Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Out now
Published by: Random House, Transworld
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

'The ultimate psychological thriller' Lisa Gardner

We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

Du Maurier's REBECCA meets WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and GONE GIRL in this intimate tale of a terrible crime.

My review:

It's only January but I already know that The Widow is set to be one of my favourite reads of 2016. It gripped me and didn't let me go right until the end. A story of a terrible man and a terrible crime, but just how much does his wife really know and trust him....and just how much should she trust him?

I think it's going to be quite hard to write a review that does the book justice, whilst not giving away any of the plot.  But I shall try......

Our leading lady is Jean, wife of a man who has been accused of an awful crime, yet for some reason Jean sticks by him, never speaking badly of him, and appears to be totally devoted to him. Having recently died Jean finally has the opportunity to tell her story. Much of the book is written from Jean's perspective as we delve into her and Glen's world. Just what was it like to live with a man who has been accused of such awful things? I find it a bit incomprehensible, thinking more that women of today were more likely to speak up or walk away. I was imagining Jean as a woman in her late fifties or older, and had to remind myself that she was much younger.

Throughout the book I was constantly trying to piece it all together. What really happened? Was Glen guilty of the allegations against him or not? How well did Jean really know her husband? I also found I was constantly questioning myself. How would I act? What would I do? Am I as sure of myself as I like to think I am? Whilst it felt like quite a slow start, as the story developed it became a roller coaster ride that had me holding my breath at times.

Joining Jean as a narrator are Kate and Bob. Kate is a local journalist who has been covering the case and finds a way in to Jean's world to try and uncover the truth. Bob is the detective leading the case for the police. Both characters have very important roles in helping us readers get a more rounded idea of what happened and I really enjoyed reading their parts in the book. The book flits between the past and the present which builds up the context of events brilliantly as well as allowing us to meet some of the other characters. I particularly liked Kate. Yes, she was a journo who could at times be quite aggressive in her approach, but I truly believed that all she wanted was to get to the truth, and that she genuinely cared.

I seem to be in the midst of a binge reading psychological thrillers since the start of the year and The Widow is certainly fits the bill. The book really got under my skin and had me turning pages at a rate of knots, unable to tear myself away. It is a dark and sinister story that touches on some disturbing themes. But whilst dark there was nothing gratuitous about the book. Sadly these events can and do happen. Some of the events they also served to really make me think about how much of our lives we share, and some of our habits.

I was lucky enough to attend a book event at Dulwich books last week featuring Fiona Barton. It was fascinating to hear her speak about how she came up with the concept for the book, and how she felt writing it. It has made me think about the book and its storyline all over again. For example, I found it hard to imagine how a wife could stick by her husband no matter what. But as Fiona pointed out, Harold Shipman's wife did exactly that.

The other exciting news from the event is that Fiona is working on book two which will feature Kate. I cannot wait to read it. The Widow was a wonderful story, a rollercoaster ride of emotion, dark, gritty and unputdownable! I absolutely loved it!!!

Thank you to Random House, Transworld who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

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