Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review - The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow Fiona Barton UK
Publisher : Bantam Press
14 January 2016
Copy : Hardback - Reviewer purchased
The Blurb
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.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

This novel has a very strong concept - a happily married couple find life changes beyond all recognition when The Husband, Glen, is accused of the abduction of a little girl, but then Glen dies when he gets hit by a bus and the world wants to know what The Widow, Jean, really knows - and by the world I mean The Reader, of course.
The author manages the plot, and develops the suspense of the novel by writing in alternating narrators - all of them extremely unreliable.  The Widow, The Reporter, The Detective, The Mother (of the abducted child) among others, so I was constantly wondering who the hell could be believed.  They were all punctuated with faults and I have to say, my own personal view was, I didn't particularly like any of them, but I think this helped with the general overall whole uncomfortable theme of the book - I don't think a 'nice' character would have served the book well at all.
I was never sure what to make of Jean, her thoughts seem scattered and irregular, sometimes she seemed naïve and passive, the product of marrying too young to an over-bearing control freak, but other comments or thoughts seemed to indicate she wasn't as innocent to life as she would have appearances make her.  My one negative thought on the book here, is with regard to the age Jean was pitched at.  She is supposed to be in her forties, but my immediate feeling about her was she was from a much older generation.  Like a house-wife in the 1940's era.  I couldn't get the image out of my head of a dowdy, retired, cardigan / slipper wearing women at the point we find her in this story - if she had been I could have found some of her naivety with regard to some of the issues within the plot much more plausible then.  However, as the story progressed I could see glimpses of why she might be so flip-flopped on her thoughts - prolonged pressure and trauma can do strange things to the mind...
Personally I liked how the story pieced-together through both varying narrators and alternating time periods, I thought it was quite clear and didn't ever have to go back and re-read.  I was expecting the pace of the story to be a little faster than what it was, but overall this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book.  The chapters are quite short and because they varied from narrator to narrator this stopped any chance of it becoming boring.  It was a refreshing way to read a dark thriller, not in the intense place of the head of the main characters, but from the view of those on side-lines.  Those left trying to make sense of it all in the aftermath.
One clever thing about the novel is all the characters are quite obsessive about something or another.  It seemed to be a recurring theme throughout and ultimately depicts the darker side of what can happen when obsession takes over and how easily people can be fooled into justifying, unjustifiable actions.
When I finished this book I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it.  It wasn't the 'who done it?' I thought it was going to be, it is a dark topic matter, for me there was no likable characters and the ending left me feeling like I wanted to throttle someone, but, it kept me thinking for days and I realised - that is a sign of a good book.  My advice to people who read this book is be prepared for it not to be quite what you think it is going to be. 
The Widow, therefore receives ... four pink notebooks :

No comments:

Post a Comment