One evening, Viola goes missing.
The explanation—a visit to her son—seems doubtful, and her women friends’ messages go unanswered. A spiky, caustic woman, Viola’s heavy drinking makes her tiresome company, but they know nothing of her troubled past.
Yet, Maisie misses Viola. Recently, their shared love of gardening has almost blunted Viola’s barbs, and Maisie is much in need of a close friend. Her house is a building site, her daughter’s wedding is looming. Most worrying is her friendship with handsome, formidable Oliver Harrington. She cannot work out what he wants from it, nor, really, what she wants, either. She barely has time to wonder where Viola has gone.
As Maisie grapples with her present-day preoccupations, Viola’s tale unfolds: a dark landscape of tragedy and suffering. Their two stories collide in an explosive finale. Can the two women rescue each other?
This third book in the Widows series stands alone. A story of weeds and wildflowers, tenacity and tenderness, and containing potentially upsetting details of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and bereavement, this is ultimately an affirmation of the strength and power of women’s friendships.
Allie Cresswell has featured on my blog a couple of times before. With a guest post for The Lady in the Veil (2021) and a guest post entitled “Lifting the veil on Regency society to find inequality and prejudice” for her 2020 release of The House in the Hollow. The Widow’s Weeds is the first of her books that I have read and I found it a totally absorbing one and my thanks to Allie for the tour invitation and digital copy to review. The Widow’s Weeds is self published (25 April 2023) and available in ebook and paperback formats.
In this story the main focus is on Viola however other characters such as Maisie have a significant part to play too, Maisie being the lynchpin that holds the story together. Viola is just one character that has a torrid time with a sometimes dark storyline featuring abuse, coercive control, bullying and addiction. It’s the beauty of the author’s writing that all these characters have such distinct personalties enabling the reader to feel fully invested in their individual stories. Viola is recovering from traumatic events whilst Maisie is dealing with a whole load of issues including the details (or rather the lack of) of her daughter’s wedding and overseeing the complete renovation of her house into not exactly a commune but somewhere where her female friends could live in safety and with companionship; she is the one that everyone goes to for advice and support and seems to take everyone’s problems on her shoulders. It is clear that Maisie has had a troubled past with her late husband and is still finding her way forward with, and without, the support of her children, including her selfish and rather unpleasant daughter Frances, the bride to be.
This third book in the series can very much be read and enjoyed as a standalone. I haven’t read the previous two books, although I have since purchased them as I enjoyed this one so much. I didn’t feel as though I missed out at all by not being familiar with the characters and their backstories as there is enough detail where needed to make a new reader feel at home.
Some of the story makes for troubling and difficult reading and there were occasions when I was totally shocked by dramatic events but there is nothing gratuitous and instead the writing is sensitive and insightful with touches of observational humour. The Widow’s Weeds is very much a book of light and shade with the darker content in contrast to the heartwarming friendship and support given by the widows and their true friends. I would make one observation. From my initial impressions, I had imagined Maisie to be much older in years and of retirement age, however I was very much surprised to learn she was actually in her late forties.
I enjoyed The Widow’s Weeds very much and have no hesitation in recommending this captivating story of friendship and hope.
One more thing. For the duration of the tour, 1st – 4th May, the other two books in the series are at a discounted price to download on Amazon.
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport in the northwest of England and has been writing fiction since she could hold a pencil.
She studied English Literature at Birmingham University and did an MA at Queen Mary College, University of London.
She was a pub landlady, a print buyer, ran a B & B and a group of holiday cottages before training to teach literature to lifelong learners.
Now she writes full time. Her historical and contemporary fiction has been flatteringly compared to Alice Munroe, Daphne du Maurier and Jane Austen. She has been the recipient of several Readers’ Favourite awards.
She lives in Cumbria. The Widow’s Weeds is her fourteenth novel.