The Widow by Fiona Barton

February 11th, 2016 Kimberly Review 60 Comments

11th Feb
The Widow by Fiona Barton
The Widow
by Fiona Barton
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Thriller
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife. When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen... But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore. There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment. Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage. The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

CRIME HEARTBREAKING mystery well written

The Widow by Fiona Barton shares the tale from the perspective of a wife whose husband has been accused of committing a heinous crime. One often wonders if the spouse knew what their significant other was up to, if they aided them or turned a blind eye. The Widow shares with us such a case.

Through the voice of widow Jean Taylor, Bob Sparkes the lead detective and those of journalist, Kate Waters and the mother of the victim we gain firsthand knowledge as Barton unraveled the mysteries surrounding the case. The synopsis does not mention the crime, so I am not going to divulge that in my review. I will say that Glenn Taylor is suspected of a crime that most will find horrifying, unthinkable and particularly heinous.

Whenever a particularly gruesome new story makes the headlines, you often wonder if the parents, wife or siblings knew about the violent acts, their loved one was committing. We think the same thing when a spouse is cheating. How could the wife/husband not know? I think in retrospect there are signs. Barton does a suspenseful job of showing the many sides of Jean Taylor. She made her decisions, actions and struggles seem authentic.

The timeline goes back and forth between the present and the time of the crime, both through the character’s retelling and the detective’s case. While the crime was horrific, Barton spared readers the gruesome details and for once, I was beyond grateful. We skirted the darkness and I still shuttered.

Barton allows readers to understand Jean Taylor, her marriage and her reaction as events unfolded. We saw the subtle manipulation, the cracks that began to appear and began to understand Jean’s psyche. It was a brilliant case study.

I really wish this was not marketed as the next Girl on the Train or Gone Girl . The Widow is not a twisted/big-reveal type thriller. Jean does surprise us, but I think marketing did Barton a disservice. The Widow falls more in the mystery genre. It is very well written but I fear people will be expecting something different. I became caught up in the case and its characters and wasn’t disappointed but I did go into it with the wrong expectations. I cried for the victim and cringed as we went through the court trial and learned more about Glenn. Barton brought Bob Sparkes to life and I felt the weight this case had on him and his family. I felt for the victim’s mother even as I mentally scolded her. Surprisingly while I didn’t care for Jean, I did sympathize with her and can understand why the mind turns a blind eye, even if subconsciously we know the dark answer. Some knowledge is too great to bear.

The Widow wrapped up nicely giving readers the answers they desperately needed. Forget Gone Girl and the Girl on the Train. The Widow is an engaging mystery that brings us into the heart of a marriage as we gain answer to what really happened.

About Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton

Fiona’s career has taken some surprising twists and turns over the years. She been a journalist – senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards,  she gave up her job to volunteer in Sri Lanka and since 2008, has trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists all over the world. But through it all, a story was cooking in her head. The worm of this book infected her long ago when, as a national newspaper journalist covering notorious crimes and trials, she found herself wondering what the wives of those accused really knew – or allowed themselves to know. It took the liberation of her career change to turn that fascination into a tale of a missing child, narrated by the wife of the man suspected of the crime, the detective leading the hunt, the journalist covering the case and the mother of the victim. Much to her astonishment and delight, The Widow is available now in the UK, and around the world in the coming months. However, the sudden silence of her characters feels like a reproach and she is currently working on a second book. Fiona and her husband are living the good life in south-west France, where she writes in bed, early in the morning when the only distraction is their cockerel, Sparky, crowing.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly

Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She’s a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat…Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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60 Responses to “The Widow by Fiona Barton”

  1. Priscilla

    It definitely stinks that it’s marketed as the next GG and GotT. I doubt it’s the only way to garner attention. Your review alone makes me want to add it to my tbr pile 🙂

    Priscilla recently posted: Dream Killing: Review
  2. Nick

    I really don’t like when publishers use the comparison marketing tool. Like you said, when it doesn’t turn out to be that way, the book winds up suffering because the reader has these expectations.
    Anyways, I love that you were so vague as to the nature of the crime. Now, that is an effective way to get me to pick up a book!
    Great review, Kim!

  3. Kristin

    I really have a problem with marketing at publishing houses sometimes. It really does a disservice to authors who often feel the backlash in reviews, and it’s not even their fault. UGH. This sounds wonderful, though!! What a great idea for a book, as heinous (I love that word – word of the day, I will make it – yes, I Yoda’d that) as it sounds.

    Kristin recently posted: Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
  4. Jenny

    First, I love the simplicity of this cover. It’s gorgeous and haunting and I want to know more about this woman who’s blurred enough that I can’t make out any details about her.

    Second, it sounds amazing! I definitely want to get to know Jean, and I know it will make me ask myself if I would notice the signs were I in her shoes. Definitely adding this to the list Kim!

    Jenny recently posted: Review: Murder of Crows
  5. Felicia GeekyBlogger (

    I had been avoiding this one because of the comparisons (since neither of those twists worked for me) but after reading your review I want to read it. I always think there are many victims in crimes (especially serial ones). Sometimes those victims include the perps closest friends/family and they are least likely to get sympathy. They are victims of absorbing some of the blame for what the other did. Do they know (and not talking about this case) in hindsight– maybe but in most cases serial perps are so good at blending that I highly doubt it. This is on my library hold list.

    Felicia GeekyBlogger ( recently posted: Movie/TV Review: Jessica Jones (Netflix)
  6. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I am disappointed by those who market so many books with that “Gone Girl, Girl on the Train” comparison. It does a disservice to the books.

    I enjoyed this one, and I tried not to have that comparison in my mind while reading it…the book is very different from those notable mentions.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted: AUTHOR’S HOME PAGE
  7. Ksenia

    Publishers often do a disservice for books by marketing them as “the next this book” or “for fans of that book”. As a result potential readers form wrong expectations and end up disappointed. I’m not sure this book is for me, but I glad you liked it. Great review, Kim!

    Ksenia recently posted: Blog vs. GR
  8. Lexxie

    I am going to have to read The Widow, Kim! It sounds really good, and you’re right, we often wonder, don’t we? I think sometimes looking back we can see signs we didn’t see when things were happening, but at the same time, over a long period, it seems almost impossible that those closest to a person won’t suspect anything at all.
    Great review! Adding to my TBR right now 🙂

  9. Ethan

    This sounds like a solid mystery, but I agree with you about not liking that it is marketed as the next Gone Girl. Ever since that book it seems like every new mystery written by a female author is the next Gone Girl. And they all have Girl in the title haha. I just got a copy of The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, so we’ll see if this one follows the trend.

    Ethan recently posted: Joyland by Stephen King
  10. Katherine

    It seems like everything that’s even slightly dark and twisted is compared to Gone Girl. It’s definitely a disservice. This does sound interesting despite the comparison and I find the whole concept fascinating. Anytime something horrible happens you always see a picture of the shell shocked wife. A story from her perspective would be interesting.

  11. Bookworm Brandee

    I like a book that makes you question, Kimberly. And that is something Gone Girl did for me – made me question how well you really ever know someone. The Widow sounds interesting…maybe even more so that Gone Girl did to me. But I don’t like marketing campaigns where the publisher compares the book to other famous books. A book should be able to stand on its own and it seems it happens so often that books suffer from those comparisons. :/ Anyway, I’m happy you enjoyed The Widow and I’ll definitely consider picking it up. 😀

  12. Cyn

    I feel like when books get hyped as the next “blah blah” or X meets Y, I’m always a little weary. I’m glad that there were still highlights that stood out in this story (and that some of the gruesome details were spared!)! Great review, Kim.

  13. Kathy

    I completely agree about it being more mystery instead of thriller in the Gone Girl vein. I was a bad girl and revealed the crime, though. I debated on whether to or not but kept seeing red flags and trigger warnings all over it.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      If she had been more descriptive I would have, but I think she kept things in the safe zone. I tried to stick to my no-spoiler policy. In retrospect I could have added a hidden spoiler. Many on Goodreads gave it away so you are not alone.

  14. Jess

    I don’t remember hearing of this one, but I love a good mystery and this sounds interesting. I have often wondered about the family members of people who have been accused of terrible crimes, so I am intrigued. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Jess recently posted: Caught in a Spell!