Monday, May 13, 2019

AudioBook Review: The Widows by Jess Montgomery

I liked The Widows. I didn't really love it.  I'm not sure why.

It is 1924, in Ohio mining country, when the sheriff of Kinship, Daniel Ross, is murdered. His wife, Lily, who can handle herself is appointed sheriff until an interim election can be held. No one expects Lily to do anything as sheriff. But they underestimate her.

Lily is determined to find out how Daniel died. She doesn't believe the story that she was told - that a prisoner escaped from Daniel's control, stole his gun, and shot Daniel. She begins investigating.

She is visited by a very good friend of Daniel's, Marvena, from the miner's settlement. Lily doesn't know what to make of Marvena. Daniel has never talked about her. Was she a mistress? Marvena lost her husband in a mining accident -- the same accident that killed Lily's father.

Marvena is part of the movement to unionize the miners to get safer working conditions and better pay. This movement is strictly illegal, so she doesn't trust anyone -- especially Lily. But Marvena's teenage daughter has gone missing, and Daniel had vowed to help Marvena find her, so Marvena has to seek out Lily's help to find out what Daniel knew before he died.

These two women establish an unlikely bond as they help each other to investigate what happened to Daniel and Marvena's daughter. Not only do they want justice for Daniel's killer, but they both also want to help the miners live a safer and more profitable existence.

I enjoyed The Widows, but I'm not sure why I wasn't totally drawn into the story. It's historical, and I love that. The characters are richly developed. These women are strong and brave. The story is told from both Marvena's and Lily's points-of-views, and that was very effective. The plight of the miners was heartbreaking. I was surprised by some of the twists and turns. Maybe it was the setting. And I did feel the story's pacing was a little slow at times.

Susan Bennett, the reader, did a wonderful job, and I really forgot I was listening.  That's a good thing.

With such a non-specific reason for not falling in love with The Widows, I feel I should still recommend it to historical fiction fans. It is very popular, and there was a long waiting list for the audio version. So if the description sounds appealing, go for it! And, if you want another great book about coal mining, try John Grisham's Gray Mountain.

Published by Minotaur, January 8, 2019 (Macmillan Audio)
Audio obtained from the library
 336 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I feel the same way you do about this book. I liked it quite a bit, but for some reason didn't love it. I did love learning about the plight of miners and would also recommend Grisham's book on the subject.

  2. I like the story though the history part is not one I know anything about. Thanks for the review.

  3. Sounds like I liked this one more than you did. It did get slow in parts, but overall I found it interesting and enjoyable.


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