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The Widow
Cover of The Widow
The Widow
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A twisted psychological thriller you'll have trouble putting down."—People
"If you liked Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, you might want to pick up The Widow by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful."—Stephen King

Following the twists and turns of an unimaginable crime, The Widow is an electrifying debut thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.
There's a lot Jean hasn't said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now her husband is dead, and there's no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that 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...
An NPR Best Book of 2016
One of The Wall Street Journal's 5 "Killer Books" of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Includes a Readers Guide and an excerpt of Fiona Barton's new hardcover, The Child.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A twisted psychological thriller you'll have trouble putting down."—People
"If you liked Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, you might want to pick up The Widow by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful."—Stephen King

Following the twists and turns of an unimaginable crime, The Widow is an electrifying debut thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.
There's a lot Jean hasn't said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now her husband is dead, and there's no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that 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...
An NPR Best Book of 2016
One of The Wall Street Journal's 5 "Killer Books" of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Includes a Readers Guide and an excerpt of Fiona Barton's new hardcover, The Child.
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  • From the book

    ONE
    The Widow
    Wednesday, June 9, 2010


    I can hear the sound of her crunching up the path. Heavy-footed in high heels. She's almost at the door, hesitating and smoothing her hair out of her face. Nice outfit: jacket with big buttons, decent dress underneath, and glasses perched on her head. Not a Jehovah's Witness or from the Labour party. Must be a reporter, but not the usual. She's my second one today—fourth this week, and it's only Wednesday. I bet she says, "I'm sorry to bother you at such a difficult time." They all say that and put on that stupid face. Like they care.

    I'm going to wait to see if she rings twice. The man this morning didn't. Some are obviously bored to death with trying. They leave as soon as they take their finger off the bell, marching back down the path as fast as they can, into their cars and away. They can tell their bosses they knocked on the door but I wasn't there. Pathetic.

    She rings twice. Then knocks loudly in that rap-rap-rappity-rap way. Like a policeman. She sees me looking through the gap at the side of my sheer curtains and smiles this big smile. A Hollywood smile, my mum used to say. Then she knocks again.

    When I open the door, she hands me the bottle of milk from the doorstep and says, "You don't want to leave that out. It'll spoil. 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.

    I feel too stunned by the turn of events to speak, and she takes my silence as permission to go into the kitchen with the bottle of milk and make me a cup of tea. I follow her in—it's not a big kitchen and we're in a bit of a squeeze as she bustles about filling the kettle and opening all my cupboards, looking for cups and sugar. I just stand there, letting it all happen.

    She's chatting about the kitchen. "What a lovely fresh-looking room—I wish mine looked like this. Did you put a new kitchen in?"

    It feels like I'm talking to a friend. It isn't how I thought it would be, talking to a reporter. I thought it would be like being questioned by the police. Thought it would be an ordeal, an interrogation. That's what my husband, Glen, said. But it isn't, somehow.

    I say, "Yes. We chose white doors and red handles because it looked so clean." I'm standing in my house discussing kitchens with a reporter. Glen would've had a fit.

    She says, "Through here, is it?" and I open the door to the living room.

    I'm not sure if I want her here or not—not sure how I feel. It doesn't feel right to protest now—she's just sitting and chatting with a cup of tea in her hand. It's funny—I'm quite enjoying the attention. I get a bit lonely inside this house now that Glen is gone.

    And she seems to be in charge of things. It's quite nice really, to have someone in charge of me again. I was beginning to panic that I'd have to cope with everything on my own, but Kate Waters is saying she'll sort everything out.

    All I have to do is tell her about my life, she says.

    My life? She doesn't really want to know about me. She hasn't walked up my path to hear about Jean Taylor. She wants to know the truth about him. About Glen. My husband.

    You see, my husband died last week. Knocked down by a bus just outside Sainsbury's. He was there one minute, giving me grief about what...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 30, 2015
    What would you do if your spouse suddenly became the prime suspect in the kidnapping of a two-year-old girl? That’s the stomach-churning prospect that confronts London hairdresser Jean Taylor in this exceptional debut from British journalist Barton, who circles her story as if it were a lurking panther, unseen but viscerally sensed. The main action occurs in 2010, with flashbacks to little Bella Elliott’s headline-dominating disappearance from her home in Southampton in 2006. Multiple narrators maximize suspense, with perspectives switching among tough-to-read Jean, whose husband, Glen, has just been fatally hit by a bus at the book’s start; haunted Det. Insp. Bob Sparkes, the lead investigator, whose career the case jeopardizes; and tabloid reporter Kate Waters, most resourceful of the frenzied journalistic pack chasing the story. 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. Author tour. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (U.K.).

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2015
    A woman whose recently deceased husband was the prime suspect in a horrific crime struggles with how--and if--she wants to step out from behind his shadow. Only a week after Jean Taylor's husband, Glen, stumbled in front of a London bus and died, the titular widow is beset by journalists begging for the exclusive rights to her story. Told from alternating perspectives--the widow, the journalist, the detective--and ping-ponging back and forth in time, Barton's debut is unfortunately more conventional than it first appears. At its core is the abduction of 2-year-old Bella Elliott from her Southampton backyard. With no immediate leads, the investigation, led by DI Bob Sparkes, flounders for weeks, which turn into months, until a tip leads Sparkes and his team to a blue van seen in the vicinity and thus to Glen, a delivery driver. Jean thought her marriage to Glen was the stuff of fairy tales: they'd married young, and he'd promised to always take care of her. She's the faithful, steadfast wife, even when the police start poking around Glen's life and it's revealed that he has a proclivity for child pornography--Jean refers to it as his "nonsense." But the question of how much she really knows about Glen's guilt--he was acquitted on all charges and successfully sued the police, but Bella is still missing--is what the Daily Post's Kate Waters, who finally coaxes the story out of her, is determined to uncover. 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2016

    After her husband is hit by a bus and killed, Jean is not the typical grieving widow, but Glen was not the average spouse either. Four years before his death, Glen was accused of kidnapping Bella, the young daughter of a single mother. Aside from the kidnapping and possible murder charges, investigations by detectives revealed some shameful habits of Glen's--issues sure to persuade any wife to leave. Jean, however, had taken on the role of supportive wife to a wrongly accused spouse. Yet, now that Glen is dead, Jean can tell the truth, and reporter Kate Waters is determined to get it out of her. The truth about Bella's kidnapping, Glen and Jean's lives, and the investigative techniques of both reporter and detective unfold slowly through multiple narratives. 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. VERDICT Barton's first novel is one of suspense and intrigue that keeps the pages turning. Recommended for fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins.--Kristen Calvert Nelson, Marion Cty. P.L. Syst., Ocala, FL

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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