Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review: The Widow's Season

Summary: A mesmerizing debut novel about love, grief, and the ghosts who show up where we least expect them. Sarah McConnell’s husband had been dead for three months when she saw him in the grocery store. What does a woman do when she’s thirty-nine, childless, and completely alone for the first time in her life? Does it mean she’s crazy to think she sees her late husband beside a display of pumpkins? Or is it just what people do, a natural response to grief that will fade in time? That’s what Sarah McConnell’s friends told her, that it was natural, would last a season, and then fade away. But what if there was another answer? What if he was really there? They never found the body, after all. What if he is still here somehow, and about to walk back into her life? -- Berkley

When I read the description of THE WIDOW'S SEASON by Laura Brodie, I thought it looked like an intriguing book. I really liked the premise of the story -- a recent widow suddenly starts seeing her "dead" husband appear. The question just begged to be asked -- was he real or just existing in Sarah's imagination? I have to admit that I did have a few doubts about whether the author could pull off this story, but those doubts disappeared within the first few pages of this book. I absolutely loved this story and couldn't put the book down.

First and foremost, Ms. Brodie is an amazingly gifted writer. While reading THE WIDOW'S SEASON, there were times that I was just blown away by her prose. I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised considering that THE WIDOW'S SEASON was awarded the Faulkner Society/Evans Harrington Grant for Best Novel-In-Progress. I loved Ms. Brodie's beautiful descriptions and I can't even express how much she made me "feel" when I was reading this book. The way she handled grief and loss in this story were incredibly real to me -- I swear I could feel Sarah's pain. I also really appreciated how Ms. Brodie incorporated so much symbolism in this novel. I especially loved how she juxtaposed the changing of the seasons with the changes occurring in Sarah's life -- so well done!

Another thing I found truly terrific about THE WIDOW'S SEASON was the character development. At first, I thought I didn't really have anything in common with Sarah. Unlike Sarah, I'm happily married and consider myself pretty darn content. However, as I read more of this book and discovered more about Sarah, I could totally understand her character. I found myself relating to her frustration with not being able to carry a child to term; and I even "got" how her disappointment led to so much of her discontent with her life. Sarah was an extremely real and honest character to me. I didn't always find myself agreeing with her behavior, but I did understand it. She definitely wasn't without her flaws, but I marveled at how well Ms. Brodie brought her to life.

I also really liked how the author toyed with my mind while I read this book! I found myself questioning whether Sarah's husband was really dead. I think one of the reasons (besides the beautiful writing) why I couldn't put this book down was that I had to know what was real versus what was in Sarah's imagination. I loved how I went back and forth and questioned my own impressions about reality.

Trust me on this one...THE WIDOW'S SEASON would make a fantastic book for your next book club meeting. I found this book to be very deep on so many different levels, and it just lends itself to a great discussion. There is a reading guide available with thirteen thought-provoking questions -- really, really good questions. I read through all of them and came up with my answers (to the best of my ability), but I really think this book deserves to be talked about amongst friends. There are so many universal themes in this novel including love, loss, grief, acceptance, marriage, and self-actualization. If you are looking for an extra-special meeting, Ms. Brodie is also available to call into your book club.

Thanks to the author and publisher for sending me a copy of this lovely book.

Make sure you stop by tomorrow because Ms. Brodie will be stopping by with a guest post which gives some insight into the background of her novel.

18 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Sarah sounds like a fascinating character to read about. Characters like that usually make me think about my life. Great review.

Cheryl said...

I am currently reading this book. Nice review

Beth F said...

Oh my! What a strong review. I seem to be reading a lot of books that deal with death or dying or grieving. I was going to pass this one up, but I see that I need to put it on my TBR.

Pam said...

This does sound like a wonderful book club choice. I'm definitley going to suggest it to my club for next year. Thanks for the great review!

Serena said...

I have this book slated for review in October for the Halloween season. Now I really am looking forward to it.

Your enthusiasm really shines through in this review.

Laura's Reviews said...

Wow - this sound fantastic! I definitely will add it to my reading list!

Laura

Missy said...

I'm adding The Widow's Season to my wish list...it really sounds good. Thanks for the review!

Holly said...

Nice review. This one sounds great.

S. Krishna said...

I thought this book was amazing as well, you did a great job summing the strong points up with your review!

Belle said...

This sounds like a very good read. I've added it to my list.

Lit and Life said...

This sounds like one to add to the TBR list; I like the psychological play in it.

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Great review! I think this is one more for my TBR pile!

Erika Robuck said...

Wow! I have to read that. Thanks for the review.

Anna said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I'll be reading it soon.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Amy said...

Your review is great! This book sounds like it would be difficult to put down. I love really well-written books with strong, well-developed characters. I'm putting this one at the top of my TBR list.

Thank you!
Amy

Alison (Alison's Book Marks) said...

This is the first I've heard of this book, and I am putting it on my To-Read list. Great review!

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

I have seen this book a few times... it sounds really good.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

I have this schedule to review in October (like Serena ... Halloween season!), so I just skimmed your review.

A few words and phrases jumped out - "talented" and lots to discuss in a book group.

I'll look forward to reading it.