REVIEW: THE WIDOW’S HOUSE, BY CAROL GOODMAN

When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career.

They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…

My Thoughts: Narrated in Clare’s first person voice, The Widow’s House immediately drew me in to her life and her experience, and I was invested in her world. How she viewed her new life in the old mansion, and the people she once knew that she was seeing again became my view.

Clare had grown up in the town, on the old Jackson farm with her adopted parents, who were harsh and strict. She felt isolated and that perspective shaded everything back then. Now she is looking at the world with fresh eyes.

But when events take off at the estate, and when she overhears Jess talking on the phone to mysterious individuals, her paranoia intensifies and she is back there, on the outside looking in.

I really hated Jess from the beginning. He was charming, but then cruel. He criticized Clare and made her feel crazy. So when some strange things happened, it started to feel as though he wanted her to unravel.

Final revelations came one after the other, and most I didn’t see coming, even though nothing Jess did would have surprised me at this point.

A riveting tale in which nothing is as it seems, I was glued to the pages, reading long past a reasonable hour. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THE CRY, BY HELEN FITZGERALD

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Joanna Lindsay and Alistair Robertson had built their happiness on the pain of others. Their love affair broke apart the marriage between Alistair and his wife Alexandra, and caused him to lose contact with his daughter Chloe when Alexandra took her to Melbourne.

Joanna hadn’t known he was married at first, but when she discovered that fact, she continued the relationship. It was only when Alexandra caught them together that the marriage was over.

Now Joanna and Alistair have a nine-week-old baby, Noah, and they are on a flight to Melbourne, from Glasgow.

Throughout at least part of the flight, Noah has been crying incessantly. Other passengers have complained and Joanna is more and more stressed out. Alistair does little or nothing to help, sleeping and eating just fine. Joanna is at her wit’s end.

Then there is a problem in the security check regarding liquids; the attendants require that the bottles be emptied, even though they were medicine. More must be obtained, in a rush. There was a mix-up later, apparently, and much of what transpires in the rest of The Cry will come down to what actually happened. And then, when an awful discovery is made, Joanna and Alistair are lying and leading the authorities and media astray.

What will Joanna discover, underneath the lies that Alistair has told her? How will she finally resolve the terrible dysfunction of her relationship with Alistair and find peace at last?

The story alternates between Joanna’s perspective and Alexandra’s, and it flashes back and forth in time. Another page-turner that had no happy ending, but there is a kind of resolution. 4.5 stars.