The Widow by Fiona Barton is already an international bestseller, so it’s about time we got to read it in the U.S., doncha think? This is one creepy psychological thriller to be sure. If you’re married, you know it’s true that there’s a public side to a marriage and there’s a private side. There are also things people tell themselves that allow them to stay in marriages and overlook little or sometimes huge annoyances. That’s just the way it seems to be for a lot of people, and The Widow examines that phenomenon in a very interesting way. Even better, we’ve got a copy that one of you will win in our giveaway so be sure to enter!
Jean Taylor, a London housewife, has been married for a very long time. Her husband, Glen, has his oddities like a lot of husbands, and she has learned to ignore most of them. He’s older than she is and much too controlling but he does seem to love her in his own way. She has always wanted to think the best of him and the best of their marriage so she has learned to overlook his peculiarities. Her duty has always been to stand by her husband and that’s what she has done, even when the police came calling and started to ask some very pointed questions. Of course, maybe if she’d told the truth then things might have turned out differently – or not.
Things began to go wrong when a horrible crime was discovered; a very young girl named Bella was abducted right out of her front yard and disappeared. That her husband came under suspicion was a fluke, really. His delivery truck was spotted in the area, a truck that two different men drove. But he did become a suspect and the police seemed to stick to him like glue without really seriously looking at anyone else, including the other driver. They had a likely suspect and that was all they needed.
“The 999 call had come in at 4:38. The woman’s voice was breathless with grief.
‘She’s been taken,’ she said. ‘She’s only two. Someone has taken her…’
On the recording played over and over again in the ensuing days, the soothing alto tones of the male operator could be heard in an agonizing duet with the shrill soprano of the caller.
‘What’s your little girl’s name?’
‘Bella, she’s called Bella.’
‘And who am I talking to?’
‘I’m her mum. Dawn Elliott. She was in the garden, at the front. Our house – 44a Manor Road, Westland. Please help me.’
‘We will, Dawn. I know this is hard, but we need to know a few more things to help us find Bella. When did you last see her? Was she on her own in the garden?’
‘She was playing with the cat. On her own. After her nap. She hadn’t been out there long. Just a few minutes. I went out to bring her in about three thirty and she was gone. We’ve looked everywhere. Please, help me find her.’”
Of course, Jean stuck by her husband and defended him loyally no matter what was said or what eventually happened. And she has paid a horrible insidious price for insisting on his innocence. They both have, of course. But it wasn’t just the stares and the relentless harassment from other people. There was also the strain on Jean’s conscience because she knows the truth, whatever it is, even if she doesn’t admit it to herself.
Now her husband is dead and she isn’t sure what to do. What will be the consequences if she stops defending him, whether he’s really guilty or innocent? Should she tell what really happened? Will that bring her the peace she seeks? Will she be allowed to get on with her life if she tells what people want to hear?
Jean certainly has tons of opportunities to come clean about what happened. All kinds of media people are hounding her for her story – for the truth or at least a version of it that they can use to sell more newspapers and magazines to a public clamoring for more. It’s a sensational story without a doubt. But do people really want to know the truth or do they just want to take advantage of her when they think she’s at her most vulnerable? Will they write the truth or will they twist it like they’ve twisted everything else? And what’s in it for her if she finally comes forward and tells her side of what happened? Could she go to jail? Could it mean that she will finally be left alone to go on with her life? What should she do?
“All I have to do is tell her about my life, she says.
My life? She doesn’t want to know about me. She hasn’t walked up my path to hear about Jean Taylor. She wants to know about him. About Glen. My husband.
You see, my husband died last week. Knocked down by a bus just outside Sainsbury’s. He was there one minute, giving me grief about what sort of cereal I should’ve bought, and the next, dead on the road. Head injuries, they said. Dead, anyway. I just stood there and looked at him, lying there. People were running around finding blankets, and there was a bit of blood on the pavement. Not much blood, though. He would’ve been glad. He didn’t like any sort of mess.
Everyone was very kind and trying to stop me from seeing his body, but I couldn’t tell them I was glad he was gone. No more of his nonsense.”
Even though she’s always insisted on her husband’s innocence, the main question she keeps getting asked by the media hounding her door and her phone seems to be, “What was it like living with him? Was he innocent or a cold-hearted killer?” Every marriage has secrets but Jean’s marriage seems to have had huge secrets. Should she finally tell those secrets or should she make up what she knows the world wants to know? Do they really want the truth? Can they even handle the truth? And what will happen if she tells the truth after all the lies she’s made everyone believe?
This once, even though I’m dying to spill the beans, I’m not going to tell you anything about Jean or her husband. To do that would create spoilers. This is one thriller you’re going to have to uncover as you go along. Doing it any other way will definitely spoil it.
It’s easy to see why The Widow is an international bestseller. It’s got all the hallmarks of a great classic psychological thriller and it kept me hooked right up to the very end. Reporters and police detectives are not shown in a very sympathetic light to say the least. I don’t think there are any heroes in this novel – just a tragic and creepy story thread that grabs on and won’t let go. I couldn’t put it down and one of you will win it!
Can’t wait to read it? The Widow is available in all formats from your favorite online bookseller below. Just click the link and get it to read now!
I’d love to get your comments on The Widow, Fiona Barton, and/or this review.
One lucky reader will win an ARC (advance readers copy) of The Widow by Fiona Barton!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 3/5/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
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7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!