Review by Shellie for The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey
Shellie’s quick take: A women’s thriller with a slight paranormal bent that includes domestic abuse and family secrets as major themes.
Shellie’s description: When Kate, a public accountant from the city, moves in with her new husband, she has dreams of marital bliss and a family. But when she arrives at his family’s Victorian farm house in the country she is surprised and upset to find that they will be living with her terse mother-in-law. However, Kate is determined to make her marriage work, even though her husband (Joe) has not been completely upfront with her in a variety of areas, including the family finances.
Alternating with Kate’s story is the story of Hannah Krausse, Joe’s great great step-grandmother who lived in the old house in the 1890’s with her husband (Joe’s great great grandfather) and their young son. Hannah’s story shows what life was like for women living in the late 1800’s, exemplifying the fact that women had little control of their lives; they were essentially owned by their fathers and then their husbands.
Predictably drama arises for Kate, her mother in law, and her husband, based on the difficulties of their living arrangements – not helped by there being a variety of family secrets from the past that are being kept. It also becomes apparent that Kate is expected to subordinate to her husband and his escalating temper. Kate must decide whether to stand up for herself or to abdicate to her husband’s demands.
Shellie’s thoughts: I really liked this novel and would say that it’s definitely a woman’s book since most of the subject matter centers around women’s issues - like the historical and social status of women in the 1800’s, domestic abuse, the family’s roles in perpetuating the abuse, and the role of a woman’s strength and confidence in being able to extricate herself from that abuse. And although it sounds like the story could be heavy going, the author handles these difficult issues well and keeps the story moving and positive.
Since I read this book in several sittings, I would say that it has a page-turning style and is easy to read. It also has well-paced thrilling events with an edge to them that are slightly paranormal. There is also a slight horror element though that is contrasted with a romantic side which creates a subtle balance making it very readable. 3.5 stars for this page-turning thriller for women. I will be reading more from this author.
William Morrow Paperbacks | 7/23/2013 | Trade PB |Pages: 384
Find out more about the author at her website: http://jessmcconkey.com/