*Buddy Read* Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow - Fiona Barton.jpg

The blog made its first visit to Ghana, Africa, to buddy read this title with Kobby. However, it was an extremely short stay, as a few chapters in Kobby felt this book wasn’t for him and placed it in the DNF (did not finish) pile. I was back in London feeling alone and abandoned (I’m dramatic right) when my friend, Amy, offered me the comfort I so badly needed and read this book with me. (So really the blog travelled about half an hour up the A12 for this buddy read)

From the inside cover:

The Wife

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. But then everything changed.

The Husband

The newspapers found a new name for Glen: MONSTER, they shrieked. Jean was married to a man accused of the unimaginable. And as the years ticked by, with no sign of the little girl he had been accused of taking, their lives were constantly splashed across the front pages.

The Widow

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 now going to tell us what she knows.

Our Thoughts:

After reading the first few chapters, what were your initial/opening thoughts?

Amy: After the first few chapters I have to say I was quite surprised at how Jean described feeling after her husband died. I would never have expected her reaction, and couldn’t understand how she would feel the way she did until later on in the book. I realised then that the book would be quite slow paced instead of fast paced as I had first anticipated.

Janel: Barton writes in a very authentic style. The tone was set in the first chapter and continued throughout the book – a purposely cold, almost distant, tone. There were no ‘airs and graces’ in this book, it had a very blunt, ‘this is what happened’ feel to it. This compelled me to read on as I wondered what darkness lay ahead…

Kobby: The main character’s voice is not intriguing enough. The writing and I can’t connect, the main character and I just won’t connect. I am so sorry, I just DNFed it.

Were there any themes/elements you really enjoyed?

Amy: To be completely honest, nothing really jumped out at me as there were no elements that I particularly loved, however if I had to pick one element that I did connect with, it would be the strong human connection between Bob Sparkes and Bella. I feel like a detective working on a case like this would naturally be affected and drawn in the way that he was.

Janel: I really liked how the author portrayed Jean as the loyal wife, supporting her husband, in the public eye but behind closed doors, this was not a happy marriage. I wish the author had taken this theme deeper, Jean did indeed appear weak and submissive and I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Glen’s treatment of her; I think this would have allowed us as the reader to understand and empathise with her a lot more. I feel like, for Jean to be the way she was, Glen must have ‘broken her’, she appeared so hopeless, I really wanted to empathise with her.

What did you think of the characters, did you have a favourite?

Amy: Bob Sparkes was my definite favourite, never giving up on Bella. His determination to catch whoever took her really made him shine as the hero for me in this book.

Janel: I didn’t have a favourite character but I enjoyed the narrative all the characters.

What did you think of the ending?

Amy: I was shocked at the ending. Without any spoilers I would just have to say that it was somehow both most definitely not the outcome I had expected, but yet exactly the outcome I had expected, all in one.

Janel: It was as I predicted and I’m so happy it was!

Favourite Quote:

Amy: “No point thinking the worst, my dad says to my mum when she gets in a state, but it’s hard not to. Hard when the worst is just out there. Just outside the door.” My reason for choosing this was because I feel it’s a very true, hard hitting quote.

Janel: “There is so much I want to ask, but so much I don’t want to know.”

Would you recommend this book?

Amy: I’m not sure. It wasn’t a thriller, which is how it was marketed, so I think I opened the book for the first time expecting something different than what it actually was. I feel like I read this book with expectations that weren’t met, but as long as you bare in mind this book is most certainly not a fast paced thriller, then you may enjoy it for what it is.

Janel: Now I must confess, this book had received quite a bit of negative attention from the readers I engage with in the book(stagram) community, causing me to have quite low expectations of this read. Upon finishing it, I feel I must defend this book a little…. This is a great idea for a story, the execution was not brilliant but it was an enjoyable read for me. I’m interested to see what the author writes next. I have no hesitation recommending this book but I feel I must explain what readers can expect when picking up this book as I find there are two issues here and neither of them relate to the story itself. Firstly, not every book needs to be likened to ‘Gone Girl’, this book is in no way like ‘Gone Girl’, if you think you will be reading ‘Gone Girl’ reincarnated – you are wrong. Secondly, this books marketing is slyly misleading, “perfect to fill the void of Girl on The Train”, you are not getting a fast-paced thriller with twist and turns; this is not a chilling thriller. What you are actually getting is a rather dark, slow-paced, tale of a heinous crime told from those closest to the case, alongside an insight/exploration of a marriage filled with lies and questions of how well you really know the man you’re married to. Marketing is so important when selling a book and I feel like this book fell victim to its marketing; rather, this is not a bad book, it’s just not the book readers were expecting it to be.

This book is available to buy now from: Amazon UK


I would like to thank Amy for joining me, at the last minute, for this buddy read. Sadly, despite being an avid reader, Amy does not have any bookish social media – I’m working on changing that! But she will be joining me again for a future buddy read.

However, Kobby is an active member of the book community and you can keep up with all his bookish activity via his Instagram. Kobby, do you promise to not DNF our next buddy read?

8 thoughts on “*Buddy Read* Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

  1. Excellent review! My book club read this earlier this year and I have to say, I would’ve put in in my DNF pile like your friend Kobby if it wasn’t for book club. I completely agree with you that this book did not match or live up to its marketing which was very disappointing. When a book is marketed as a thriller readers expect thrills. Not so with this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 😊. I think because I had discussions prior to reading it, I was able to enjoy it for what it was as I knew it wasn’t the thriller it had been marketed as. It’s such a shame when a book isn’t marketed correctly as this book may have been more positively received it had be marketed differently.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. She was probably my favourite character, if I had to chose, but I wanted a bit more from her character before deciding her culpability. I’ll definitely be picking up Barton’s next book, I definitely want to see what she writes next…

      Liked by 1 person

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