THE WIDOW'S WATCHER by ELIZA MAXWELL Genre: Literary Fiction / Gothic Publisher: Lake Union Press Date of Publication: March 29, 2018 Number of Pages: 286
From Eliza Maxwell, the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl, comes a gripping novel about the mysteries that haunt us and the twists of fate that can unravel them…
Living in the shadow of a decades-old crime that stole his children from him, reclusive Lars Jorgensen is an unlikely savior. But when a stranger walks onto the ice of a frozen Minnesota lake, her intentions are brutally clear, and the old man isn’t about to let her follow through.
Jenna Shaw didn’t ask for Lars’s help, nor does she want it. After he pulls her from the brink, however, Jenna finds her desire to give up challenged by their unlikely friendship. In Jenna, Lars recognizes his last chance for redemption. And in her quest to solve the mysteries of Lars’s past and bring him closure, Jenna may find the way out of her own darkness.
But the truth that waits threatens to shatter it all. When secrets are surrendered and lies are laid bare, Jenna and Lars may find that accepting the past isn’t their greatest challenge. Can they afford the heartbreaking price of forgiveness?
Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband and two kids. She's an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers. You can find her at firstname.lastname@example.org
I couldn't shut up about The Widow's Watcher after finishing it. I spent a few minutes trying to convince my husband he needed to read it, but then realized I couldn't wait and needed to talk to someone about it now. I spent a good hour in an animated recreation with all the little quotes and scenes I loved about this book. He is learning my lingo because at one point he air quoted when asking if this is what a "book hangover" was. Well yes it is, when two days have gone by and I'm still thinking about this book and smiling at how it made me feel. I just want to sit and soak in this story to appreciate the details for as long as possible.
After the first scene I immediately compared The Widow's Watcher to A Man Called Ove, seeing a character who was looking forward to the unity death would bring, then not willingly and slowly considering staying alive for just a little while longer because of a stranger. Then I even saw a little hint of Britt-Marie Was Here with the eccentrically non-cooperative personalities I could argue were in all the characters in this book. (If you can't tell from these comparisons I just binged all Fredrik Backman's books.) Then the book took the turn I should have expected after reading The Unremembered Girl and it became more dark and mysterious. It began by laying a firm foundation, then steadily building on that, before the tornado was unleashed on this cast. This is why I love this author; her stories are refreshing and unexpected. They don't follow by any means a normal path, so I can never guess what is going to happen next and how far she's going to take things.
My favorite detail in The Widow's Watcher was how the author made this woman both feel defeated and numb, but alive by using the greatest inner voice I've ever seen in a book. It was brilliantly incorporated even bringing humorous elements into an otherwise somber story line. All the characters were so well developed with such enduring and relatable personalities you couldn't help be invested.
If you've experienced a loss or not, your heart will break for these characters. The main character builds up a wall, but when that first crack forms you draw in a breath and hold it throughout this story wanting and hoping it will grow until she'll finally allow herself to fully grieve and live again. Then, when that last scene happens if you don't get choked up, you might even shed a tear like myself. This is a beautiful story. Not every story needs a fairy tale, happy ending to still warm your heart and leave you wanting more. You are left with hope of possibilities and wishing them the best.
“Jenna’s face remained impassive. She had the vaguest sense her expression had frozen the day she’d received the call, as if the voice on the line had somehow reached through the airwaves and severed the connection between her face and her heart. Between everything and her heart.”
“Jenna didn't have emotions to spare for other people's pain.”
“Connections were what kept people tied to the world. Without connections, there was nothing left to stop them from simply floating away. Something as simple as a stranger on the other end of the line willing to listen. Or a crotchety old man who believed he knew best. Connections.”
“Is there anything so empty as something that's once been full?”
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