The Widowsby Jess Montgomery (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Kinship #1
Published by Minotaur Books on January 8, 2019
Genres: Adult, Crime, Death & Dying, Family, Girls & Women, Historical, Historical Thriller, Social Issues, Women Sleuths
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
“The Widows kept me on the edge of my seat. Montgomery is a masterful storyteller.” –Lee Martin, author of Pulitzer Prize-Finalist The Bright Forever
Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.
Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.
From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be–and that his murder is far more complex than either of them could have imagined.
Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.
“In the hard-luck, homespun Appalachian town of Kinship, Ohio, in 1924, two strong women become unlikely comrades to solve a murder in this flinty, heartfelt mystery that sings of hawks and history, of coal mines and the urgent fight for social justice.”–Julia Keller, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bone on Bone
“Two women, a murdered husband, and the secret life he lived. Set in Appalachian Ohio coal country in 1924, The Widows kept me on the edge of my seat. Jess Montgomery is a masterful storyteller. This is a novel about courage and the good hearts of women, and it builds, almost unbearably, to its stunning end.”–Lee Martin, author of the Pulitzer Prize Finalist The Bright Forever
I took a little break from reading and blogging to end 2018, to refresh my batteries from the stresses of a busy work schedule along with a very full home life with nightly martial arts commitments for both my son and I. The stresses haven’t exactly gone away with a government shutdown (where I’m essential and have to work anyway), and the taekwondo and combat hapkido are still going strong, so picking up THE WIDOWS was a way to start my 2019. Featuring a smart, logical, quick thinking, and sometimes vulnerable woman who takes over as sheriff of her Ohio county in the 1920s after her husband’s untimely death, this historical thriller had me reluctant to close the covers–even when I had to get to work.
While Lily Ross takes the job as sheriff mainly so she can find her husband’s killer and stay in the sheriff’s house with her two children, she soon finds herself embroiled in the nearby coal mining town’s employees battle to become unionized so they can have better pay and working conditions. She never knew the fine line Daniel walked as the half-brother to the owner of the Rossville mine and the horrible working conditions there, or even when dealing with the moonshine stills all over the county. But Lily comes to find that her husband Daniel hid a lot of things from her about his past and present, and the more she digs into his death, the more she’s led toward the head of the union organizers, Marvena Whitcomb, who was Daniel’s former lover before he fell in love with Lily.
Two fantastically well-developed lead women share alternating chapters in THE WIDOWS, and I really enjoyed seeing their different lives and hardships. Marvena’s life is impoverished and bleak, yet she does everything in her power to help the miners that worked with her common law husband who lost his life in the mines. Lily’s life is a little more privileged with family to help her out, but her new role as sheriff is full of danger and indifference from a society that thinks a woman has no place working in such a profession, or even at all outside of the home.
I give The Widows a 4.5 out of 5. Can we talk about that fantastic cover? It’s breathtaking. Jess Montgomery’s writing is descriptive and so compelling. Life in the 1920s was not easy, and the themes of corruption, horrible working conditions, police corruption, and less than equal treatment for women, children, and minorities are things that we still struggle with today in America. Lily and Marvena a survivors, and they push through their loss to make things better for those around them. The time frame and setting were easy for me to slip in to, due to the author’s fantastically fluid writing and the over one hundred hours of Red Dead Redemption 2 that I’ve played in the last two months. A girl has to do something when she’s not reading a book, right? I am so happy to see that this is book one in a series featuring Sheriff Lily Ross because I really want to see what happens next in this world.
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About Jess Montgomery
JESS MONTGOMERY is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.
Find Jess Montgomery
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Jess Montgomery’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for THE WIDOWS:
Monday, January 7th: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, January 7th: Fiction Aficionado
Tuesday, January 8th: @scaredstraightreads
Wednesday, January 9th: Amy’s Book-et List
Wednesday, January 9th: Let Them Read Books – author Q&A
Thursday, January 10th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, January 14th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Monday, January 14th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, January 16th: Books & Bindings
Thursday, January 17th: What is That Book About – author Q&A
Friday, January 18th: The Baking Bookworm
Monday, January 21st: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, January 22nd: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, January 23rd: @ladyofthelibrary
Thursday, January 24th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, January 24th: Fictionophile
Monday, January 28th: @lifeinlit
Wednesday, January 29th:@all.the.lovely.pages
Wednesday, January 30th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, January 31st: @shereadswithcats