I was quite intrigued by this fictionalized tale of the first woman sheriff in Ohio. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of The Widows by Jess Montgomery at no charge for my honest review.
About The Widows:
Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.
Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.
From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be–and that his murder is far more complex than either of them could have imagined.
Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.
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About the Author:
JESS MONTGOMERY is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio..
Connect with Jess
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I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book; it’s based loosely in truth for both of The Widows. One is Lily Ross who is happily married to the sheriff in Kinship, Ohio. She is the jail mistress and his assistant in many other ways. Lily believes she knows everything about her husband, Daniel. Then one day he is killed and she is offered the sheriff’s job in his stead. She takes it with the idea that she is going to find out all that she can about her husband’s death.
The second widow is Marvena Whitcomb – she is loosely based on Mother Jones, the union organizer. Marvena has known Daniel since she was a child and she has loved him for a long time. He still comes to see her, but as a friend. He was helping her find out what happened to her eldest daughter. When she doesn’t hear from him for a bit she heads into to town to find out what he learned. She arrives at his house on the day of his funeral. Marvena is devastated and Lily is many things because she had no idea that Marvena existed.
Lily promises to try and find Marvena’s daughter and the women form an uneasy alliance with Lily asking for help in finding out what happened to Daniel and Marvena not sure if she can fully trust the woman that stole Daniel’s heart.
In the background of all of this is Daniel’s brother who runs the mine where men are not treated well and Marvena is leading the efforts to unionize. Oh, and it’s Prohibition. There is a lot going on but Ms. Montgomery handles all of the varying plots with deftness.
I find it hard to write that I enjoyed this book because of the subject matter. There are murders and other dark acts going on. The story lines are at times very dark. I will write that once I started reading I was completely enthralled with the story and the characters. Particularly knowing that there was some basis in truth. I do enjoy a tale from the past with strong female leads and Lily is one determined woman – smart too. She wants to know why her husband died and who it was that killed him because she is not believing the stories she is being told about his death. Marvena is also strong and she is fighting for her family in so many ways. These two woman need each other but don’t quite trust each other.
The writing is at times stark and at other times lyrical but always hard to put down. I am glad I was able to spend some time in the world of Lily and Marvena.
Read my review of the second book in the series, The Hollows.