By: Fiona Barton
Publication Date: 2/16/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
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For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.
When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen...
But that woman's husband died last week. And Jean doesn't have to be her anymore.
There's a lot Jean hasn't said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.
Now there's no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.
The truth—that's all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…
A special thank you to Berkley/NAL and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Smartly written, Fiona Barton’s debut THE WIDOW, most definitely lives up to the hype---a wicked, deliciously evil, slow-burning, taut psychological suspense—the author definitely knows her way around the media, investigations, obsessions, and crazies. Even though this is a debut, (shocking), this is not Barton’s first rodeo. Have you read her bio? Impressive.
While readers seem to be flocking to psychological suspense and suburban noirs---2016 brings a mix of the hottest new genre, following the sensational Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.
Barton masters the craft with her haunting creation. (I actually liked it better than the aforementioned). Filled with complex and intimate glimpses into the lives ruled by obsession, crisis, and fear; where mood and characters drive the novel—Thought-provoking; creating a dark, chilling, disturbing and unsettling tone.
Meet Jean Taylor, The Widow. She is the heart of the story. A complex woman of many faces.
As the novel opens, it is 2010. Jean is hiding out from reporters, as she has done for years. She has managed to stay clear; however, this time there is a different vulture calling, with her own agenda. Kate Waters, a tenacious reporter from the Daily Post. She is crafty and works herself smoothly inside the door, for her kill.
Why the interest in Jean?
Kate wants the story. A trained observer. She can taste the story. The story of Jean’s life with her killer husband, Glen. The real truth about Glen. Bella, the baby girl. He died the previous week, knocked down by a bus just outside Sainsbury. Accident, pushed, or suicide?
Is Jean really sad about Glen dying? Or, did she just dream of him dying. (with a devious smile). A grieving widow, or a happy one behind her veil?
Jean and Glen met when she was only seventeen years old. She, an apprentice at a hairdresser in Greenwich. Glen worked at a bank. He was a bit older. Good-looking. He was protective, neat, and romantic. She was messy. They were married when she was nineteen.
What does Jean really know about Glen? What does he know about her? The intimate lives of a marriage. A husband and wife. No children. Addictions. For better or worse-a marriage vow.
Meet the cast:
Dawn: A single young mother with a two- year- old daughter, Bella. Abducted from her own back yard.
Bob: The detective who is obsessed with finding the little girl. Desperate to prove Glen’s guilt.
Glen: The manipulative monster. A liar. A pedophile? A murderer? What is he really doing at night behind closed doors in front of the computer. His secrets. Accused of a brutal crime. Is he guilty or innocent? After getting laid (fired) off at the bank he was a delivery driver. A van. He wanted to start his own business. The unraveling. Guilty, not guilty?
Jean: She does what Glen says. Glen is her husband. Is she naive. She loves her husband. He could not do terrible things. Is she too, one of Glen’s victims? Under his control? Does she believe his lies, or is she as twisted as her husband? Does she have her own agenda? An obsession and desire for a baby. She is weak, clever, and manipulative. She plays two parts. Why would a woman stay with a man who looks at child abuse on their computer? What is the hold?
Kate: A strong personality. (Loved her) She wants more than anything to be the one to get the truth. She can taste it. (Social media, journalism, and cop procedures play a big role in the novel-- ideal for further discussions.)
Let the games begin.
Flashing back and from 2006 to 2010, readers learn about the abduction. This event sets everything in motion. What happened to Baby Bella? There is much to explore in the four- year period.
Unprofessional behavior, inappropriate, termination. The end of their dreams. None of this was Glen’s fault. After all Jean (Jeanie) was his world, he leads her to believe. An investigation. Now, with him dead, they only have Jean to lead them to the truth. Where is Bella? Does Jean know what Glen did with Bella?
An intriguing puzzle. Jean is in control. Whether fake or real. Barton’s crafty skills are reflective throughout this ongoing nightmare. An abduction which only took minutes. Even though Jean dominates, readers learn perspectives from the important players.
Atmospheric. Doubt. There’s a dark, growing sense of foreboding; however, the compelling pace stems not so much from the actual action, but from the intensity of the mood. Disturbing, Creepy, and Unsettling.
THE WIDOW plays with your mind…leaving the reader wondering about the authenticity of the character. Barton takes you inside their complex minds. This is where I see a difference of opinions within the reviews posted. The novel plays with the readers’ mind. Internal psychological monsters are at play, versus external ones. Not from action. Intensity. The obsession. The changing of the character from beginning to the end, captures you. The "reveal" is in the changing of your perspective of the characters from the beginning of the book to the end. Inward, versus outward.
Tortured relationships. Obsessions. Emphasizing the psychology of its characters and their unstable emotional states. While reading, you will experience an array of emotion from doubt, fear, disgust, and in the end a satisfying twist.
Psychological suspense crosses suburban noir. Where characters are wounded and flawed, yearning for something they can’t define. A toxic marriage, greed, envy, discontent, fear. Off-balance, driven to crime by mental and emotional forces they’re unable to control—how many are in your own neighborhood? Obsessed, paranoid, desperate to find happiness, and clinging to their sense of security. A scary thought.
An excellent choice for book clubs or further discussions. An author to follow! Can't wait to see what's next.
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The Widow US cover
US release February 16th 2016
“The ultimate psychological thriller. Barton carefully unspools this dark, intimate tale of a terrible crime, a stifling marriage, and the lies spouses tell not just to each other, but to themselves in order to make it through. The ending totally blew me away!”
—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Fiona Barton’s THE WIDOW is a fast-paced, heart-stopping debut. Jean Taylor—the widow—is heroine and anti-heroine, naïve and savvy, dominated and dominating; in short, utterly compelling. Sure to thrill fans of The Girl on the Train and The Husband’s Secret, I raced through this in one nail-biting sitting.”
—Catherine McKenzie, international bestselling author of Hidden
“A marriage is a public union, but can also act as a wall hiding an inner world of secrets. Fiona Barton's THE WIDOW grabs hold of this insight and runs with it, twisting all the way to the end.”
—Andrew Pyper, #1 international bestselling author of The Demonologist
“Stunning from start to finish. I devoured it in one sitting. The best book I've read this year. If you liked Gone Girl, you'll love this. Fiona Barton is a major new talent.”
—M. J. Arlidge, international bestselling author of Eeny Meeny
“Dark, compelling and utterly unputdownable. My book of the year so far.”
—C.L. Taylor, international bestselling author of Before I Wake
—Glamour UK called it “The Most Anticipated Book of 2016” and said it will fill the void left by Girl on the Train
—PureWow named it one of “30 Reasons to Get Excited for 2016!,” saying the book is “primed to be this year's Girl on the Train.”
—PopSugar named it in their roundup of “23 Books You Should Read This Winter”
—Sacramento Bee named it in their roundup of winter’s buzziest books
—Publishers Weekly gave it a STARRED review
The Widow UK cover UK release January 14th 2016
Entertainment Weekly Jan 11, 2016
About the Author
My career has taken some surprising twists and turns over the years. I have been a journalist - senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where I won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards, gave up my job to volunteer in Sri Lanka and since 2008, have trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists all over the world.
But through it all, a story was cooking in my head.
The worm of this book infected me long ago when, as a national newspaper journalist covering notorious crimes and trials, I found myself wondering what the wives of those accused really knew – or allowed themselves to know.
It took the liberation of my career change to turn that fascination into a tale of a missing child, narrated by the wife of the man suspected of the crime, the detective leading the hunt, the journalist covering the case and the mother of the victim.
Much to my astonishment and delight, The Widow, will be published in 22 countries in January 2016. However, the sudden silence of my characters feels like a reproach and I am currently working on a second book.
My husband and I are living the good life in south-west France, where I am writing in bed, early in the morning when the only distraction is our cockerel, Sparky, crowing.
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