The Widows of Braxton County
by Jess McConkey
Read: Aug. 6-11, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 35
Source: Publicist for review
Blurb: Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she married Joe Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn’t quite as idyllic as she’d hoped. It’s filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who – unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding – will be living with them.
As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krause family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death that haunts Kate as a dangerous, unexplainable chain of events begins.
Review: I was provided a copy of this book by Megan Swartz at HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
This is one of those books that I had to “sit on” after finishing it for a bit before I was able to really gather my thoughts on it. It’s such a complicated, yet simple, book. I have to say that when I was first pitched this book, I was really intrigued by the family secret aspect. That really got my attention. And what secrets they truly are!
The basic premise of this book is a city-girl who escapes her demanding grandmother for a man she met on the internet. She’s then thrown onto a farm with a mother-in-law who does not hide the fact that she resents her new daughter-in-law. Then you have some town gossips, a miscarriage, a death that happened in the 1800s that no one will talk about, some spousal abuse, another murder and friends in the unlikeliest of places. It all makes for a pretty interesting book.
I really liked how the storyline really switched between Kate’s time on the farm in 2012 and Hannah’s experiences in 1890 on the same farm. I couldn’t help but compare what those two were going through. Sure, there were over 100 years separating them, but they were almost like kindred spirits, really. It was very interesting I thought. But the majority of the story was really Kate’s. And while I originally felt sorry for her, then I was angry at her, I eventually came to admire just how strong of a woman she really was. She was stuck on that farm in an abusive atmosphere, and she was able to escape it. But then again, she suffered a great many losses as well in the short time period she was there. And Hannah … well, I obviously can’t give away the ending to her side of the story, but I can say that she was:
A voice not silenced. (p.355)
I felt like the storyline was fresh and exciting, it was well executed as well, and the characters were well-developed. Overall I thought that this book was a highly enjoyable read. I think this book would appeal to a wide variety of people, mystery lovers will enjoy it, as well as women’s/literary fiction readers too.