Book Review

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Jean Taylor has a simple, happy life.  That is until her husband, Glen, is accused of a terrible crime.  Suddenly, he’s infamous.  His face is splashed across the front of every newspaper and journalists are camped outside of their front door.  Standing by him through the trial, she tries to make the best of a bad situation.

Then Glen dies in an accident, and now everyone wants to hear the widow’s side of the story.

The Widow is already drawing comparisons with recent hits such as The Girl on the Train.  Whilst I see the similarity, I think that The Widow offers something a little different.  Many of the novels that this has been compared to work in that they include a big twist that turns your assumptions on their head.  The Widow isn’t like that.  There are plenty of twists in the tale, but this is more a gradual revealing of information, so that all along you’re not entirely sure where it’s going.  I think that this is just as exciting as those novels with the big ‘OMG’ moment, and I found it to be refreshingly different.

Barton has worked as a journalist, covering various high profile cases throughout the course of her career, and her experience shows in this novel – there’s a real air of authenticity around the portrayal of the press and their treatment of the case and those involved.  Similarly, working as a journalist has given Barton, as she herself has stated, significant opportunities for people-watching, and again this helps to bring her novel to life in that her characters are brilliantly realised.  These are complex people with all the flaws and imperfections that you see in real life.

Interestingly, this time spent watching people gave Barton the inspiration for the novel, while she was wondering what goes through the heads of the wives / girlfriends of the individuals that stand accused.  It’s an interesting idea, and not something I’d considered before – it’s so easy to focus on the accused and forget about those that are closest to them.

This is a great novel that brings something a little different to the table.  Well written and easy to read, I think that this will be an instant bestseller.

The Widow will be published in the UK in January 2016.  Many thanks to Ben Willis at Transworld for providing a copy for review.

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