THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton
The book I want to talk you about today is THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton that is the first read of the CBTB book Club on Goodreads ( find the link at the very bottom of the page) created by the sweet Abby from Crime by the book. She own an instagram feed and a blog named after it and every recommendation she made is always good to me so I basically choose my crime/thriller based on how she rate them.
THE WIDOW is presented as a mix between Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train and indeed it falls in the category of mariage-gone-wrong or sick-love that is so famous right now. This book tells the story of Jean Taylor, a "mouse" woman , I would say. I deeply hated her from the beginning. She completely lack of personality and determination and lives transported by the flow and totally dependent on her husband Glen, that instead, has far too much personality and decides every aspect of his wife's life. Manipulator and skillful with words like few, Glen succeeds (with not too much difficulty, I ought say) to convince Jean of his innocence in a crime that according to the police and the public opionion, he commited. A monster for all but for his faithful wife. Totally dependent on her husband Jean finds herself suddenly alone after a car accident that kills Glen and for the first time in her life, she is free. From invisible woman and obedient wife, she becomes the most coveted widow for all the major newspapers. They all want to know the truth about Glen. She is a victim after all...isn't she?
The crime and the culprit are quite clear after a few chapters and in the end are not even the heart of the story.
The whys and the hows that fill Jean's mind are the story itself, the major component of this delightful psychological thriller. The Widow is an intense and carefully constructed book, Jean and Glen are stripped to show how a triggering event may result in completely different reactions in opposite kind of personality. I liked that even to Glen "the monster" is given the chance to explain himself, to make us understand and to see the all story from his point of view and I must say that it struck me to realize that even Glen is scared by himself. I also appreciate how difficult was to understand Jean real thought, I spend all the time trying to understand if she was pretending or not and untill the very end it was really hard to say. The alternation between Jean flashbacks and police investigations that I often find tedious and boring because interupt the "funny" part of the story in this case are well described and balanced and I find myself to equally want to know about Glen's life AND police investigations.
Page after page, the style is relentless. As I said the all book is a mix between flashbacks of history told by Jean and present times. Barton is carefull to providie small and juicy informations about Glen's story which will result in the big final explanation on the last chapter. Until the end the suspense is thick, in a crescendo that lead you on the edge of the chair. At 50 pages from the end I had the curiosity to know, but I was unsure if I really wanted to. Someone said the THE WIDOW is like "... and now let's talk about Kevin" and to some extent it is. It's provocative and introspective and is all about truth, the kind we hide from ourself. Fiona Barton scours the human psyche and the most brutal of our instincts, in a struggle between desire and duty that is carried on the fine line between madness and reality.
Now go out, and get this book. Absolutely recommended!