Jean Taylor is withholding, and Barton telegraphs it too early. This takes away some of the power of the ending, but even so, this debut novel has me wanting to get my hands on the author's next book!

The Widow by Fiona Barton
eISBN: 9781101990469
NAL © 2016
eBook, 368 pages

Psychological Thriller, Standalone
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley 



  1. This book is getting a lot of buzz. Yours may be the first review I've read. Sounds like a good one to try. And I'll likely do that at some point. As an aside, I'm so ready for another book to get attention that doesn't contain 'girl' in the title. Maybe this one is it. LOL

    1. Yes, we definitely need "girl"-less books to take over all the buzz!

  2. I do keep hearing great things about this one, Cathy. As Kay says, there's a lot of buzz about it. I'm very glad you enjoyed it as much as you did. Hmm.....may have to look for this one.

    1. It's a really interesting character study, Margot. I think you'd like it.

  3. I definitely want to read it. As someone who read The Girl on the Train and decided not to read Gone Girl, I am beyond frustrated by the hype for new psychological thrillers being compared to these 2015 titles. Enough already, and glad The Widow is a worthwhile read.

    1. I went at it from the other direction: I started reading Gone Girl, couldn't finish it, and decided I didn't want anything to do with The Girl on the Train.

      Obviously this marketing works or they wouldn't do it, but I know that it drives many of us nuts!

    2. You were wise not to bother reading The Girl on the Train. I picked it up from the library and started reading it, couldn't put it down. When I was finished, I wondered what the fuss was about.

      One criticism of it is that the reader can't tell the three women's voices apart. They seem alike.

      It is a psychological suspense book and people get drawn in -- but as I read it, I asked myself don't mystery readers find better books than this? And I was dismayed when the library system said this was one of the top books read last year.

      I did not bother starting Gone Girl. It looked annoying.

      Glad to see that this one is good.

      Also, I did like The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Ledercrantz. One thing is that there is not gratuitous violence nor misogyny, a plus.

    3. Gone Girl looked annoying to you, and you were right. I read just over 25 pages and knew that I couldn't take any more of the two main characters. They were both beyond annoying.

  4. This book is starting to annoy me. First person woman narrator whom I'm not sure of, psychological suspense.
    I'll give it some time, but if I get the GOTT feeling, I'm going to go find a traditional third person narrative.

  5. The Girl on the Train.

    Luckily, this book did not turn out to be another TGOTT. The writing and character development is much better. The reader can tell the characters apart.

    It is an interesting topic, what goes on in the mind of a spouse/partner of someone who is suspected of committing one of the worst crimes. What kind of denial does she put up to cope? What does she tell herself to rationalize staying with him?

    I think the author does a good job here, much better than with many "girl" books. And I did like some of the characters, the detective, and then his woman partner. And I felt sympathy for the mother of the vanished child.
    I have ambivalent feelings about Jean Taylor. At some point, wouldn't a spouse be angry about what was being viewed on the computer? Isn't there a demarcation point beyond which a spouse would leave or kick the guy out or call the police? What will a spouse put up with?

    A lot of things to think about. The book was still creepy as it went along, something I don't usually like to read, but it ended in time.

    1. Yes, I deduced what the acronym meant from what you said in a comment on another post.

      I'm glad you did-- in the end-- enjoy The Widow to some degree. It does raise some intriguing questions that I puzzled over as I read.


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