The Disenchanted Widow: Book summary and reviews of The Disenchanted Widow by Christina McKenna

The Disenchanted Widow

By Christina McKenna

The Disenchanted Widow

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Book Summary

In the bleary summer of 1981, Bessie Halstone, along with her son, Herkie, flees Belfast to escape her husband's IRA debts and the Dentist, an IRA lackey who thinks Bessie's got the money. But when her car breaks down in sleepy Tailorstown, Bessie realizes a woman can only go so far on a tight leash. Laying low, she finds work as a housekeeper for the parish priest.

Lorcan Strong, a painter with failing hands, receives his own notice from the Dentist: his debt has come due. Fearing for his life, Lorcan escapes Belfast and returns home to Tailorstown, where a twist of fate throws him headlong into the Bessie's path - and both find they are forever bound to their troubled pasts.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Jeannie T. (Lexington, KY)
Disenchanted Widow
The Disenchanted Widow is a nice story for an afternoon read. I rated the book average, because it was somewhat predictable, and the plot needed a little jumpstart in places. I would rate the character development average as well. None of the characters were really fascinating to me. I think it would be a nice way to spend an afternoon, but I don't think you will spend much time thinking about the book after you have read it. Overall, I don't think book clubs would really have enough to discuss.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Viqui G. (State College, PA)
The Disenchanted Widow
This author puts the readers back in the early 1980's during Northern Ireland struggles between the IRA and Protestant British rule. We navigate this time frame with a cast of incredibly quirky and interesting characters who are doing their best to avoid being caught up in the violence. Bessie and her young son, Herkie are just trying to lay low and scrape together some money to get to "Amerikay". Lorcan is using his skill as an artist to avoid being killed by the IRA. Father Cassidy a handsome priest, Rose McFadden a nosy and talkative neighbor and Gusty Grant a mechanic and peeping tom round out the major characters we meet.
At the beginning of the novel I had the mistaken impression that the story would be predictable and the story arc very straightforward. Also, Bessie 's character is pretty rough around the edges and I didn't think I could really "get into her". However, the more I read I found the complexity of each character grew as the author filled in a lot of details. Also the plot took a lot of unpredictable twists. I totally enjoyed this novel and I was really rooting for Bessie by the end of the novel.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Susan B. (Rutledge, MO)
I wanted to like it much more than I did
I found much of the plot hackneyed and contrived, and most of the characters very unappealing, in that they want everyone to treat them well but treat others appallingly most of the time. The two main characters don't meet until fairly far into the book, which added to the unbelievability of the ending in particular. I also guessed the big final plot twist about 30 pages in, which was disappointing. I enjoy learning about other cultures in my reading, but I found myself hoping that much of what I took to be insights into Irish culture in this book was in fact sarcasm, or a poor representation, as I found it so unappealing. My guess is many would find this story heartwarming, but I didn't.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Laurie H. (Stuart, FL)
Something Different!
This book is outside the norm of what I read. I had a bit of a struggle at the beginning of the book with the dialog, but I did get it and enjoyed the book. I have been surprised that the books I wouldn't normally read are becoming my favorites! Give it a chance if you are on the fence!!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Carol G. (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)
The Disenchanted Widow
I wanted to read this book because of interest in the time frame - Belfast in the 1980's. However, I felt the dialogue was a struggle sometimes with the heavy use of the Irish dialect.
The cast of characters is certainly entertaining, but sometimes brings a little confusion to the story. The book was a little lengthy for this plot although I don't have a problem reading longer novels. All in all, I liked the book, especially the unexpected ending.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Debbie-Lyn C. (Kitty Hawk, NC)
The Disenchanted Widow
A wonderful book full of twists and turns that touch almost every topic imaginable; good and evil, young and old, religion, mystery, food, hope and dreams all leading up to a delightful ending.

...15 more reader reviews

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More Information

Christina McKenna is a graduate of Belfast College of Art, where she gained an honors degree in fine art, and later a postgraduate degree in English from the University of Ulster. An accomplished painter and novelist, McKenna has exhibited her art internationally and in Ireland, and taught art and English for ten years. She is the author of the highly praised memoir My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress, as well as the nonfiction books The Dark Sacrament and Ireland's Haunted Women, and a previous Tailorstown novel, The Misremembered Man. She currently lives in Northern Ireland with her husband, the author David M. Kiely, with whom she collaborates on occasion. Visit her at www.ddd.dircon.co.uk

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