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Review: The Widows by Jess Montgomery

Title: The Widows
Author: Jess Montgomery
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 324
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA (OH)

FTC Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for a fair review

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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.

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Review: I do enjoy a good historical fiction and this book was a pleasure to read even with a bit of a slow start. The characters are strong, the story is interesting, and the history is intriguing.

My mother grew up in a small Welsh coal mining village just 25 years after this story takes place so I definitely felt a connection to the concepts of a mining town even though my family were the educators in the village. And my grandfather was the head of the district union so the unionizing storyline was also familiar and comforting (I am the head negotiator for my teachers' union so I've really kept it all in the family).

The author did a wonderful job of setting the scene in Appalachian Ohio: the beauty of the area, the poverty of the miners, the new automobiles owned by the wealthy, and the tensions between mine owners, town folk, and the miners' families. The issues facing the miners, their wives, and children are ever-present and important. Accidents in the mines were not unusual and their impact was felt far and wide.

I also liked Marvena and Lily, the two main characters. While they have both suffered more than anyone should in their short lives, they are strong, wise, and savvy. They also show that banding together is much more effective than facing off against one another. I loved the way the women in this novel navigated around the patriarchal times and got the work done so that their children would survive and, in time, thrive.
Challenges for which this counts: 

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