Book Review of Widow 1881

When I read the first version of this book four years ago when it was published under another title, I remember being impatient with main character Jane, which was reflected in my 4-star review at the time. I don’t know if it was the additional content in this version or my four more years of life experience, but Widow is a 5-star book. I adored it.

I wish I could go into all sorts of spoilery things in this book and how much I relate to them, but I’ll keep it high level for those of you who haven’t read the book yet.

First, a little background. Jane is a widow…in 1881… (no, really?) who leaves her comfortable life on the east coast to go west in search of a new life and maybe even a new love. Circumstances following her husband’s death result in Jane’s desire to reinvent herself in a place where no one knows her. But life on the prairie is hard and sometimes gruesome work, which comes as a shock to Jane. To pile on, Jane also has to room with a native woman who doesn’t speak to her.

Luckily, Jane is realistic with a thirst for knowledge, which makes her surroundings more bearable, even when she messes up royally at first. With her eager demeanor and open-mindedness, Jane endears herself to the town, and vice versa. Soon, it becomes her home, and she grows more and more comfortable playing house with her employer, Irishman and fellow outsider Dr. Kinney.

Of course, the life Jane was trying to escape catches up to her in a dramatic and painful way, which changes her relationship with Dr. Kinney. I read the last third of the book at rapid speed. Even though I thought I knew how it ended, I needed to know it still ended the way I remembered from the first read.

Sara captivated me once again with her vast historical knowledge and ability to create a vivid, engrossing scene. What she excels at most is capturing the maturity of love and how adult responsibilities intersect and with and sometimes impede the pursuit of happiness. With an ultimately deliciously satisfying ending.

This weekend, Sara and I will be partying it up at the Chanticleer Authors Conference, where she will be leading a few sessions and also competing for the Chatelaine Book Award for Women’s Fiction & Romantic Fiction for her book Wine & Children. Which is also a 5-star book, by the way. Good luck, Sara!

Meanwhile, I’ll be nervously awaiting the results of my two categories, the Gertrude Warner Book Awards for Middle Grade Readers and the Dante Rossetti Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction. Wish me luck, too!