Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton


Four years ago a little girl was abducted from her home.  She was never seen again. Jean Taylor’s husband was the chief suspect.  Jean and Glen married when she was young and vulnerable.  He swept her off her feet,  creating a world for her that involved just the two of them, with Glen clearly in control. Faithfully Jean stood by Glen through court appearances, imprisonment and after he was found ‘not guilty’.   The story opens just after Glen has died.   Apart from the army of reporters camped on her doorstep, Jean Taylor is a widow and alone for the first time. Until now she has never spoken. Finally she is ready to tell what she knows.  Or is she?

Apart from Glen and Jean, the other main players in the novel are Kate the tenacious reporter, desperate to get the story,  and Bob Sparkes the detective desperate to prove Glens guilt.  Each chapter  focuses on one of these characters giving their perspective and experience of events.

This book is fascinating because it tells the story of the silent wife.  The woman who stands by her man throughout.  Daily attendances at court, silently watching on as her husbands character is disseminated in front of the worlds press and her life is destroyed.  Who is this woman? what does she know? What is she thinking? What goes on when that woman goes home with the accused killer / child abducter / rapist?  This is her story

This story is absolutely a page turner but it moves at a steady pace, with gradual revelations.  Did Glen really do it? What part did Jean play?  What about the little girls mother, does she know more than she is telling us?

Fiona Barton has great credentials for writing this kind of novel.  She is an award winning  journalist and as a writer for national newspapers  she covered many notorious crimes and trials.  She writes with clear insight and authority making this book authentic and chillingly believable.

This novel was billed as the book to fill the dark void left by ‘The Girl on the Train’.  I am one of the few who hasn’t read ‘The Girl on the Train’  so don’t have this void, and I’m not even a great reader of psychological thrillers.  However, I do like a book that will keep me turning the pages  late into the night and this book certainly achieved that.

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