Thursday, March 04, 2021

The Widows - Jess Montgomery

The Widows is the first novel in what has now become known as Jess Montgomery’s Kinship Series. The series, set in rural Ohio, begins in the mid-1920s and features two very strong female characters, Lily Ross and Marvena Whitcomb, who only reluctantly team up together to fight for the welfare of their coal-mining community. By the end of The Widows, Lily and Marvena have become much more than two women forced to work together; they have become family. 


The story begins before the women have met for the first time. In fact, it begins before Lily even knows of Marvena’s existence. Lily, the mother of two small children, lives in the small town she has known all her life, a town in which Daniel, her husband, is the well respected sheriff. Lily helps out in the town’s small jailhouse by cleaning the cells, providing meals, and doing all the paperwork that Daniel is so bad about keeping up with. Her world falls apart on the day that someone appears at her front door to tell her that Daniel has been “found.” As in found dead.


It appears that Daniel has been killed by a prisoner he was transporting to the jail. But Lily wants the details that no one but her much seems to care about. And after she has been asked to take on the role of acting sheriff until the next election to select the permanent new sheriff, she has the power and authority to do a little digging on her own. Marvena Whitcomb, unaware of the sheriff’s death, shows up at Lily’s door the day of Daniel’s funeral. She has come to Daniel for the answers he’s promised her about her missing sixteen-year-old daughter, answers that now she will never get from Sheriff Ross. The two women are suspicious about the motives of the other, especially especially after Lily figures out how much have in common, but they need each other - and given enough time - the mutual trust will come.


Now, working as a team, they become a threat to the powerful family that owns the local coal mining company, a company headed up by a man so ruthless that he will do whatever it takes to maximize the profits of his mines. If that means that people have to die, in or outside the mines, so be it. That kind of thing matters little to him.


Bottom Line: The Widows, being the first book in the Kinship Series, works very well as a standalone novel because, if you stop with this one, that’s what it is. But, given the storytelling skills of Jess Montgomery and the memorable characters she creates, I suspect that most readers will want to keep reading. I’m looking forward to the next two books in the series: The Hollows and The Stills - along with any that follow those. 


Jess Montgomery

15 comments:

  1. Glad you liked this one, Sam. You have some excellent reading ahead of you with The Hollows and The Stills.

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    1. I really enjoyed it, Cathy, and I'm looking forward to the next two in the series. Montgomery tells a good story, and she throws in a whole lot of history to absorb along the way.

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  2. You find the best books to read! I've been trying to read more historical fiction this year and this book sounds like a good one to me. :)

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    1. Cathy turned me on to this author and series. It's not the first time she's changing my reading plans - and since so many of her recommendations are series-books, my plans are changed for months and years to come. Gotta love that.

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    2. That's what blogging friends are for! ;D

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I did, too. The characters are understated but great and the setting is very rich and interesting. I've read all the books in the series and they're excellent.

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    1. Not sure just when it will happen, but I'm definitely going to read the others in the series, Susan. Fiction, for me, is mostly about believable characters, and these two are, for sure. I don't have to like the characters, but I do have to believe that someone like them is possible if I'm going to enjoy a novel.

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  4. I have this one on my tbr pile so will move it closer to the top as you make it sound pretty good, Sam!

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    1. I think you'll enjoy it, Cath. It's a good story, sadly a story that captures a lot of the reality of that period in American labor history.

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    2. Just wanted to say how funny I'm finding the tale of your burgeoning library pile overtaking the house (comment below). *Too* funny.

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    3. You do have to laugh at yourself sometimes, Cath...among the nicest of problems, though, if you have to have some.

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  5. This is on my list. I read and very much enjoyed The Hollows, but have somehow been negligent about getting the first book.

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  6. I'm looking forward to The Hollows now, but I've got a good bit of catching up to do before I ask the library to find it for me. I just picked up three very long library books this afternoon, and the stack was already outgrowing its allotted space.

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    1. Ha! I realized I had a copy of The Widows, but had forgotten it in the long queue of books I'd downloaded.

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    2. That seems to happen to some of us quite regularly, Jen.

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