Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

Title - The Widow
Author - Fiona Barton
Publication Date - January 14th 2016 (Paperback August 25th)
Publisher - Transworld
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 416

We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs - the woman who stands by him?

Jean Taylor's life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she'd ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she's alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

I have an insatiable hunger for psychological thrillers right now, and I'm being deadly serious when I say that I cannot get enough of them. A cluster of passionate bloggers had been raving about The Widow by Fiona Barton over on Twitter which is when it originally caught my attention, and after kindly being sent a proof copy via the marketing team, I was more than ready to dive in head first and see what all the fuss was about.

The Widow by Fiona Barton is one of those novels that have you feeling like you can't really breathe. Claustrophobic, overwhelming, but at the same time you just can't bring yourself to put it down for fear of missing out on some vital piece of information, because that vital piece of information could quite possibly be the undoing of the entire mystery... Or could it? Who knows? I found myself reading this novel extra-carefully, trying to unpick and unravel Barton's words to find the clues that would lead me to the truth, but so full of dead-ends and red-herrings, it was impossible for me to know whether I was right, or whether I was, in fact, wrong. Each and every single time it turned out to be the latter. A trickster, Barton reeled me in completely and had me hanging on the very edge of her every word. I was compelled to keep reading, all the while drowning in this world full of accusations, investigations and lost in a 'did he, didn't he?' daze. The further I fell into this twisted spider web of a novel, the harder it became for me to untangle myself and climb back out. I took The Widow everywhere with me, including a bubble bath in which I almost dropped the book when the plot took a heart-hammering turn! Impossible to put down and ignore, it was glued to my hands for pretty much the entire duration of me reading it. I was riveted.

In the most gripping of ways, Barton chooses for this novel to be told through alternating narratives, not only that of Jean Taylor, but of Glen who is the accused, the mother of an abducted child, and the detectives who are working tirelessly on the case. Reeling me in like this, drawing me as up close and personal to these characters as possible, I felt like I knew each of them inside out. The Widow, Jean Taylor, was a woman I was fascinated by. I watched her every move, I watched how she communicated with her husband, I watched how she'd go about her day and I'd listen desperately to the words she spoke. I was trying, with all of my bloody might, to catch someone out, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't do it. It was frustrating to say the least, but only added to my eagerness to reach the moment of truth. Barton is master at deceit, at those dark and overpowering atmospheres. There were topics raised within the novel that may not sit comfortably for some. Even I, at times, found it painful to read, but the realness left me reeling and dizzy and thinking about this novel even now.

I can't wait to read Fiona Barton's next book. If it's anything like this, then I just know that I'll need to get myself a copy. Possibly the definition of a psychological thriller? If not, then I'd say that it's certainly not far off. I absolutely loved it, and so will be rating The Widow by Fiona Barton with five stars.



  1. I think i know the twist you are talking about and it made me re-think the whole book. Actually, that happened twice. I loved this book so much. It was just a masterclass in storytelling.

    1. Brilliant, wasn't it? So glad you thought so too. Fiona is definitely one to look out for!