Book Review – The Widow by Fiona Barton

First published, 2016

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

“When I open the door, she hands me a bottle of milk from the doorstep and says, ‘You don’t want to leave that out, it’ll go off. Shall I come in? Have you got the kettle on?’
“I can’t breathe, let alone speak. She smiles again, head on one side. ‘I’m Kate,’ she says. ‘Kate Waters, a reporter from
The Daily Post.’
“‘I’m—‘ I start, suddenly realizing she hasn’t asked.
“‘I know who you are, Mrs Taylor,’ she says. Unspoken are the words: you are the story. ‘Let’s not stand out here,’ she says. And as she talks, somehow, she’s come in.”
1% in, Chapter One, The Widow by Fiona Barton

And so, it all begins. Jean, a former hairdresser, has been married to Glen, former banker, later a driver, since she was very young. So young, in fact, that her personality has been subsumed by his and all his actions become theirs.

When Glen becomes distant and starts living his life on the internet, Jean carries on with the household chores, with little to no understanding of the chatrooms with which her husband quietly engages. She certainly doesn’t know about the images on his computer, until the police take it away, and Glen has an explanation for everything: identity theft, malware, credit card cloning, something he stumbled onto, an addiction, it’s her fault.

Because Jean has always longed for a baby; she’s dreamt and scrapbooked her fantasy family for years. She’s always wanted children. And so has Glen. Just not in the same way.

But when a child goes missing on one of Glen’s driving routes, the evidence is only patchy, but Jean insists on standing by her man. But the press are parked in front of the house, clamouring for interviews, and she knows he wouldn’t take a child. He wouldn’t hurt a child. Would he?

Cleverly written with fascinating characters and a shocking storyline. I was in too much of a rush at first and didn’t read the dates at the beginning of each chapter as carefully as I should have. Entirely my fault, and that’s why I struggled to keep the storyline in place for a little while. Luckily, that only happened for the first few chapters, so I was able to go back and get the timeline straight in my head quite quickly. I read the rest of the book voraciously, and over the course of a day. Loved the writing. Even when the subject matter was difficult, it was handled with superior skill. A triumph.