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Book review: <i>The Widow Waltz</i> by Sally Koslow

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the cover of the book

A story about a woman having everything she took for granted pulled out from under her, taking a big hit, and finding a way to get her life back in a way that works.

The story

Georgia Waltz has everything under control. A good marriage; a fantastic relationship with a man she's been with since college. An apartment in the city. A beach house. Nice jewellery, good clothes, a social life that keeps her occupied. Two children, both on the cusp of womanhood. Sure, she has worries: her daughters, obviously, and her brother, who has never approved of her. But all in all, a sorted out life that could continue indefinitely and provide her with all the happiness she needs.

Georgia's sorted out life comes crashing down when Ben, her husband, is struck down by a heart attack when jogging in the park. Not only is she almost immobile with grief, having expected to have many more years with the only man she's ever loved, but then, further disaster. Their well-meaning lawyer can't find any of the money, money Ben had promised would be available to Georgia if anything – god forbid – was to happen to him. Georgia has to pull herself out of her grief and start getting serious. She needs to sell things, figure out how she's going to survive, and how she's going to continue to provide for and support her girls, both emotionally and financially.

When it's clear the money is gone, Georgia wants to know why. And what she finds out, with digging, isn't pretty. What's Ben been doing? He was the only man Georgia had ever been with, and as far as she knew, they were perfectly happy. But was he? Or was he playing away? And what did it mean? Was the husband she thought she knew better than any person in this world actually a stranger to her?

The style

I will preface this review by explaining that this certainly isn't my kind of book, not the genre I would necessarily choose straight away. In saying that, there were certain elements of this book that I thought I got a lot out of.

The Widow Waltz is written in the first person, all from Georgia's perspective. This really works, because the subject matter lends itself excellently to the kind of insights that a bit of train of thought writing can provide. The story is basically the development and emotional growth of a woman who thought she was done with growth, and that makes the story interesting. I found the interactions between Georgia and her adult daughters particularly realistic and telling, in the way that re-establishing a mother-daughter relationship after a traumatic upheaval means there needs to be awkward give and take from both parties. Obviously, I'm a bit younger than the main character and therefore felt more in common with the daughter characters than Georgia, but still, I found the style insightful and nicely written. I kept reading because I legitimately did want to know what was up with Ben and their relationship, and also, where Georgia would end up.

To be completely honest, I didn't love the ending (no spoilers here though!) but by the same token I don't know how else it could have finished. I guess I would have preferred more on a cliff hanger, but that's just me.

Who is this book for?

Your mum. Somebody's mum. Or aunt. Or similar. A nice, book shaped present for your mum.

If you like this book, you would also like...

I know I categorised this a chick lit, but it isn't really because it's for a slightly older crowd. And I'm sure this is a well established market, but I haven't really engaged with it at this stage. Do a google or an amazon search.

In short

Title: The Widow Waltz
Author: Sally Koslow
Publisher: Viking
ISBN: 978-0670025640
Year published: 2013
Pages: 353
Genre(s): Modern fiction, Chick lit
Review Type: