Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, The Wife and the Widow is a mystery/thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside down when she’s forced to confront the evidence that her husband is a murderer. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives.
Brilliant and beguiling, The Wife and the Widow takes you to a cliff edge and asks the question: how well do we really know the people we love?
A tragedy and longtime secrets bring together two women from different backgrounds in this stellar family drama from Australian author White (The Nowhere Child). Wealthy stay-at-home mom Kate Keddie is the widow of the title, a designation she receives shortly after waiting in vain at the airport with her 10-year-old daughter for her husband, John, to return to Melbourne following a business trip to London. Kate soon learns that John never made the trip, and that he quit his health-care job three months earlier without telling anyone; then his body washes up on Belport Island, where the Keddies have a vacation home. Supermarket clerk and amateur taxidermist Abby Gilpin is the wife of the title, who lives with her two sulky teenagers and her husband, Ray, a caretaker for the unoccupied holiday houses on Belport Island. Superior plotting buoyed by strong characters fuel the women's separate investigations as Kate looks into John's activities and Abby wonders why Ray is distant and sad. A clever twist near the end upends the plot's trajectory. Readers will eagerly await White's next.
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Who needs men
Australian screenwriter. His first novel The Nowhere Child (2018) won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. This is his second, again in the mystery genre.
Doctor’s wife shaken from her comfort zone in suburban Melbourne after hubby fails to come home from conference in London because he wasn’t there in the first place. Rather, he was on a fictional island in Bass Strait accessible only by ferry from the Bellarine Peninsula. It’s popular in summer—the family has a holiday house there—but in winter, not so much. Doc gets dead. Wife becomes widow. Meanwhile, the wife of a local who lives on the island all year finds out her old man, the island custodian and handyman, isn’t who she thought he was. Stuff happens. Together, the gals work things out. Sort of.
Keenly drawn sympathetic protagonists. Less detail about the supporting cast, but enough.
Crisp, clear, well paced, atmospheric at times. Mr White’s background as a screenwriter is evident. I’m sure this would translate well to the screen, large or small.
An author’s sophomore novel is always a challenge, especially when the debut was successful. Kudos to Mr White for achieving that much sought after goal of bettering his first effort.
I was really enjoying this book until the twist. Then it became confusing, almost as if the author had not completely known where he was going.
On completing the novel, I had to go back and retrace everything. I guess it is quite clever, but not knowing or understanding the time difference is off putting.
I didn’t mind the plot of this book. An enjoyable, light read. There was more emphasis on plot than literary substance though. A really odd thing for an Australian author writing a book set in Australia, was the use of Americanisms. I don’t think Ambien has ever been available in Australia nor do we play roque. Coveralls are overalls in Australia and Buy & Bye sounds like a typical American shop. I found other examples and felt it was weird. Maybe editors need to be more careful?