Sarah McConnell’s husband has been dead for three months, lost in a boating accident. But then she sees him in the grocery store, in her home, at the cabin they once shared. She’s convinced that he’s real, more so when he speaks to her. When she tries to tell the women at her widow’s group, they all smile and reassure her, because they have all seen their husbands at one point or another. Sarah’s grief confuses her so much that she isn’t sure whether her husband is still alive, whether her experiences are real, or whether it’s all just the wishful thinking of a widow who wasn’t sure about anything beforehand either.
This book starts out with the perfect set-up. We instantly know Sarah is a widow and that she’s still seeing her husband as if he were alive. We speedily find out that he’s been lost in a boating accident, and though some of his personal items have been found, his body is still missing. So he might be alive, and missing, or he might truly be dead – it’s a mystery and Sarah is just as confused as the reader is. Throw in a bit of angst left over from their previous marriage and a whole lot of learning to be alone and it’s easy to understand how Sarah can struggle so much while doing her best to appear fairly normal.
Somehow, though, while I liked this book well enough, I never really crossed the line into loving it or feeling like I wanted to pick it up after I’d put it down. I did finish it, but it didn’t stand out in any way, and I felt there was a reason I’d had it for review for a while without considering reading it yet. I think a degree of this is personal; I generally struggle with books like this, which are about women and feelings, mainly I think because I am a woman and have feelings and get enough of that in my own life.
Still, I appreciated the way the book was put together, the slow unveiling of the mystery, confusing at first but with a twist at the end that helps it all make sense and coalesce. It’s a story about coping with grief and making sense of what is left, however possible. Whether David is still alive or not, and we spend most of the novel unsure, Sarah still has to manage her grief because her life will never be the same either way. I can appreciate that The Widow’s Season a very good book and I suspect someone who is the right target audience for this will just love it.
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