Book Review: The Widow's House

The Widow's House: A Novel - Carol Goodman

Book: The Widow's House


Author: Carol Goodman


Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Mystery


Summary: When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River Valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation - of their marriage, their savings, and Jess's writing career. They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. But it's been years, now, since his first novel, and the advance has long been spent. Clare's hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer him inspiration. But their new life isn't all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night and see strange figures in the fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she discovers that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is - this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate - it seems to be after Clare next . . . - William Morrow, 2017.


As much as I loved my previous book, I was happy to sink back into the comfort of fiction and especially into the fantastic world created by Carol Goodman.


This book took me back to the first Goodman novels - the ones that captured me in their mystique and haunting atmosphere. I especially loved reading this in the fall because the shorter days and spooky nights framed this story perfectly.


Clare Martin and her husband become caretakers to a crumbling house in the Hudson River Valley. Clare, who gave up her dreams of writing to support her husband's work, is encouraged to take up her writing once more. But the ghosts of the past walk the property and Clare has to separate illusion from reality while coming to terms with the changes in her own life.


Typically, I'm not a fan of reading about relationships on the rocks because I like indulging in the escapism aspect of books. However, if it's a side plot, then I have no problem with reading it. A part of me always hopes the couple might remain together, but I know that life isn't like that and people shouldn't stay in unhealthy relationships. Goodman shows the relationship is not what Clare believes it to be so that by the time the book is over, she has grown into a different person.


The book is classic Goodman in that the story is presented as something simple, but gets more complicated and thrilling as time goes on. What seems to be a simple ghost story transforms into a more complicated and terrifying story. What's even better is that Goodman adds a sort of small, but significant last thought that makes the reader wonder. I'm not calling it a twist because the information is not confirmed - it's left in the hypothetical. It's fantastic and it makes the reader think about it long after finishing the book.


I also enjoyed how even the characters and their motivations aren't simple. I came to certain conclusions about specific characters, but Goodman writes different conversations and events that make me reconsider my conclusions. Her characters are complicated and I love that. This is especially great considering the story is told in the first person - Clare is an unreliable narrator and the reader can only trust her so much.


The thriller aspect of the book was also fantastic. It's creepy and spine tingling. It's not hokey or cheesy. It's genuinely scary and it's "realistic" horror - the events are the kind of "ghostly" happenings that would realistically happen should anyone experience what Clare did.


Overall, I adored this book and I continue to enjoy Goodman's novels - she still has yet to write something that I absolutely hate.


I give The Widow's House an A+.




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