A newly-widowed woman has done a runner. She just jumped in her car, abandoned her (very nice) house in north London and kept on driving until she reached the Norfolk coast.
Now she's rented a tiny cottage and holed herself away there, if only to escape the ceaseless sympathy and insincere concern.
She's not quite sure, but thinks she may be having a bit of a breakdown. Or perhaps this sense of dislocation is perfectly normal in the circumstances.
All she knows is that she can't sleep and may be drinking a little more than she ought to.
But as her story unfolds we discover that her marriage was far from perfect.
That it was, in fact, full of frustration and disappointment, as well as one or two significant secrets, and that by running away to this particular village she might actually be making her own personal pilgrimage.
By turns elegiac and highly comical, "The Widow's Tale" conjures up this most defiantly unapologetic of narrators as she begins to pick over the wreckage of her life and decide what has real value and what she should leave behind.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 03/02/2011
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571254415
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Review by gaskella
A recently widowed woman in her early sixties flees her London home and well-meaning but irritating friends, and rents a cottage in a North Norfolk village, telling no-one where she's gone. There, she gradually works her grief out - all the classic stages of denial, anger, what ifs, depression and finally acceptance. She makes a classic unreliable narrator at first, but as she begins to explore her surroundings and understand her feelings, we gradually learn that there were cracks in her marriage and what caused them. The writing was surprisingly funny - she's quite capable of laughing at herself whilst in the troughs of despond. Although I know some fit and feisty sixty-something women, she felt a decade or so younger than that to me but that is a minor niggle, for I really enjoyed reading it.