Review by Deb Czajkowski
Today was the last day of school before summer vacation for elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales. An exciting day, to be sure. But in the grand scheme of things, it is really just another day in Jacks’ life ─an ordinary day, really. She goes home and, as she does multiple times each day, calls her sister, Beth, to regale her with funny stories from her day. Still chatting with Beth, there’s a knock on her door, and Jacks finds two police officers waiting on the other side. And her day isn’t ordinary any more.
First, they tell Jacks that James, her husband of eight years, has been killed in a car accident in Maui. Yeah, that’s seriously bad, collapse-on-the-floor shocking bad news. Wait. Did the officer say Maui? James was away on business, yes, but in Kansas.
“Are you sure it’s my husband, James?” “Yes, Ma’am.”
“And the accident was in Maui?” “Yes, Ma’am. And, um, he wasn’t alone.”
Jacks is still trying to grasp that she is now a widow, but even harder still, to comprehend the other stunning information ─James was having an affair? He was in Maui with her? His last days, his last minutes on this earth were with her? ─when there’s another knock on her door. The man identifies himself as Nick Ford, the fiancé of Dylan Matthews, the woman with James in Maui, the second victim in that fatal car accident.
Nick says he wants more information and his idea for getting it is to go to Maui, to retrace the steps that James and Dylan took. He’s thinking that Jacks must feel the same way, and he’s hoping that Jacks will go with him. Jacks’ first reaction is that he’s crazy! This idea is crazy! It is, right? Seriously, she doesn’t even know this man!
But Jacks’ desire to be where James was in his last moments, to learn what she can about this woman he was with when he died, and to (hopefully) get some closure wins out. Is closure actually possible, given what she knows, what she doesn’t know? Can she trust Nick, a man she just met? One way to find out: Jacks and Nick are off to Maui.
In The Good Widow authors Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke start the novel right off with the problem. In truth, Jacks has two problems: sudden widowhood and James’ mistress. Then the journey ─surely a painful and heartbreakingly difficult one for Jacks and Nick ─begins. The journey to get answers, to find the truth. The journey to understand. The journey to reach the other side of tragedy and grief.
So sad, I know, but we’re going to Maui (if only through the pages of this book)! As we, along with Jacks and Nick, follow the itinerary that James and Dylan took, we meet people who remember ‘friends’ James and Dylan. With each observation or conversation that is disclosed, more and more pieces of the puzzle are added.
Fenton and Steinke do a wonderful job of moving The Good Widow forward in present time, but also taking us back into the past to fill in the before story. Just when I thought I knew where the future was going, something from the past would come to light to surprise me. I very much enjoyed the Maui site-seeing adventures, but the unfolding drama of Jacks’ and Nick’s exploration really kept me turning the pages.
Think you got it all figured out? Maybe, but maybe not! You’ll only know for sure if you read the book. And you do want to read The Good Widow!
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About the authors:
Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke are the authors of the forthcoming suspense novel, The Good Widow, to be published by Lake Union on June 1, 2017. You can pre-order it here! Liz and Lisa have been best friends for over 25 years. They created this website to celebrate books women (and men!) love and to have a place to talk shit about reality TV stars. They have also published three novels with Simon & Schuster/Atria Books. Your Perfect Life is a hilarious and heartwarming story of two childhood best friends who switch bodies at their twenty-year high school reunion. The Status of All Things, is a cautionary tale of a woman who realizes she can change the course of her entire life by what she writes in her Facebook status. And The Year We Turned Forty follows three women who get the chance to relive the year they turned forty, a year they each made decisions that altered the course of their lives. But a lot happened before their first publishing deal…
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Goldberg McDuffie is giving
2 lucky winners a print copy of
The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke