- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 24 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: February 16, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01A9A2VJS
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Widow Audiobook – Unabridged
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The problem I have is (and this seems to be recurring for me with some books these days) the media department of the publisher who has hyped and hyped this book as being in the vein of Gone Girl or Girl on the Train. IT IS NOT. Please don't expect it to be a twisty-turny plot with surprises. There are no surprises. Everyone knows from the get-go who did this. There is no last minute plot twist. It simply is a well-written story (not a mystery, not a "thriller") about the aforementioned three people most involved in the young girl's disappearance. The characters are well-written and pretty fleshed out. But what you read in the first couple chapters *is* the story.....the rest of the novel just takes you through how the characters deal with the fall-out.
If you're looking for a psychological thriller (which I wouldn't have been had not the publisher advertised it as such), you'll be disappointed. But if you just want an interesting story that is really just a look at people's lives while they deal with this tragedy, then you might enjoy it. So I knocked off a star for the marketing department....shame on them.
The Widow brings us into the life of Jean Taylor, who has recently become a widow when her husband was killed by a bus. As Jean tries to navigate this loss, she is bombarded by press and police alike. Why? Because her husband was also the number one suspect in the disappearance of a young, local girl several years ago. Jean always stood by his side, but now that he is gone, will the truth come to light?
This book could have been very interesting. I was intrigued by the idea of a woman trapped by a controlling monster, and who she will become now that he was gone. But it wasn't really like that at all.
I had several problems with this book. First, it was told from several different perspectives. This is not a problem in itself. I've read several books who employ this tactic, and if done skillfully, it can work really well. It did not work in this case. The 3 main perspectives we get are - The Widow, The Detective, and The Reporter. But only The Widow's is written in first person. The other 2 are done in 3rd person, and this can be a bit hard to read. It makes you continually stop and try and remember whose chapter this is. I am sure the author did this to establish Jean as the main character, but it really just didn't flow well.
Also, while I really enjoyed the chapters written from the detective's perspective (I read a lot of police procedurals and I thoroughly enjoy the solving of a crime aspect), I felt like the reporter's segments were just filler - to make the book longer. They didn't really add anything to the story. And I didn't care for the character of the reporter at all. And that's fine - there are going to be unlikeable characters in a book. But I felt like the author was trying to MAKE her likeable. There were constant references to how the people she wrote about would stay in touch with her and trust her, like she was a good friend to them. But the woman came across as very manipulative and self-serving to me. I didn't enjoy her chapters at all.
And, really, the main character wasn't hugely likeable either. I couldn't even muster up much sympathy for her. As the book goes on, we find out more and more about her husband, and he was a vile person, to be sure. But the way the book was set up, you kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. She's going to really turn things around. I guess she did technically kill her husband, but I kind of suspected that all along and the way it was done felt very anticlimactic. In the end, I didn't sense this big, powerful shift from her, just that she went a bit mad. And I don't know that she was ever going to expose the truth, if she hadn't been found out.
The author also randomly inserts a chapter or two from the POV of the grieving mother of the missing child, as well as Jean's husband, the alleged abductor. These not only felt like more filler, but the chapter from Glen's POV was really disturbing. I don't need to get that up close and personal with the mind of pedophile. I think it was a cheap way to reveal more about what happened to the girl, and it didn't pay off, IMO.
There was a real problem with the timeline and pacing as well. The book starts in present time, then takes us back to the time of the child's disappearance; then flits back and forth across the years. Again, this can work well if done right. But I felt like too much was revealed too soon. At the start of the book you know the husband is dead and isn't in jail. From fairly early on you know the child was never found. It's pretty easy to ascertain what is going to happen. There is no suspense, no fun reveals, very little build up. It's basically a slow burn to the inevitable.
The only reason I didn't get fewer stars is because the writing is pretty good and the concept was good in theory. But this story was just not executed well.
Jean Taylor is a perfect London housewife, a little untidy. Her husband, Glen, is controlling. He married her young and convinced her of his importance in the world. Most of it was a lie, but Jean doesn't seem particularly upset by that. In fact she's not particularly upset about much of anything, including the fact that Glen was just run over by a bus. What does upset her is the ever-present horde of reporters wanting to get her story.
It seems that Glen just may have kidnapped beautiful little Bella, who was out playing in her yard one minute and, the next minute, was gone.
Despite Bella's mother's tearful pleas on the media, and the dedicated detecting of Bob Sparks, no trace of Bella is ever found.
Glen is the prime suspect. His truck was seen in the area the day Bella was snatched. And there are other clues, as well. But nothing can be proved.
And so Jean and Glen continue to live their "normal" life, Bob Sparks continues to obsessively pursue the case, and crack reporter Kate Waters continues to pursue Jean for the real heretofore untold story.
How much does Jean really know? What did Glen really do? Was he the monster others thought him to be? What happened to little Bella? What can Bob Sparks discover from the midst of his own obsessions?
FIONA BARTON's carefully written tale explores the tale from three points of view: Jean's, Kate Waters', and Bob Sparks'.
For the record, contrary to the blurbs, THE WIDOW is not THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. In fact, I wish reviewers would stop plastering that on the covers of books. It is, however, a compellingly eerie story.
What's great about it? Lots. Here are the Top Ten Things That Are Great About THE WIDOW:
10. Fiona Barton can really write. Her sentences flow, the moods emerge from the pages, the story tracks well.
9. Mysteriously creepy. You'll be wondering until the very end. What did happen to Bella?
8. The many disguises of a monster. You've seen the little internet quizzes where you have to pick out the serial killer and you invariably pick the investment banker or the scout leader. The point is correct: it is not always easy to spot a monster.
7. Look in the dictionary under co-dependent and you will find pictures of Glen and Jean. He has his way things need to be done and she adapts. They stick together while they are not really together. The description of the dynamic is fascinating.
6. Something to ponder. Can you really live with someone day in and day out and not know who or what they really are?
5. Ever deal with someone who has excuses for every behavior? Nothing is ever his fault? Meet Glen. Be glad you didn't marry him.
4. Three story-lines are told in perfect balance with each other.
3. Character, character, character. Barton has come up with four wildly diverse characters: Jean, Glen, Kate Waters, and Bob Sparks. They are delicately drawn and understood.
2. A nice time capsule from 2006 - 2010.
1. The surprise. Wait for it.
No fair skipping ahead.
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Don and just as well but it will take some time with you