Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey

This novel was a no-brainer choice for me:  it takes place in Iowa, and is by an Iowa author.  And it has a dual story line involving two women accused of murder 110 years apart.

Kate meets Joe online, falls in love and marries him.  Joe Krause is  the last farmer in a 140 year history of the Krause family, and she's about to start a new life as his wife on the family farm.

Kate's dream is rudely shaken when she arrives at Joe's farmhouse to find his mother,  Trudy, waiting for them.  It appears that she lives there along with Joe, and has no intention of moving out.  She's a nasty piece of work and one of those women who cling to their sons with both hands--unwilling to let any other woman into his life.  

Kate struggles to get along with Trudy and find her place on the farm.  Her relationship with Joe isn't what she pictured, and she soon finds out that the Krause family has a dark past.  

That dark past started with Jacob and Hannah Krause.  In 1890 they live on the Krause farm.  Jacob has an adult son, Joseph, and Hannah is his second wife.  Her son, Willie, is pretty young and loves his mother.  Jacob is an abusive, mean, and horrible man who constantly puts Hannah down.  The town has turned their back on Hannah and ignores the obvious signs of abuse.  Joseph is equally as mean as his father, and hates Hannah.  

One night, Hannah wakes up.  Her husband sleeps beside her.  She walks downstairs and finds the kitchen door open, but no sign of anyone else in the house.  Going back up to bed, she finds a horrible sight:  her husband is dead in bed, a knife in his body.  Who killed him?  And why?

These two women are connected by this farm, and it seems that history may repeat itself.  Can Kate find out the family curse and stop it?  Can she find happiness with Joe and make peace with his mother?

This is what I call a "light thriller".  There is a little bit of mystery, and I did like the story of Hannah.  Kate at first seems like she's willing to let everyone walk all over her and that kinda annoyed me.  But she does find her inner tough girl and I really enjoyed seeing her growth throughout the novel.  

And Hannah.  Poor Hannah.  She also finds her voice--as you will see.  Her story is sad, but really turns out in a satisfying way.  The sins of the father, indeed.  Read it and you'll know what I mean.

Available in paperback and e-book

Rating:  6/10  A light read about women living in a small town, struggling to find their voices, and stand up for what is right.  Also a great story about family tragedies haunting generations.

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