What the hell was my husband doing in Maui?
Fourth grade teacher Jacqueline ‘Jacks’ Morales is one day blindsided by a knock on the door from a pair of police officers informing her that her husband Jame died in a fiery car crash in Hawaii. Which seems particularly surreal to Jacks because James was supposed to be in Kansas. As Jacks soon puts the pieces together, though, James had in fact been on a romantic getaway with his mistress, Dylan. In a state of grief and shock, Jacks is approached by Dylan’s fiancée, Nick, who suggests that she accompany him to Hawaii to retrace their SO’s steps and hopefully find closure. Jacks does so, but in the process has to confront that nothing is quite what she thought it was; not James, not her marriage, nor James’s death.
Co-Written by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, The Good Widow is told mostly from the first person viewpoint of Jacks, but occasionally switches to the POV of Dylan in her final days before her death as well. It’s not only a clever approach for this particular narrative, but a surprisingly humane one; much as Jacks (and some readers) might want to hate Dylan for being a husband stealer, we are forced to find empathy for her as well.
And for James. The novel’s greatest strength lies in its emotionally brutal depiction of how Jacks and James once so deeply in love eventually drifted apart from one another in an endless cycle of guilt and self-recrimination. They say no one can ever tell what’s happening in a marriage from the outside, but sometimes it’s not always clear from the inside either. Deception is a common thread in the makings of this tragedy and the impossibility of ever fully ‘knowing’ someone else. Secrets are unveiled and, to be honest, the final ‘twist’ isn’t hard to guess. In fact, I saw it coming it within the first few chapters. Nevertheless I was compelled to keep reading, not for the end destination, but for the quality of the journey.
Top photo: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, credit Debbie Friedrich Photography
The Good Widow
Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke