Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: The Widow Waltz

Summary: Georgia Waltz has things many people only dream of: a plush Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park, a Hamptons beach house, valuable jewels and art, two bright daughters, and a husband she adores, even after decades of marriage. It’s only when Ben suddenly drops dead from a massive coronary while training for the New York City Marathon that Georgia discovers her husband—a successful lawyer—has left them nearly penniless. Their wonderland was built on lies.

As the family attorney scours emptied bank accounts, Georgia must not only look for a way to support her family, she needs to face the revelation that Ben was not the perfect husband he appeared to be, just as her daughters—now ensconced back at home with secrets of their own—have to accept that they may not be returning to their lives in Paris and at Stanford subsidized by the Bank of Mom and Dad. As she uncovers hidden resilience, Georgia’s sudden midlife shift forces her to consider who she is and what she truly values. That Georgia may also find new love in the land of Spanx and stretch marks surprises everyone—most of all, her. 

 Sally Koslow’s fourth novel is deftly told through the alternating viewpoints of her remarkable female protagonists as they plumb for the grit required to reinvent their lives. Inspiring, funny, and deeply satisfying,The Widow Waltz explores in a profound way the bonds between mothers and daughters, belligerent siblings, skittish lovers, and bitter rivals as they discover the power of forgiveness, and healing, all while asking, “What isfamily, really?” -- Viking

In the past, I have enjoyed reading novels by Sally Koslow. I always feel like she "gets" women's fiction. She creates some memorable characters that women can relate to, but she also has the right blend of wit and wisdom in her novels. Her latest book THE WIDOW WALTZ is no exception.

THE WIDOW WALTZ tells the story of what happens to a family after Ben, the husband/father, drops dead of a heart attack while training for a marathon. The Waltz family seemingly had it all -- a father who was a successful attorney, a wife who adored her husband, two daughters, a beautiful Manhattan apartment, and a beach house in the Hamptons. However, when Ben dies unexpectedly, his widow Georgia and his two daughters quickly learn that their life wasn't at all what they thought.

The women are left almost penniless and Georgia is forced to not only try to support herself and her two daughters but accept that Ben wasn't the man she knew and loved. Her two daughters also have to accept that their lives are drastically changing as well since they can no longer afford they lifestyles to which they were accustomed. Through it all, Georgia learns that she has more strength than she ever realized and she also realizes the importance of family and love!

I admit when I first picked up THE WIDOW WALTZ, I wasn't so sure that I would appreciate this novel. It's not that the description didn't sound good, but I felt as if I had already read books with a similar story at least once or twice in the past. Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. THE WIDOW WALTZ did provide an original look at this story; and once again, Ms. Koslow created some very memorable characters.

One thing I appreciated about this novel is that it was told through alternating viewpoints. For some reason, I was expecting it to be just the widow's story; and even though it primarily was, I liked that I got some additional insight into the various characters' lives and how the death of their father affected them. While I wasn't quite sure I was going to like Georgia or her daughters at the beginning of the novel, I eventually came to understand them and even learn to like them despite their "issues." I think my feelings changed because all three of these women evolved and showed how much strength they had. Furthermore, I liked seeing how they eventually came around to support each other!

Another thing I really enjoyed about THE WIDOW WALTZ is how the novel looked at love, loss and starting over. There is no doubt that what happened to Georgia and her daughters was extreme, but there was a lot of truth to their actions and feelings as well as how they coped with Ben's death. In addition, there were so many powerful messages in these women's stories like how to forgive and realizing what's truly important in our lives (hint: it isn't the Hampton's house!)

THE WIDOW WALTZ would definitely make a good book club selection for women's book clubs. While the story is very entertaining and even has a few surprising twists, it also has a lot of depth and will give readers some food for thought. There is a reading guide available with thirteen questions that will help keep your discussion on track. Some of the themes you will probably want to discuss include loss, anger, grief, forgiveness, family, honestly, sacrifices, acceptance, sibling rivalry, and new beginnings.

Overall, I enjoyed THE WIDOW WALTZ and thought the novel was a unique blend of wit and substance. Recommended for fans of women's fiction and books about dysfunctional families.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of the novel.


Beth F said...

My first reaction was that the premise wasn't very new, but I like the idea of several viewpoints.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I feel like that a lot with women's fiction. There are about a dozen basic plots done over and over. The difference is the writing.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds a little on the sad side, but I think I'd probably love it.