WYSO

Book Nook: The Widow, by Fiona Barton

Mar 9, 2016

Jean Taylor is "the widow" of the title and she's also our unreliable narrator. As the story begins Jean is newly widowed-her husband has just been run over by a bus. Jean is in great demand, the tabloid press is camped out at her house hoping for an interview. Glen, Jean's late husband, had been acquitted in a trial after being accused of abducting a small child from her front yard. The child was never seen again and even though Glen was the leading suspect it could not be proved that he actually did it.

So they let him off. Then the bus got him. Everybody wants to talk to "The Widow" about that. One reporter actually obtains an exclusive interview with Jean. As the story proceeds we begin to have our doubts about Jean, and Glen, and lots of other things. They had a weird marriage and as Jean describes her thoughts and feelings we start to recognize that there's much more to this story than our narrator is willing to admit.

Fiona Barton, the author, had a long career as a journalist in the United Kingdom. She spent many hours observing courtroom proceedings and she became intrigued by the drama that unfolded during trials. This led to a fascination with the behavior of the families of the accused. It was one thing to witness the demeanor of the accused. It was quite another thing to watch the facial expressions and body language of the spouses of those individuals who were on trial, people like Jean Taylor. 

Barton's experiences as a journalist and courtroom observer inform this novel, her literary debut. "The Widow" is a winner and the author is a writer to watch.