Thursday, June 14, 2018

TLC Book Review - The Widow's Watcher by Eliza Maxwell

The Widow's Watcher by Eliza Maxwell 

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 29, 2018)
Paperback: 286 pages

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Publisher's Summary
**I've highlighted in red the parts that drew me to this novel.
From Eliza Maxwell, the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl, comes a gripping novel about the mysteries that haunt us and the twists of fate that can unravel them…
Living in the shadow of a decades-old crime that stole his children from him, reclusive Lars Jorgensen is an unlikely savior. But when a stranger walks onto the ice of a frozen Minnesota lake, her intentions are brutally clear, and the old man isn’t about to let her follow through.
Jenna Shaw didn’t ask for Lars’s help, nor does she want it. After he pulls her from the brink, however, Jenna finds her desire to give up challenged by their unlikely friendship. In Jenna, Lars recognizes his last chance for redemption. And in her quest to solve the mysteries of Lars’s past and bring him closure, Jenna may find the way out of her own darkness.
But the truth that waits threatens to shatter it all. When secrets are surrendered and lies are laid bare, Jenna and Lars may find that accepting the past isn’t their greatest challenge. Can they afford the heartbreaking price of forgiveness?
My Perspective
I'm pretty selective with my reading these days. Happiness is my goal, and books are my friends.  The Widow's Watcher may sound a little darker than you would expect someone looking for light to choose, but it was just what I needed.   Maxwell's descriptions of Jenna's darkness and her gradual climb out of the black are spot on...Maxwell doesn't try to make Jenna's journey easy...or fast.  Both main characters' struggles are believable and followable...and tragic...and strengthening.  Their chance meeting one night on the ice of a frozen lake is perfectly written...I could see them...I could feel the cold...I could sense Lars commitment to saving as well as Jenna's commitment to dying.
Their journey to some semblance of redemption and the steps that get them there are also realistically portrayed, even though for Jenna that includes her oldest's daughter's imagined voice.  Steps backward and forward...for both characters and those who surround them are so very truthfully painted.

There is a detective type mystery embedded in Lars and Jenna's stories of well as a focus on mental illness and its effects on a family...not at all predictable and thankfully, completed with enough closure to establish a new beginning but not so clean that the reader wonders what the heck happened to the overall narrative.  Maxwell doesn't take the easy way out of this complicated story of these two individuals, and thank you thank you thank you, she doesn't try to romantically tie them together.  The difficulties are not forgotten, and life isn't going to be easy going forward...but there is most definitely hope at the end of The Widow's Watcher.

Warning: if you're a dog lover like me, there is a scene at the end where you will sob...a happy sob albeit...but still a sob.
Golden Lines
"You didn't have to leave the dog behind." (1)

"Once he'd cooled off, he'd been forced to acknowledge, privately at least, that there were things in this world that could drive a person out on that ice." (47)

"It's too heavy, Cassie.  It's too heavy." (96)

I wanted so badly for someone else to be responsible.  I always knew, deep down, that was bullshit." (158)

"I just wanted to run back to Zach's house, where everything was so boring and ordinary.  I just wanted a boring mom." (211)

What Now?
The Widow's Watcher is a keeper for me.  It will stay on my shelves in my bedroom for a while at least.  I'm especially thankful for my signed copy provided by Maxwell herself :) I'm definitely interested in the other offerings from Eliza Maxwell as well.

The Author

Eliza Maxwell is the author of The Unremembered GirlThe Grave Tender, and The Kinfolk. She writes fiction from her home in Texas, which she shares with her ever-patient husband, two impatient kids, a ridiculous English setter, and a bird named Sarah. An artist and writer, a dedicated introvert, and a British cop-drama addict, she enjoys nothing more than sitting on the front porch with a good cup of coffee.

Other Stops on the TLC Book Tour:

Monday, May 28th: Midwest Ladies Who Lit
Wednesday, May 30th: Jessicamap Reviews
Thursday, May 31st: From the TBR Pile
Monday, June 4th: Openly Bookish
Tuesday, June 5th: Mama Reads
Thursday, June 7th: Books & Bindings
Friday, June 8th: Not in Jersey
Monday, June 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, June 12th: The Bookish Forever
Wednesday, June 13th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Thursday, June 14th: Peppermint Ph.D.
Friday, June 15th: Sweet Southern Home
Monday, June 18th: Katy’s Library
Tuesday, June 19th: Running Through the Storms
Thursday, June 21st: Kritter’s Ramblings
Friday, June 22nd: What is That Book About