Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review: The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman

First line: When I picture the house I see it in the late afternoon, the golden river light filling the windows and gilding the two-hundred-year-old brick.

I love ghost stories; I love haunted house stories. Add in the magical combo of "The Yellow Wallpaper" meets Rebecca, and I am sold.

Our heroine, Clare, is the devoted wife to Jess, a writer whose runaway debut landed him fame and some fortune, but now faces writer's block as he wrestles with his second book. They move to Clare's hometown in the Hudson Valley, an area dominated by apple farms. Most everything is out of their price range, but they find they can live rent free at the decrepit River House if they act as groundskeepers -- a house owned by their former literature professor, Alden Montague -- Monty.

The find is serendipitous: Jess and Monte get along swimmingly, and despite some weird moments -- ghostly figures and crying babies at 3am -- Clare finds satisfaction in cleaning up Monty's home and nurturing Jess. Then she does her own writing, consumed by the tale of a town Apple Blossom Queen from the 1920s, who was whisked away by Monty's grandfather and brought back a ruined woman.

In some ways, it's easy to see where the story is going; the pleasure is anticipating how the characters will react to the revelations about Monty's ne'er-do-well ancestor as well as the increasingly ghostly presence at the home. But as the story progresses, small fragments start to fleck off, leading the reader to wonder just what is really happening -- what is imagined and what is fact.

Over a three-day period of dreary cold and rain, I inhaled this stuffed-full-of-ghostly-sightings, creepy-goings-on-in-a-massive-old-house read, enraptured by Goodman's evocation of place and the shivery atmosphere she conjured. Even more so was the dreadful sense of oh-my-gosh-is-this-real-or-not, which made me wonder if I was going mad myself.

The ending wrapped up neatly, and some readers might find it too neat. But I was really hooked by Clare and her story (I'm being vague to avoid any accidental spoiling) and this made a wonderfully diverting weekend read. Fun, moody, with a what-what?! sort of kicker that had me doubting the entire story (in the best way!), this book reminded me of good, classic gothic fic and insidious haunted houses. (So good, I reread the last four chapters while working on this review!)

Title: The Widow’s House
Author: Carol Goodman

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Supernatural / Marriage / Writers / Motherhood / Hudson Valley / Haunted House)
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks (3/7/2017)
Source: TLC Book Tours

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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Widow's House to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only, ends 4/30. Complete rules here.


  1. This sounds great! And I like how you reviewed it.
    Did you ever see the Neil Jordan movie IN DREAMS? I has Johnny Depp and Annette Benning, and it's set in upstate NY apple tree farm area. SO creepy.

    1. Oh, I haven't seen it but sounds so perfect -- I'll look for it this weekend!

  2. It's so wonderful to have a good book during a period of dreary cold and rain! This sounds fun!

    1. SO much fun. I need others to read it so I can discuss the end!

  3. I love moody books so this sounds good to me.

    1. Let me know if you pick it up because I'm dying to discuss it!

  4. Oh wow, now you have me wishing for a dreary rainy day when I can pick up this book and read it straight through!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.