Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Oh dear. I SO wanted to love this one. The one everyone's going to be talking about apparently. Well yes, that's actually entirely possible - it is a novel of the type very much in the public eye at the moment, domestic noir, unreliable narrator, girls, sisters, daughters, wives or whatever and secrets.
Fiona Barton writes extremely well, I have no problem whatsoever with that, talented yes, knows how to pull you into a story yes, pootles around the reveals yes - The Widow has a high readability factor. If it wasn't for the fact that I'd read this book twice a month on average this year I might even be raving about it. And it's definitely not a bad book in that sense - I'm sure it will gain a lot of fans, and within it's market is bound to do well.
I came out of it feeling fairly bored by the whole affair ultimately. I could have read the first and last chapters (in fact I probably didn't need to read the last one to be honest I had that ending down around page 4)and filled in the rest for myself whilst doing something else. Which isn't to say I didn't enjoy reading it because I did - It just didn't feel like an actual requirement to finding out what The Widow knew. And for me....
The Widow herself was inordinately whiny and annoying. On top of that the police were stupid. I mean STUPID. Not "oops we missed this it happens sometimes" errors but completely and utterly stupid. If I were a policeman reading this book I'd be grinding my teeth and throwing shoes at people. I find it highly unlikely actually that an investigation of this nature would have so many glaring holes in it - to the point of wondering if perhaps the investigative team in this story had actually been replaced after a page or two by the three stooges and you'd just missed that part.
The one thing I will say is that Fiona Barton does bring a deep authenticity to the subject she knows - that of Journalism. That's not to say the Press were not also a bit annoying but only in their normal must have the story press fashion and in fact the "Reporter" elements of the narrative were the ones I enjoyed the most. Kate was one of the few characters who was not either stupid or annoying. Kate and Eileen - the detectives wife who gets about 4 sentences in the entire novel and yet somehow manages to have more savvy and common sense than the rest of the cast put together - were people I could get behind.
The trouble is that I am overloaded with these types of novels perhaps. My problems with The Widow are similar to the problems a lot of readers had with The Girl on a Train and Disclaimer (two books that actually I loved so there's your reading mantra, we all see things differently) And it's nothing new. Its not even improved in my opinion. It just is what it is - a reasonable readable example of its thing - it didn't blow me away with a killer ending like The Sisters, it didn't do anything particularly insightful really, and there was kind of an emotional disconnect when it came to the thing that SHOULD have really gotten to me - the fact that a child was missing.
Bella. She was kind of secondary to the whole thing. Even the lead detective's angst about being unable to find her and his obsession with the case fell flat for me because I've seen it all before, and he was kind of one dimensional.
Burnt Paper Sky - a novel that deals with a lot of similar themes (The press, the internet, looking at it from a specific point of view in that case the Mother of the missing child rather than the widow of the accused) has done all this but better. With a real depth of emotion and a real feel for the subject material. In this readers opinion, The Widow, whilst it does have the edge on the Press point of view and has some fascinating engagement there - has done this genre by numbers and given us another book that has the same basic story as too many others that have been released in the last two years. Therefore unless it has something particularly special (and it CAN still be done believe me) it is not going to get my heart pumping.
The Gone Girl Wagon trail. It's a long and winding one it seems.
2* and a very subjective review.
Happy Reading Folks.