Posted by: Corri van de Stege | July 8, 2010

The Widow’s Tale

One of the recommended summer reads is Mick Jackson’s The Widow’s Tale.  Until reading this, Mick Jackson was an author I knew very little about;  I have not read The Underground Man which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2007

The book’s introduction to the widow in question is:

‘When I ran out of the house I don’t think I had any real idea where I was going.  Although I must have had an inkling that I was doing more than just popping out, or I wouldn’t have packed a bag.’

But not all is as inoccuous as it seems.  The widow flees her London home and friends, after the death of her husband because she is unable to face the life without him.  Through short crisp chapters we find out that she drives to North Norfolk, to hide, to get away and perhaps also to come to terms.  At times she appears slightly deranged, and admits as much.  Grief and coming to terms with the unexpected are somehow or other mixed up in ways that are surprising and in fact quite funny at times.  She lets rip, there’s no one really to talk to, so she let’s rip on the page.  This is the problem she faces, that there is no only to talk to, to listen to, to shout at, it’s not as if everything was that sunny in their married garden, when her husband was still alive.  Once in Norfolk, she hires a cottage, walks, drinks too much wine, gets lost, and drives here and there.  Meanwhile we find out more about her relationships, with husband, friends and others.

Slowly it becomes clear that Norfolk in fact is not such an haphazard choice after all, and that she is trying to come to terms not only with her husband’s death, but also with something that happened in the past.  The unfolding of that particular memory and the reality now is hilarious and sad.

Oh the trials of growing old and carrying baggage!

Yes, I can definitely recommend this book as a quick and funny read full of little gems of insight.  There are a few question marks, such as what the widow used to do prior to her husband’s death – was she simply a full time housewife, with no kids and a husband who brought in the money?  There are a few blanks that somehow or other don’t make sense.  Nevertheless, this book is definitely a good summer read that has you sit up at times and hoot with laughter.

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