6 reviews

The Widow
by Fiona Barton

Published: 2016-02-16
Hardcover : 336 pages
22 members reading this now
37 clubs reading this now
16 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 6 members

“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 ...
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“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 the Year
One of The Wall Street Journal’s 5 “Killer Books” of the Year
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Includes a Readers Guide and an excerpt of Fiona Barton’s The Child

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.


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. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the structure of the book and why the author chose to write the story in this way. What is the effect of alternating between the perspectives of the Widow, the Reporter, the Detective and the Mother? How did this narrative structure impact your reading of the novel and your opinions about the various characters and events?

2. Discuss the character of Jean. What were your initial impressions of her? Do you think the image she presented was sincere? Why or why not? Did your opinions about her change as the novel unfolded. If so, how?

3. What do you think finally pushed Jean into telling her story? Do you think she wanted to tell her story all along? If so, what held her back?

4. What did you think of Kate’s investigative methods? How does her presence in the story affect how it unfolds? Do you think the media help or hinder the police during crime investigations? Give some examples from the book to illustrate your points.

5. Discuss Jean and Glen—separately and together as a couple. How would you describe the quality of their relationship? Did your feelings about Jean change as you learned more about her and her marriage to Glen?

6. Bella’s disappearance captivated the public’s attention. Why do you think people were so interested in this crime and the people involved? Do you think society’s morbid fascination with this crime helped or hurt the investigation? How do you think our fascination with these types of crimes affects real-life investigations?

7. Jean harbors a lot of anger toward Bella’s mother, Dawn Elliott, and repeatedly accuses her of being a “bad mother” throughout the book. It’s one of the rare instances where Jean gets worked up and outwardly emotional. Why do you think her reaction to Dawn is so strong? After learning about more about Dawn, do you agree with Jean?

8. Do you think Jean was as ignorant about her husband’s actions as she claimed to be? Why do you think that she stood by him through the investigation and trial? If you were in her shoes, what would you have done? What might you have done differently?

9. Discuss the role that addiction and obsession play in the novel. How are the characters defined by their addictions and obsessions, and how do they drive their actions?

10. Do you think the unorthodox method of investigation—posing undercover in an Internet chat room to befriend and expose their suspect—employed by Detective Sparkes and his team was justified? Do you think they should have tried to find a link in another way? Or do you think that the ends justify the means in some cases?

11. This novel poses some difficult questions about moral choices, as the lines between guilt and innocence are repeatedly blurred. Do you think Jean is justified in doing any of the things she does throughout the book? If so, which ones?

12. Jean is not always completely truthful. How reliable is she as a narrator? Identify moments where you trusted her and moments where you doubted her. What techniques does the author use to make Jean seem both reliable and unreliable at various points in the novel?

13. Discuss the story’s ending. Were you surprised by Jean’s revelations? Did you think that the ending would turn out the way that it did? If not, what didn’t you see coming?

14. What do you think will happen to the Widow, the Reporter, the Detective and the Mother? How do you think the revelations at the end will impact each of their lives?

15. What was your emotional reaction to The Widow? Would you call it a page-turner, and, if so, how does the author ratchet up the suspense? Discuss specific moments that were jarring for you as a reader and how the author kept you on edge. (from the publisher)

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Whitney B. (see profile) 11/07/21

  "Good, Not Great"by ELIZABETH V. (see profile) 09/28/19

THE WIDOW is good, not great.

We know right away that a woman is being hounded by the press because her husband, who has done something bad that everyone is interested in, has died sudden

... (read more)

by Athmika P. (see profile) 07/27/19

by Janet B. (see profile) 08/19/18

by Pam L. (see profile) 08/07/18

  "The Widow"by Nancy B. (see profile) 07/31/17

I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I read this book in a day and a half because I couldn't put it down. As the story unfolds you find a widow w... (read more)

by Chan A. (see profile) 06/13/17

The book was well written and addictive that you wanted to not put it down. Although quite a controversial topic, writing it from the perspective of the three main characters was a unique an... (read more)

  "The Widow"by Yvonne S. (see profile) 03/28/17

Such a good start followed by a less than satisfactory ending.

  "The Widow"by Lisa P. (see profile) 01/19/17

by Bren S. (see profile) 11/09/16

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