100/365/12: The Widow

In the spirit of diversifying my 100 book portfolio, I decided to expand my repertoire and pick up something I wouldn’t typically read. This baby was on the New York Times Bestseller list, and it got a nod from Stephen King so I figured it was a winning selection.

The Widow by Fiona Barton.


I would like to utilize a quote to express my feelings about this read. It was spoken by Gabrielle Union’s character, Chastity, from my favorite teen dream movie, Ten Things I Hate About You…

“I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed. But can you ever just be whelmed?”


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m always hesitant to criticize another artist’s work. Writing books is hard, and getting published is even harder. So way to go, Fiona! You get it girl! And don’t take this personally.

Keep in mind this isn’t my preferred genre. Past my hormonal R.L. Stine years, I haven’t read a lot of mystery. But I do know what it is to have your mind blown by an author. Alice Hoffman is my hero. The Story Sisters made my heart race, and I felt genuine passion as I turned the pages of her masterpiece. Also V.C. Andrews has thrown me a few curveballs over the years. “Seriously, V? It’s her freaking brother?? Again???”


The point is that I’ve been surprised before. This novel was in essence, a mystery, and mysteries by definition leave something unknown. I felt like I knew how this story was going to end by about the third chapter. My mind was a merry-go-round of three cycles.

  1. This guy is creepy as shit.
  2. This chick is crazy as hell.
  3. Repeat.

I kept waiting for that moment of mind-boggling explosion. I turned each page over with timid resolve, bracing myself for the moment this literary mofo was gonna jump up and punch me right in my grimacing face. Then I turned the last page and I curled into the fetal position (just in case) and I read those last fleeting lines of secrecy… and I plunged into the waters of the unknown… and I held my breath… and…


Nothing. Not a damn thing. I honestly felt physically like Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook as he flung Hemingway out his bedroom window. I resisted the urge to do that very thing. But I’m not into breaking shit and I only had a paperback, so gratification eluded me.

I felt betrayed, hoodwinked. I took a chance on The Widow and I got played. No surprises. No twisty revelations. No explosions of the head. I expected Hiroshima and got the Bowling Green Massacre.

Positives: It was a quick read and it contained several good characters. Barton also follows a timeline that I’m sure was painstakingly assembled, and shifted in and out of the narration seamlessly through several voices. It was good writing, all things considered. I just didn’t care for the outcome. But who knows? You just might.

So I guess the question is, can you be whelmed by the plot line in this book?

“I think you can in Europe.”

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