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Widowland

Widowland #1

by C. J. Carey

Widowland by C. J. Carey X
Widowland by C. J. Carey
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  • Esther L. (Newtown, PA)
    Widowland
    OMG! What a scary storyline! What is happening in the United States now is similarly scary...voting rights,women's control of their bodies,racial divides, neighbors acting as vigilantes,banning books,rioting in our nation's Capital Building...and the list goes on. The author,in her notes says "the techniques of authoritarian rule are sowing division,turning citizens against each other, controlling the media and restricting what people read are the skill sets of dictators everywhere."

    Widowland takes place in England thirteen years after Germany wins World War II. England has become the Alliance,rather than be subjugated because it was felt that the English shared the same Anglo-Saxon heritage. Women were separated into seven castes. The lowest caste were Friedas, widows and spinsters over fifty, who had no children, no reproductive purpose and who did not serve a man...there was nothing lower. They lived in decrepit housing on starving calorie rations.

    The book is well worth reading and gives the reader much to think about. I will recommend it to my book club!
  • Rory A. (Ventura, CA)
    Sobering what-if
    How far did we come to the precipice? What if we hadn't made it through and fell back into a dark world such as the one presented in "Widowland"? Rose Ransom is an interesting view into a society where great novels are edited so as to prevent individual thought, but there are times when the seriousness of this world is constantly pounded upon the reader, and it sometimes loses its potency by that repetitiveness.
  • Rebecca K. (Chicagoland)
    Fascinating alternate history
    While historical fiction isn't my usual forte, I was interested in Widowland as soon as I read the description. It's an alternate history about what it might be like if Germany won World War II.

    In this world, the US remained neutral during the war. Now, Great Britain is part of a Grand Alliance with Germany. Though residents outside of mainland Europe are unaware of the existence of concentration camps, they share ideologies including a strict caste system for women. The highest classes are reserved for those of childbearing age, to increase the population. Those beyond this point in their lives are relegated to slums.

    Rose Ransom, an upper-class woman, works for the government - specifically the Ministry of Culture. Her job is to rewrite classic novels, removing subversive content that might encourage women to think for themselves. When graffiti begins appearing around the city, Rose is tasked with visiting the slums as a spy of sorts to weed out the culprits. Seeing how the low class lives makes Rose question everything the government has told her - clearly, these conditions aren't fair. She must decide whether to complete her mission by turning in fellow women or risk everything to do what's right.

    Widowland is inventive and surprising. The idea of editing classic literature makes me supremely uncomfortable as a reader, but I see efforts to censor controversial books even today as a US citizen. From trying to ban Harry Potter books due to alleged anti-Christian ideas, to banning children's books related to same-sex parenting and transgender issues, it's not really so far-fetched to presume something like that might happen.

    I found this novel riveting and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in alternate histories, censorship, or feminism.
  • Dorothy L. (Manalapan, NJ)
    Alternate Truths in Widowland
    I enjoyed reading this book. There are many good things in Widowland. I liked the dystopian premise. I kept thinking: If America had not been attacked and remained isolationist during WWII, would England have survived? In this book, England never engages in battle but submits when other countries are vanquished. I was interested to see how the plot developed but I was disappointed in the ending. I actually turned the page expecting more. I feel the conclusion was too abrupt and although we surmise what will happen to Rose there should have been more clarification as to what will happen in the future to England. An epilogue would have been nice. I suspect the author purposely left the ending this way because she may be contemplating a sequel. We are actually seeing many of the things depicted in this book today--voter suppression, book banning, denial of rights to women's bodies and revisionist history by our politicians even when they are caught on tape saying one thing they deny it. Very Scary!
  • Cathy
    Germany in control.
    This tale of control and cancel culture comes at a time when we are experiencing both. In this alternative history England has capitulated to the Germans without a shot being fired. The English government handed Germany the power to change English culture. In an attempt to control the British citizens, the German Protectorate set about eliminating everything England stood for.

    Freedom was restricted by creating a caste system, discriminating against women, and limiting resources. Control, control, control. And it worked for years. But Great Britain is known for its tenacity and stiff upper lip attitude.

    Sometimes control slips.

    I loved the concept of this book; the characters were strong and the behaviors of the main characters were believable. The world building was compelling in its description of what would happen in a completely controlled society. I did find the book a bit overlong with some repetition that slowed the buildup of the story. But all in all, I would recommend it.
  • Jessamyn R. (Odenton, MD)
    Alt-History meets Dystopia
    Rose Ransom lives in London a dozen years into the Alliance formed between Nazi Germany and Great Britain, enjoying the perks of her Class 1A female rating, editing classic literature to make it more ideologically palatable, and feeling increasingly disenchanted in her affair with an assistant minister of the Protectorate. It's a great hook! I though the book initially plodded through some overly complicated world building that seemed heavily cribbed from other novels (especially The Handmaid's Tale with the named and color coded classifications of women), but picked up as Rose met the residents of the titular Widowlands. I found myself racing through the second half of the book, and enjoyed some of the details immensely. I rated the book a four rather than a five because Rose seemed created to fit into the story rather than a fully realized character with motivations that made sense to me. Some of the allusions to female authors were a bit forced or clunky, but others played well and their inclusion means the novel has some fun "Easter eggs" for a bookclub to discuss. I'm not sure I'd reread it, but I would pick up a sequel or lend my copy to a friend.
  • Elizabeth T. (Bradenton, FL)
    Widowland by C.J. Carey
    Widowland is an engaging, page turner of a novel that crosses genres- feminist, historical, dystopian and challenges the reader to imagine what if… women were classified, literature was "corrected" and history could be re-written. Certainly these topics are not new, but they are timely and Carey's vividly imagined world will resonate with many readers.

    The novel is set in a post World War II Great Britain that is bleak and unsettling. England did not fight Germany, but instead chose to form an Alliance with Nazis. It is this dystopian setting that provides the framework for the ideas the novel examines. The protagonist, Rose Ransome, is awakened by the literature she is tasked with correcting and finds herself asking "what if." She ultimately finds her answer among the discarded women of Widowland.

    I do hope Widowland makes it to the screen. This smart, timely novel would make a terrific series.
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