Debut Novelist Fiona Barton Shocks Readers in ‘The Widow’ [REVIEW]


When a man is accused of abducting a child, the public wants to know, “How much does the wife really know?” Find out in Fiona Barton’s THE WIDOW. (Photo by eflon, Flickr)

Four lives are irrevocably intertwined when a husband is accused of abducting a young child in Fiona Barton’s The Widow. As the story unfolds everywhere in the news, two significant questions dance on everyone’s lips: “How could the wife not know what her husband was doing? And how much does she really know that she isn’t saying?”

Fiona Barton's THE WIDOW


Barton gradually pulls back the curtain on the story as only a talented journalist can. Throughout the novel, four main characters tell the story in an ominous dance of light and shadow. There’s the wife, Jean Taylor; her husband, Glen; a journalist, Kate Waters; and a police officer, Bob Sparkes. Together, they gradually reveal the subtle nuances of the case, keeping the reader guessing until the very end.

One thing I have learned reading books by so many different authors from around the world, is that each writer has his or her own way of crafting a story. In this case, Barton deftly uses various vantage points to reveal the dark heart of the novel. She also masterfully captures the essence of the title character, the widow, Jean, as her emotions and intelligence are slowly unveiled.

As the journalist, Kate, states regarding Jean, “I think she is stuck between what she knows and what she wants to believe” (303). This line of reasoning highlights the widow’s deep-seated psychological scars, particularly as gut-wrenching revelations bubble forth regarding her marriage and Glen’s unseemly behavior.

Readers will be torn as the story unfolds, and they will undoubtedly be caught between conflicting emotions of compassion and disgust, as I was. Fiona Barton’s The Widow is thought provoking, psychologically intense and well plotted. This novel marks the fiction debut of a climbing literary star!


Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton
(Photo by Jenny Lewis)


Fiona Barton didn’t start out as a novelist. “My career has taken some surprising twists and turns over the years,” she writes on her website.

Before publishing The Widow, she worked for years as an award-winning journalist for numerous newspapers, including the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

But then Barton left those jobs behind to volunteer in Sri Lanka. Since 2008, she has trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists around the world.

Now she is busy at work on her second novel. She lives with her husband and their cockerel, Sparky, in southwest France. Visit her home on the web, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

By Fiona Barton
336 pgs. NAL. $26.

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

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