“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.”
Fiona Barton’s debut novel was apparently the subject of a bidding war by various publishing houses. It has been tipped as the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. ‘The most buzzed about book of 2016’ apparently. I of course knew nothing of this until I googled for a book cover picture to put in this post- shame on me! Call myself a book lover!
In my defence I had read the book and written the review in my little notebook ages ago so the build up and buzz had kind of passed me by. With 5 days left before it is released it is time to give my thoughts to you all!
Fiona Barton was a journalist and self-titled ‘professional observer’ and it shows throughout the pages of The Widow. Told largely (but not solely) from the viewpoints of Jean (the widow), Kate (the reporter) and Bob (the detective), observations on people and society enrich the story and the characterisations. There are shades of grey all over the place and layers upon layers upon layers, and yet the story and the characters are all completely realistic.
It is not an easy or lighthearted book to read, the subject matter alone is probably enough to put some people off- the crime that Jean’s husband was accused of is child abduction and there are also a significant number of passages regarding paedophilia and grooming. Addressing the issue of the family affected by the accusations also makes for difficult reading at times.
This book however was absolutely compelling. The widow’s narrative contrasting with the detective’s near obsession with cracking the case kept the dual timeline and multiple protagonist format working. The characters and social comment seeped slowly under my skin and although I could put the book down, I didn’t want to (pesky need to eat, sleep and work!) and I often found myself thinking about it.
The writing can be a bit too ‘professional’ at times- at times I felt a little bit as if I were being led to a particular attitude towards a character or event. I know this happens in every book but I prefer not to be picking up on it through the writing!
I highly recommend this book. It will not give you a spring in your step, and it doesn’t say anything cheery about the world but it will get inside your head and set up house until you have slowly and carefully read through to the conclusion.
4.5 bites- book released on the 14th Jan 2016. Currently available for pre-orders
NB. I received an advance copy free of charge in return for an honest review. Which I’m pretty glad about- I likely would not have picked this up otherwise and I would have missed out on an excellent read!
All my opinions on this are my own and not influenced by the free-ness of the book!