Talking About ‘The Widow’ with Bibliobeth

The Widow

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

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…

CHRISSI: Discuss the interaction between Kate and Jean and the ethical limits of investigative journalism.

BETH: First of all, I loved how we got to hear the story of The Widow through a number of different viewpoints i.e. The Reporter (Kate), The Widow (Jean) but also The Detective and The Husband so there were a lot of individual voices with their own particular clues as to what was going on. The interactions between Kate and Jean were among the most interesting – Kate is not a terrible person in her own right but she is hell-bent on getting the story she feels she deserves and is very good at manipulating people, especially those who may be slightly weaker than herself so that she gets what she wants. It’s not that she doesn’t care about Jean or her feelings but she realises that she cannot get too emotionally involved as it may cost her the story and at the end of the day, she’s there to do her job. Journalists can often be thought of as vultures, especially in more emotive cases when vulnerable people are hounded and I think, in a way they have to switch off from the more “human” aspects to be able to get a story.

BETH: This is Fiona Barton’s debut novel. How do you think it compares to other debut novels you have read recently?

CHRISSI: Ooh good question. I have read some very good debuts so far this year. I do think Fiona Barton’s stands out as a decent debut. I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers now, as you know, some of which have been debuts. I feel like it stands up well to other debuts. It’s definitely memorable. It’s made me want to read more from the author.

CHRISSI: Fiona Barton is a former journalist. Do you think that has influenced her writing style?

BETH: I hadn’t realised this previously but looking back on The Widow, I believe it can only have been an advantage for the novel. It is told in short, snappy, very readable chapters that certainly made me want to read “just one more” before closing the book for the night! The style of writing itself was thrilling and although I didn’t particularly warm to any of the characters they were all fascinating enough to keep me reading until the end.

BETH: What are your opinions on the character of Jean? Did you feel sorry for her?

CHRISSI: Another interesting question Beth, you’re rolling them out today. I was very confused with the character of Jean. At times I wondered what she had gone through with Glen. I knew there was something more to the story than first met the eye. During some points of the story, I thought Jean was quite a weak character. I felt like Glen had some sort of hold over her. Then I started to doubt her. I felt sorry for her in some ways but towards the end of the story my feelings began to change towards her. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say anything else. She really was a mixed bag character for me.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: I’m not sure whether predictable would be the right word. I don’t think the author is deliberately keeping anything from us, everything seems to be somewhat out in the open and fairly easy to interpret. I guessed quite early on which character(s) had done wrong, it was just exactly what they did and to what extent that was hidden until the end.

BETH: Do you believe that Glen really loved Jean?

CHRISSI: That’s a hard question to answer because I don’t feel we really ever hear much from his perspective. I would hope he did love Jean, but there’s no real evidence to show this. He certainly doesn’t act like someone madly in love. He comes across as very controlling.

CHRISSI: We read widely in the genre, how does The Widow compare to books in the genre?

BETH: Ooh, yes we do love a good psychological thriller! For me, it holds its own against other books in the genre, I loved the plot-line, the way it was written from multiple viewpoints, the jumping back and forward in time, the characterisation and the exciting final reveal. It’s everything I look for in a thriller and I look forward to reading more from Fiona Barton.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, I would. I loved the short and snappy chapters and the overall plot.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

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