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Hespeler Book Club Review

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Susan, Hespeler | November 1, 2017

The Hespeler Book Club meets monthly to discuss a variety of fiction and nonfiction. Last month, we read The Widow, by Fiona Barton, which falls neatly into the genre of “psychological suspense”. What did we think of it? Did it keep us on the edge of our seats? Did it spark debate? And whether we loved it or loathed it, was it a good book club read?

The Widow is told partly in the present day and partly by flashback, and uses several different narrators. This can be confusing, but we were agreed that in this instance, the author used the structure to her advantage. The main character, Jean (the widow) turned out to be a much more interesting character than she at first appeared, and as more details were revealed, we were intrigued to find how much she knew, as well as answer the question: Did she or didn’t she?

Several of our members are passionate readers of mysteries, so they were able to compare it to other, similar novels, such as Gone Girl, and Girl on the Train. While it didn’t quite measure up to the best in the genre, it was a compelling read without too many gruesome details, and most of us found it to be well-written. The one dissenting voice in the group was disappointed that there wasn’t much to learn from Jean’s story, but others disagreed since the novel raises important questions about the moral choices she makes.

The Widow turned out to be a good book club read since it opened up the discussion to several topical themes – the prevalence of social media, the role of the press, and how we might have behaved in “the widow’s” shoes. We talked about the “people behind the story” in high-profile crime cases, and how their lives are laid bare so that even if they are exonerated, their families can never be the same.

In November, we’ll have our first taste of fantasy when we explore a very different world in A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab. Join us on Thurs. Nov. 9 at 6:30pm or Fri. Nov. 10 at 10:30am.