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.