Sunday, 24 January 2016

Review - The Widow by Fiona Barton

There’s a reason why everyone’s talking about The Widow by Fiona Barton right now and a reason why it’s being displayed so prominently in bookshops up and down the UK. It’s because this debut novel is absolutely incredible - psychological thriller fiction at its absolute finest. As I may have mentioned once or twice, I’m a massive fan of psychological thriller novels but The Widow wasn’t like the rest. It was quite unique and a book that I’m pretty sure is going to be a major success. 

One October day little Bella Elliott who was left alone for just a few minutes by her mother, Dawn Elliott, was taken from her front garden. Within hours of Bella being reported missing a police investigation is launched and a media campaign started to find her and, perhaps more importantly, the person responsible for her disappearance. Investigating many leads it’s not long before the police and media turn up on the doorstep of Jean and Glen Taylor asking questions and wanting answers. Answers they get but not until some several years later when Jean, freed from the clutches of her husband following his death, starts talking. 

Told from the perspective of several characters - Jean (The Widow), Kate Waters (The Reporter), Bob Sparkes (The Detective), Dawn Elliott (The Mother) and Glen (The Husband) - this is a truly compelling novel that had me hooked. Once I’d got into the pattern of the book and it jumping between the past and the present I became glued to its pages, carrying it around with me in my handbag every day and reading it at every opportunity I got. It was not a predictable novel in the slightest, I created so many theories and was proved wrong so many times and could never have said that it would end the way it did. 

What made The Widow really stand out for me was the fact that the main focus of the novel wasn’t the victim or the accused which is all too common in books of its genre. Instead its focus was very much on Jean (The Widow) and how she coped with her husband being accused of a terrible crime. I also liked the way in which this book gave us a very real insight into the world of the media, something that was to be expected given that Fiona once worked in the industry. It gave me an appreciation and understanding of how they respond to such a major event and caused me to completely rethink the misconceptions I had of journalists. 

I was super lucky and grateful to receive a copy of this book, thanks to Ben Willis at the publishers, to review, but having seen it in shops must say what a brilliant job has been done on the final cover. It’s relatively simple but uses the perfect combination of colours to make it stand out from the crowd. 

It’s clear that Fiona Barton is an exceptional author and I’m already looking forward to reading whatever she writes next.