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White Widow Hardcover – June, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This 10th novel from renowned anchorman Lehrer (The Last Debate; The Sooner Spy) trades journalism and Washington politics for the flat highways of 1950s Texas, where Jack T. "On Time" Oliver drives a Trailways bus between Houston and Corpus Christi-until his overactive imagination begins to shake his simple world apart. Lehrer fills this wistful tale with interesting details of bus line procedures and legends, the most central being the eponymous "White Widow," every bus driver's ultimate dream woman who comes aboard and changes his life. Jack is weeks away from receiving the honorary gold badge of the "master operator," recognizing his seniority and high level of service, when he meets his White Widow, a beautiful Ava Gardner look-alike who rides his bus on Fridays. Although they've exchanged only a few words, Jack begins to concoct love fantasies, losing his concentration as he longs for each Friday's run. His driving begins to suffer, and his wife suspects him of cheating. One stormy Friday, with "Ava" riding across from him in the "angel seat," the consequences of his obsession become dire and irreversible. Lehrer convincingly uses bus driver lore, drawing on memories of his college job as a ticket agent. His delicate portrayal of Jack's life and inner thoughts heightens the story's poignancy. With its tragic elements, simple narrative and strong undercurrent of myth, Lehrer's tale lingers in memory like a sorrowful ghost story.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Every week, Jack T. "On Time" Oliver drives his bus round trip from Houston to Corpus Christi and back. Now, in the late 1950s, he is about to receive his reward for faithful service, promotion to "master operator." He cherishes the uniform he wears and is proud of the slimness of his profile since he lost 70 pounds. He is married to the first and only woman he ever dated. Then a beautiful woman, a "white widow" in bus driver jargon, climbs aboard his bus one Friday, en route to the end of the line. In his thoughts, he names her "Ava," after actress Ava Gardner. Images of her confuse and obsess him; he dreams of a life he will never know. His distraction leads to disaster, exposing the fragility of his hold on happiness. PBS news anchor Lehrer (The Last Debate, LJ 8/95) has crafted an affecting story of a man who has anesthetized himself against the emptiness of his life but can do so no longer. Recommended for public libraries.?David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Thorndike Press Large Print Basic Series
  • Hardcover: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Pr; Lrg edition (June 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786210885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786210886
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,775,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As in classic tragedy, Master Operator (bus driver) Jack T. Oliver's fatal flaw - his attraction to a "white widow"- causes his inexorable fall from grace. Jim Lehrer's easy-going pace does not prepare the reader for the catastrophic events which ultimately occur. I highly recommend this not-too-long novel to fans of the classics and fans of suspense
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Format: Hardcover
WHITE WIDOW will sneak up on you.
'On Time' Jack Olsen is a well respected and well liked Bus driver in Texas.
He's a all around nice guy, with a nice house, and a even nicer wife.
Everything is fine until the 'White Widow' boards his bus..
Author Lehrer's despritions of the places and people of Texas are very effective. The story takes place in the 1950's, but there is nothing dated about WHITE WIDOW..
'On Time Jack' is much more complex then your average fictional character, his emortions, hidden away from his friends are troubling and very poignant.
Give WHITE WIDOW a try, i don't think you'll be disappointed..
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading and enjoying Lehrur's new title, "The Special Prisoner," I read "White Widow," a book about a bus driver obsessed with a beautiful, mysterious and unknown female passenger.
The bus driver let's his imagination get carried away to the extreme. My wife, who read the book, could hardly accept that a happily married man could become so obsessed.
I guess I would characterized "White Widow" as a story about ordinary, average folks living in South Texas, struggling with the same challenges we all face -- especially who we are and can we accept our ourselves and live in peace with ourselves.
"White Widow" is a great read which will generate a great deal of thought and conversation.
High recommended
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Format: Hardcover
White Widow is Jim Lehrer's succinct, unadorned yet poignant account of the life of a simple man Jack T. Oliver. Oliver residing in Corpus Christi, Texas, the son of a local ophthamologist is a proud and professional bus driver for the Great Western Trailways line. He is soon to be promoted to the exalted rank of Master Operator, a result of years of exemplary service. Never one with lofty aspirations, he is happily married to an equally simple wife who was his first and only love. His sole hobby, which he shares with his wife is the decoration of his humble abode for Christmas.
Oliver who possesses a fertile, Walter Mitty-like imagination is smitten with emotion when a gorgeous raven haired passenger boards his bus. Imagining her to be the beautiful Ava Gardner he pictures himself as her paramour. She evolves into a regular passenger on Fridays causing Oliver to lose focus on those things that were truly important to him, his job and his wife. His lack of concentration results in some disastrous repercussions to his existence.
White Widow was a nice easy read, written in a flowing style that paralleled the personality of the main character.
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By A Customer on July 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure I would like White Widow. After all, just how much of a story can one make of a bus driver and his secret fantasies about a beautiful passenger who chances to take his route? So I was surprised to find myself getting caught up in this tale, finding a growing interest in a character who should be, by all counts, a total bore. But it's how he gets set-up by his own fantasies, born from his hum-drum life, which intrigues. I ended up liking this story, despite a main character who is far, too far fixated on imaginary scenes from his hoped-for life. "That's progress, you see."
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Format: Paperback
This is a story that starts out rather slow, but builds up into a writhing tale that reaches a climax that will leave the reader stunned. Jim can really write a good yarn. My major interest is non-fiction, but I would recommend this book to anyone. It illustrates real human emotions and how people deal with them. Also, it shows the dangers that arise when we cease to live in reality. A must read!
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Format: Hardcover
I was very pleased that I picked up White Widow --it was not the type of book I usually read --it was very small town and a subject that would ordinarily not interest me --but Jim Lehrer tells a wonderful and compelling story and it left me with a good sense of post-war rural texas and what Lehrer experienced working for a bus company
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Format: Hardcover
It never occurred to me to consider Lehrer's THE WHITE WIDOW as a mystery when I gave it a very favorable review in the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. As mainstream fiction, THE WHITE WIDOW is a most satisfactory novel about life along the Texas Coast during the heydey of bus travel--an era sadly past. Lehrer, who worked as a ticket agent in Victoria, Texas, back in the 1950s, knows the ins and outs of the bus business and makes his bus drivers and their world seem real and important. This is Lehrer's best novel, and it offers a nice complement to his non-fiction A BUS OF MY OWN. Jim Lehrer's father once owned a bus line in--as I remember it--Kansas, so Jim Lehrer knows the business better than anybody writing today. His collection of bus memorabilia is extensive--he even owns an old Flxible, the bus that clocked millions of passenger miles in an era that Jim Lehrer and I hold dear to our hearts
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