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Ratings and Reviews

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3.8 out of 5
(11)
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    okay read, but was expecting WOW

    The advance reviews for this book lean heavily toward comparing it to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, calling it an electrifying thriller. While I certainly enjoyed it, it was much slower than Gone Girl, more predictable than The Girl on the Train, and certainly wasn't an electrifying read. It was a good read, interesting, but misses the wow factor found in Gone Girl. As a debut novel, it is certainly very well-written (if a little too lengthy), but didn't grab me the same as Gone Girl did. That book had twists to keep you guessing, and The Widow was much more predicable. Did anyone really believe that Glen didn't do it? I enjoyed the shifts between narrators as it changed your perspective of Jean a bit and at some points in the book you start to think she's really that naïve. At some points the story dragged on, such as the police “entrapment” section as well as Glen's continually declaring his porn addiction being normal. Also, about halfway through the book I had had enough with Jean's whining about her discontent. I was looking for something more surprising Overall, my expectations were high, and this book was a bit of disappointment.
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    Multiple Perspectives on Child Abduction

    3.5 stars Glen Taylor, accused but not convicted of the 2006 abduction of two-year-old Bella Elliott, is struck by a bus and killed four years later. Fiona Barton's The Widow moves back and forth between these two events and is narrated from the perspectives of three main characters: DI Bob Sparkes, the lead detective still haunted by Bella's disappearance; Kate Waters, the reporter who covered Bella's case and sees Glen's death as an opportunity to revive the story; and Jean, the titular widow, who may, or may not, know more about her husband's actions than she is willing to admit. The sections featuring Sparkes and Kate are written in the third person, while Jean narrates her own sections. In interviewing Barton for The Huffington Post, Mark Rubinstein observes that "[o]ne narrator in The Widow is not very reliable," and Barton's decision to have only Jean speak in the first person makes it clear who that unreliable narrator is. In response, Barton describes what she hoped to accomplish: "It’s a wonderful experience to be reading a story and think you’ve got things all figured out, and then suddenly, it all goes upside-down on you. The events can have far more impact with an unreliable narrator. It’s something of an adrenaline rush to have one’s expectations upended, and to see a story veer off in an unpredictable direction." Barton's failure to achieve her purpose made The Widow only a 3.5-star read for me. While there is a small, and fairly irrelevant, twist at the end, The Widow never "goes upside-down" or "veer[s] off in an unpredictable direction"; I knew what happened to Bella from the start, and whether Jean knew the truth was also obvious. The challenge lies in trying to resolve the ambiguities of Jean's character and how the reader feels about her; those interested in the multiplicity of reader reactions may want to check out the discussion on the Goodreads Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group board. The Widow is well-written, but it lacks the psychological depth of Gone Girl and the twists of The Girl on the Train, to both of which the publisher has compared it (comparisons, by the way, which long ago wore out their usefulness). There are better novels out there, with truly unreliable narrators, but one could do worse than to spend some time with Barton's debut. I received a free copy of The Widow through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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    Hard to put down

    Intrigued by the characters and the way the story is told. Like a bad auto wreck or crime scene....you feel you shouldn`t look but you just can't keep from looking. Story takes you somewhere you never want to be, but you can't keep from turning the page and following to the surprising end.
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    This novel lacks suspense!

    The Widow by Fiona Barton is supposed to be a suspense/mystery novel but it does not succeed. The book starts out in June of 2010. Jean Taylor’s husband was hit by a bus. Jean is sorry to lose her husband, but the scandal before his death was overwhelming. Glen Taylor was accused of kidnapping and killing a little girl (Bella Elliott). The police (especially Detective Inspector Bob Sparkes) could not prove that Glen committed the crime and now they may never find the out the truth. Kate Waters is a reporter with the Daily Post. She wants to get Jean’s story for their newspaper. Kate gets through the door and convinces Jean to sell her story to the Daily Post. We get to find out what Jean actually knew about Glen’s activities (the book then goes back to 2006). Did Glen kidnap and murder Bella Elliott? Can Jean lead the police to the body to give closure to Bella’s mother, Dawn? The Widow is a slow moving book. It reminded me of oxen pulling a covered wagon across the open prairie (a long, slow journey). The writing itself is okay, but I found it lacking. The book is very dull with no action and a lousy ending. The first 17% of the book is just about Jean and her life with Glen. There is no action or mention of Glen’s crimes. The book goes back and forth from the present to the past. We get to see how Glen and Jean met, their life, etc. We also find out about Bella and her mother, Dawn. The police investigation into the crime. There is no suspense (not a page-turner). The book does not hold your attention. I give The Widow 1.5 out of 5 stars. The basic concept (the crime) is interesting, but the writer did not do a good job developing it. I received a complimentary copy of The Widow from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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