Reader's Comments
The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow

by Fiona Barton

PBR Book Review:

It’s about a child gone missing and is told in alternating viewpoints; Jean, the Widow, who is also the wife of the prime suspect, the detective on the case, the mother of the missing child and a reporter in relentless pursuit of the big story. Each character is well developed and adds a unique perspective to the overall plot. Two characters really stood out for me; Jean who has a voice that is real and touching, one that will keep you reading just to find out what happens to her. She is in the middle of a high profile crime, her husband is accused of kidnapping the missing child and the press is unrelenting. My other favorite is Kate, the reporter, she highlights how the media plays into situations like this and will make you think twice about how they operate. Two caveats – the topic is tough, it deals with child pornography and the comparison to THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN or GONE GIRL is a bit misleading. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the book for what it was; a well written s uspenseful mystery. And I should mention this is a debut novel for Fiona Barton – nicely done!

Book Club Talking Points:

Like most mysteries- not necessarily a strong book club choice but there are some interesting threads that will generate discussion. The Widow does not seem like a modern woman but rather like she belongs in a past decade. Child pornography, although a sensitive topic will certainly generate some conversation and the role the media played in this book is both current, controversial and conversation worthy.

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*Other Books by Same Author: The Widow is this Author's debut novel.

*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.

Book Summary
336 pages -NAL; First Edition -February 16, 2016 -ISBN-10: 1101990260
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER An NPR Best Book of 2016 One of The Wall Street Journal’s 5 “Killer Books” of the Year A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

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…
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