Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review: The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie

It's chilly and overcast where I live - the perfect weather for curling up with a spooky tale.

If you're a seasonal reader like me, late fall/early winter is the ideal time for you to add The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie to your reading list. (Full FTC-friendly disclosure: I received a free review copy of the book from the author, was under no obligation to review it, or even to give it a good review. But I review books I like, which is why this gets a review from me.)

The Widow's Season is an atmospheric, character-driven tale of a woman haunted by the death of her husband. Or maybe...not haunted, since from the first page you and the main character are left wondering if he really died. After all, his body was never found. Brodie definitely wins a prize for one of the best opening lines I've read in a long while:

Sarah McConnell's husband had been dead three months when she saw him in the grocery store.

Yes! I was hooked instantly. But this book originally caught my attention because it was inspired by a chapter in Brodie's Ph.D dissertation on widows in English literature. The chapter was on husbands who fake their deaths in order to spy on their wives - how awesomely creepy!

The emotional stakes are high. Sarah is 39, childless, and the widow of a man with whom she'd been trapped in an increasingly cold and loveless marriage. He had grown distant as she'd grieved the children she couldn't have and the gradual loss of her dreams and ambitions. What might happen to a woman released from a marriage to a man she neither loved nor hated? I almost hesitate to describe Sarah or their marriage because she's such a complex character that it would take me pages to do it right.

After Sarah spots David near a display of plastic pumpkins at the grocery store - he had drowned in a kayak accident three months previous (or DID HE?) - she begins wondering if his apparition is a normal part of the grieving process, or whether he could still possibly be alive. And if he is, why has he stayed away, and is he planning to come back into her life?

I can't say much more without giving away the plot and the ending, but suffice to say The Widow's Season is a haunting, deeply probing look at loss and grief. "Death of a spouse" can be a total bummer of a book topic, but not here: Brodie counteracts the inherent sadness with a strong-yet-vulnerable heroine and a creepy, twisty plot where nothing is what it seems to be.

Come back tomorrow to (1.) catch a Q&A with Laura Brodie and (2.) to enter to win a copy of The Widow's Season!


Chad Sayban said...

That really does sounds like an interesting book. I can't wait to hear about the author.

Style and Inspiration said...

Great review. Thanks for the giveaway...I've made a note to come back and enter!