Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Widow by Fiona Barton

I’m starting off the New Year with a book that is tipped to be one of the most anticipated novels of 2016. Although it’s not out until January 14th, I just couldn’t wait to give my thoughts on The Widow

Jean Taylor lived an ordinary life; a nice house, a nice husband and a steady job. Then her beloved husband Glen is accused of an unthinkable crime and overnight her life is forever changed. Jean stands by her man throughout the trial, the media frenzy and the public backlash. But now Glen is dead, Jean is alone for the first time and able to tell her story on her own terms. 

In centre stage is Jean, The Widow, but we also see the story from the views of the detective involved in the case and the journalist trying to get the ultimate scoop of the story, as well as a couple of others central to the tale. 

Glen is accused of the abduction and possible murder of a baby girl and of course any crime involving children although terrible, is also big news. It’s obvious from the start that the seemingly normal Taylors have their secrets and as the reader is propelled back and forth through time, you start to unravel their lives and their connection to the disappearance of Baby Bella. 

I found it interesting to get the view from the detective and the reporter intertwined in Jean’s story. The characters are closely linked anyway, so you get the media buzz and need for the story from the journalist, the pressure and police procedural element surrounding the detective, and of course the emotions and actions of Jean who is at the centre of it all. Jean is a scarily believable character, inspired by women who have appeared by the side of loved ones at high profile court cases. 

It’s an intriguing theme; going with the person not fully in the spotlight but on the periphery of the circus, the person not accused but who will undoubtedly share in public anger, media storm and emotional rollercoaster that goes with being accused of monstrous crimes. As a journalist, this is something Fiona Barton has obviously been witness to and that authenticity comes through in the writing. 

The story is perfectly paced. There is enough going on to keep you engaged but it goes slowly enough to build all the tension and suspense that makes the tale all the more thrilling to read. It’s one of those novels where you’re not sure who to trust and you second guess what you know until all the pieces are finally laid into place. 

This book already has a number of impressive accolades under its belt. It was acquired in a hotly contested UK auction and is to be published in 28 territories around the world as well as having world television rights acquired by a major production company. 

Once you’ve read this taut and tense thriller, it is plain to see what the fuss is about. The Widow is a compulsive, unsettling yet riveting psychological thriller that will keep you gripped page after page. 

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