The Widow by Fiona Barton

74%

50 Critic Reviews

A few critics have noted that Barton tips her hand too soon. While that might be a first-time novelist's mistake, it might also be the deliberate work of a professional observer who knows that the lies we tell ourselves can be more devastating than those we tell others.
-NPR

Synopsis

A loving husband or a heartless killer...she'd know, wouldn't she?

There's a lot Jean hasn't said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with accusing glares and anonymous harassment. Now her husband is dead, and there's no reason to stay quiet. People want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them 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. For the reporter who has secured the exclusive interview, this is the scoop of a lifetime. For the detective who has lived a half-life since he failed to get justice for the victim, it is a chance to get at the truth that has eluded him for so long. For Jean, it's a chance to defend herself, what she knew--and when.
     This is the tale of a missing child, narrated by the wife of the main suspect, the detective leading the hunt, and the journalist covering the case. It's a brilliantly ominous, psychologically acute portrait of a marriage in crisis--perfect for fans of The Silent Wife and The Girl on the Train.
 

About Fiona Barton

See more books from this Author
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a 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 British Press Awards. The Widow is her first novel.












Author Residence: Oxford, United Kingdom
 
Published February 16, 2016 by Berkley. 340 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon12
Peak Rank on Mar 06 2016
icon4
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Widow
All: 50 | Positive: 37 | Negative: 13

Kirkus

Below average
on Dec 08 2015

The idea of a woman who stands beside an alleged monster is an intriguing one, and very nearly well-executed here, if it weren't bogged down with other too-familiar plotlines.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Mar 21 2016

Though Barton stumbles slightly down the homestretch, tipping what should be her biggest bombshell, she tells her tale with a realism and restraint that add to its shattering impact.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Bethanne Patrick on Feb 18 2016

A few critics have noted that Barton tips her hand too soon. While that might be a first-time novelist's mistake, it might also be the deliberate work of a professional observer who knows that the lies we tell ourselves can be more devastating than those we tell others.

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All About Romance

Above average
Reviewed by Maggie Boyd on Mar 06 2016

Compelling and addictive more than it is riveting, The Widow slowly sucks the reader in. I think the slow start and leisurely pace might be a turn off for those looking for an instant thrill, but if you are willing to put in the work the pay off, in the end, is worth it. It certainly left me thinking about it long after I put the book down.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jeff Ayers on Feb 29 2016

Barton’s writing is compelling and top-notch, which is rarely seen in a first novel, but the story line provides few of the surprises expected in a thriller.

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Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on Feb 04 2016

...“The Widow” is always a fast-paced, highly readable novel. Often it engrosses with puzzles that grip the attention, but it has relatively little of the suspense that can have readers sitting on the edge of their seats, or the insight that enlightens the dark world of men who steal little girls.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Feb 15 2016

Evidence slides into place, but nothing fundamentally shifts the paradigm in a way that will jar the reader. That might not make television audiences gasp in the same way, but there’s still plenty of suspense that promises to make The Widow as effective for binge watching as it is as a page-turner.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Leah Greenblatt on Feb 17 2016

Switching between various vantage points—The Reporter, The Detective, The Mother—and hopscotching across timelines, Barton skillfully loops her narrative noose.

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All About Romance

Above average
Reviewed by Maggie Boyd on Mar 05 2016

Compelling and addictive more than it is riveting, The Widow slowly sucks the reader in. I think the slow start and leisurely pace might be a turn off for those looking for an instant thrill, but if you are willing to put in the work the pay off, in the end, is worth it.

Read Full Review of The Widow | See more reviews from All About Romance

The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Rachael Pells on Feb 03 2016

But what takes this novel from good to brilliant has to be Barton's uncanny female perspective. Detective Bob Sparkes is likeable but that's easy enough – he's the good cop fighting for justice with the support of thousands of public rubberneckers. It's the crafty intelligence and empathy seen in reporter Kate...

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Suzi Feay on Jan 17 2016

She cleverly details how each individual copes with a long investigation without ever lessening the tension. The Widow is a tribute to those professionals who never let go of a story, or a case, however cold.

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20Something Reads

Above average
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on Feb 19 2016

Be warned: THE WIDOW is an emotionally powerful novel. None of the characters emerge from the ending in quite the same state as they entered, and I daresay any reader won’t either.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Mary Cadden on Feb 28 2016

And here is where the brilliance of The Widow lies. Whom do you trust? Whom can you trust? And not just others but ourselves as well. The Widow reminds us that relationships are not black and white to those in them — they're forever grey.

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Salon

Below average
Reviewed by Jeff Ayers on Feb 29 2016

Barton’s writing is compelling and top-notch, which is rarely seen in a first novel, but the story line provides few of the surprises expected in a thriller. The plot is basically straightforward...

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CK2S Kwips and Kritiques

Good
Reviewed by Marilyn Rondeau on Feb 11 2016

Nope, I don’t give away spoilers, but I will say, reading THE WIDOW, will totally engross and captivate a reader right to the very surprising end.

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Library Journal

Above average
Reviewed by LJ REVIEWS on Feb 04 2016

Though the characters are flatly drawn, the mystery of what actually happened to Bella and whether Glen’s death was an accident will draw in readers until the final page. ­

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Mail Online

Above average
Reviewed by Associated Press on Feb 29 2016

Barton's writing is compelling and top-notch, which is rarely seen in a first novel, but the story line provides few of the surprises expected in a thriller. The plot is basically straightforward, but the main focus becomes not whether Glen Taylor is guilty or innocent but how well does Jean truly know her husband?

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Lancashire Evening Post

Good
Reviewed by Pam Norfolk on Jan 14 2016

The Widow is a brilliant first novel, intelligent, unsettling and utterly compelling, and written with the control, assurance and mastery of a seasoned author. Don’t miss it!

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ReviewingtheEvidence.com

Above average
Reviewed by Yvonne Klein on Feb 01 2016

A bonus is the author's professional examination of the nuances of the effects of publicity on those who, however briefly, are in the spotlight. In short, no tricks here, but a very satisfying, even provocative, read.

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theSundaily

Good
Reviewed by Yeevon Ong on Mar 09 2016

Author Fiona Barton, a former journalist, uses her years of experience to fully illustrate scenes involving Kate’s actions in and out of the newsroom, as well as her relationship with the detective. For her debut novel, Barton does set a rather impressive bar for her future portfolio.

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Sunshine Coast Daily

Excellent
Reviewed by Ann Rickard on Mar 12 2016

I read it in one gulp, letting the dishes and the laundry pile up, the dinner uncooked. Nothing could stop me from turning the pages as fast I could until the very last word.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Above average
Reviewed by Yvonne Klein on Mar 29 2016

A bonus is the author's professional examination of the nuances of the effects of publicity on those who, however briefly, are in the spotlight. In short, no tricks here, but a very satisfying, even provocative, read.

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https://bookpage.com

Good
Reviewed by Lori K. Joyce on Feb 16 2016

Through the three-pronged narrative, The Widow examines the depths of what spouses really know about each other and how they respond to each other’s needs. It also serves as a cautionary tale of Internet exposure.

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Booking Mama

Good
Reviewed by Julie P. on Feb 22 2016

Overall, I really liked THE WIDOW and I definitely recommend it to fans of psychological suspense and mysteries.

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That's What She Read

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on Feb 17 2016

The Widow is the perfect novel for a quiet weekend afternoon or a readathon. It should also come with a warning label that it can induce book hangover, especially if you start it in the evening...

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http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com

Above average
Reviewed by Kimberly on Feb 11 2016

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.

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A Bookworm's World

Good
Reviewed by Luanne on Feb 16 2016

The Widow was an utterly addictive read that I couldn't put down. What a great debut - I'm already looking forward to Barton's next book.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com

Below average
Reviewed by Lisa Scottoline on Feb 07 2016

I was never bored for a moment, but “The Widow” is not without flaws. It feels underwritten and somewhat slight...

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Smart B***s Trashy Books

Good
Reviewed by Elyse on Feb 25 2016

I don’t want to say much more about this book because it will ruin it–that’s why I opted for a lightning review even though I could talk about the The Widow for hours.

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Popcorn Reads

Good
Reviewed by MK on Mar 01 2016

It's easy to see why The Widow is an international bestseller. It's got all the hallmarks of a great classic...

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Chick Lit Central

Above average
Reviewed by Jami Deise on Feb 17 2016

...a laudable first effort. But I was expecting something more like a Liane Moriarty tale, and it can’t be measured with that yardstick. Despite its shortcomings, I enjoyed The Widow...

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Kritters Ramblings

Above average
Reviewed by Kristin Jones on Feb 22 2016

If you have a hard time reading books with kidnapping and a little kid drama, then this one may not be for you, but if you are an avid mystery reader add this one to your pile as it will be different then the rest.

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Errant Dreams Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Heather on Jan 27 2016

I became very engrossed in the lives of these people, and highly recommend the book for those who want to dive deep into the characters from a thriller rather than focus on the violence.

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Chrisbookarama

Above average
on Mar 14 2016

The Widow isn't just a straight up thriller. It is a look at the psychology behind the loyalties of the partners of people accused of terrible crimes and the things they tell themselves to stick by them.

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Just a Lil' Lost...

Good
Reviewed by Michele on Feb 15 2016

Barton keeps readers wondering about the truth to the very end, and I certainly thought at many points that I had figured it out only to have to readjust my theories.

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https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by Christine Frayling on Jan 27 2016

I found this a hard book to put down and as I read each chapter I was spurred on to find out the who and why regarding Bella Elliot’s disappearance and possible death. The ending was a bit of a surprise, but a welcome one, as it wrapped the story up quite neatly.

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Journey of a Bookseller

Above average
Reviewed by Jo Ann Hakola on Jan 16 2016

I wasn't sure where this story was going and I found it a bit sad overall. Life can be like that. But some secrets come out whether you want them to or not.

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Chick Lit Plus

Excellent
Reviewed by Samantha on Feb 16 2016

It was twisted, it was heart-pounding, it was beautifully written and insanely hard to put down. I encourage you that even if you are like me and stick with chick lit and some lighter fiction, step outside of your comfort zone and pick this one up.

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Bookpleasures.com

Above average
Reviewed by Ekta R. Garg on Feb 10 2016

The constant story switches may frustrate some readers and confuse others. They may also contribute to an ending that feels anticlimactic, although it certainly answers all of the story questions Barton poses in the beginning.

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A Bookish Affair

Above average
Reviewed by Meg on Feb 16 2016

Overall, this was a pretty good thriller. I really wanted a little more closure at the end of the book because it felt a little bit rushed.

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https://mysterypeople.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by Meike Alana on Mar 09 2016

...The Widow deserves to stand on its own merits because of Barton’s outstanding writing. The plot is complex, the pace of the novel is brisk, and the prose succinct.

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Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Good
Reviewed by NKP on Feb 16 2016

I loved this book. I was reading something else at the time. Something more technical, and decided I needed to be engulfed in a story that would grab me and take me out of my head. This was just the book.

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https://suspense.nightowlreviews.com

Good
Reviewed by Gpangel on Feb 01 2016

Stick with it from start to finish...Once you have finished the book, ruminate on it a bit before forming a full opinion. I think once you have truly digested it all, you will see what a truly impressive novel this really is.

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Back to Books

Above average
Reviewed by Nicola Mansfield on Feb 16 2016

This was a quick read for me; very engaging and a unique psychological thriller. Not exactly a mystery as we're privy to who the killer is from the beginning just not the details or hows.

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Izzy Reads

Above average
Reviewed by Izzy on Jan 16 2016

The Widow provides some good twists and surprises and although it’s a light read, it will keep you turning the pages. Book clubs should find that it provides some interesting themes to get a discussion going.

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https://forwinternights.wordpress.com

Excellent
on Jan 05 2016

The whole structure of this book worked so well in keeping me hooked. It is filled to the rooftops with mystery and suspense, as well as huge jaw-dropping surprises, all overshadowed by the dark, terribly sad spectre of Bella’s tale.

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http://dolcebellezza.net

Below average
Reviewed by Bellezza on Feb 16 2016

To me, psychological thrillers are a fascinating genre, but not when they include small children in the plot. The Widow turned from being a compelling book about a couple’s marriage dynamics to a horror story that I could barely finish.

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Crime Watch

Good
Reviewed by Linda Lee on Jan 11 2016

It is a compelling read, and the alternating time frames and perspectives give it a real edge. It's also a look into how journalists work and the lengths they will go to to get a story...

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CelticLady's Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Kathleen Kelly on Feb 16 2016

I read this book in a few sittings and that is an accomplishment for me lately, and I really liked it. Kind of had an idea about the ending but was not sure.

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http://curledup.com

Good
Reviewed by Michael Leonard on Mar 25 2016

Although the reveal came a little early, Jean’s final revelation left me riveted like a violent traffic accident, unable to tear my eyes away.

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Reader Rating for The Widow
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 2639 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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