The Widow: Book summary and reviews of The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow

by Fiona Barton

The Widow by Fiona Barton X
The Widow by Fiona Barton
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About this book

Book Summary

A loving husband or a heartless killer…She'd know. Wouldn't she?

For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.

A New York Times bestseller
An NPR Best Book of 2016
One of The Wall Street Journal's 5 "Killer Books" of the Year

Now in Paperback!

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen...

But that woman's husband died last week. And Jean doesn't have to be her anymore.

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 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…

Excerpt & Reading Guide

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Media Reviews

"Engrossing. Suspenseful." - Stephen King

"Starred Review. 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." - Publishers Weekly "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." - Kirkus

"The ultimate psychological thriller! Barton carefully unspools this dark, intimate tale of a terrible crime, a stifling marriage, and the lies spouses tell not just to each other, but to themselves in order to make it through. The ending totally blew me away!" - Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Fiona Barton's The Widow is a fast-paced, heart-stopping debut. Jean Taylor - the widow - is heroine and anti-heroine, naïve and savvy, dominated and dominating; in short, utterly compelling." - Catherine McKenzie, international bestselling author of Hidden

"A marriage is a public union, but can also act as a wall hiding an inner world of secrets. Fiona Barton's The Widow grabs hold of this insight and runs with it, twisting all the way to the end." - Andrew Pyper, #1 international bestselling author of The Demonologist and The Damned

"Stunning from start to finish. I devoured it in one sitting. The best book I've read this year. If you liked Gone Girl, you'll love this. Fiona Barton is a major new talent." - M.J. Arlidge, international bestselling author of Eeny Meeny

This information about The Widow was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Kathleen Kelly

The Widow
"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 Witnesses 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." --- from Chapter one of The Widow by Fiona Barton.

How well do you know your spouse or significant other? Maybe you don't know him/her as well as you thought you did. What if that person committed a horrible crime? Would you stand by their side?

This is the premise of The Widow, Jean Taylor and her husband, Glen, have been married over a decade and she is somewhat happy in her marriage. They were in love when they married but sometimes complacency can make that love change.

The Widow starts out in 2010, after Jean's husband has died, hit by a bus. The reason for the reporters? Well, in October of 2006 a two-year-old little girl by the name of Bella disappears from her front yard. You may wonder what a little girl was doing out in the yard all alone. Her mum, Dawn, just went inside to make their tea and things happen very fast. There are predators out there who prey on children and that is what happened in this case.

Who took Bella? Glen is a suspect and undergoes interrogation after interrogation and never reveals what he knows. Jean sticks by her man, if you will, and they weather the storm of accusations by the press, neighbors, and family, but this goes on until 2010 and the death of Glen. There is no real evidence that Glen had anything to do with Bella's disappearance.

This story is told by different viewpoints, Jean being the main one, the reporter, Kate Walters and the investigating detective, Bob Sparkes. Through alternating chapters, the reader learns more about these people and the circumstances of not only Bella's disappearance but of Glen's death.

The Widow is being compared to the Best Seller The Girl on the Train, of which I have read. It definitely has a similarity as they are both psychological suspense in nature. The protagonists are both women in a situation not of their own making. I found the characters to be well developed, and as I read this book, I kept coming back to the question, how well do we know another person? Everyone has secrets, some minor in nature and some people have secrets that are dangerous. This book encompasses both of these scenarios as we learn what kind of people that Jean and Glen were.

I read this book in a few sittings and that is an accomplishment for me lately, and I really liked it. Kind of had an idea about the ending but was not sure. The author writes in a way that grabs your attention in the first chapter. I give this book five stars for writing and plot!

Carol G. (Leesburg, VA)

Hooked from the beginning
This book is almost identical in style to The Girl on the Train, right down to the back and forth chronology. Having said that, I found this story more gripping. I wanted to know almost immediately what was going on with these people, what was simmering under the surface. I felt there was a perpetual 'gray cloud' hanging above every day in the story and I didn't like Glen from the beginning although I could not put my finger on the reason.
The story is easy to read and follow and the characters are very relatable.
I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who like the suspense genre. I will be recommending this book to my book club once it is published.

Kathy G. (Danville, CA)

The Widow
I was hooked from the beginning to the end with the well developed characters and the intriguing plot development. I enjoyed Fiona Barton's writing style with her transitions between characters and the past and the present.

The pedophile element of the story were disturbing and creepy.( More than I wanted to know on that subject.) With that being said, I would still recommend the book and encourage book clubs to select The Widow.

Rosemary C. (Austin, TX)

Intriguing style, engaging psychological study
Ms. Barton has written a very readable, credible story that captures the reader from the first page. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the same set of facts and circumstances from the viewpoints of multiple characters so that I had some understanding for each person's motivations and personalities. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Liz B. (Fairview, TX)

Creepy Good
The Widow is a well-written psychological thriller. I really enjoyed the in-depth character development and the author's smooth writing style. The book keeps you guessing and asking dark questions about the relationship between Glen and Jean. This would generate good club discussion; I would definitely recommend it to friends.

Anna R. (Oak Ridge, TN)

Riveting Story
This book had me hooked from the first sentence. I had a hard time getting anything done because I wanted to find out what was going to happen! The plot had many twists and turns and I didn't not who was guilty. Was it the husband? The wife? What did she know? Why didn't she question him more? Was she afraid or just brain washed?
The writing was excellent and kept me, the reader, engaged the entire book. When you have the pleasure of reading this book, be prepared; you won't get anything else done because you want to find out what happens! It is suspenseful to the last page. It is an excellent read.

...19 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Fiona Barton

Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she currently lives in southwest France. Visit her at

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