The Widow's Weeds by Allie Cresswell
Review,  Contemporary

The Widow’s Weeds by Allie Cresswell – fiction about domestic abuse

The Widow’s Weeds is touching, emotive, and heart-wrenching contemporary fiction about domestic abuse but I didn’t enjoy the slow pace and romantic complications.

fiction about domestic abuse

The Widow’s Weeds (Widows, #3) by Allie Cresswell

Publication Date : April 25, 2023 

Read Date : April 7, 2023

Genre : Contemporary

Pages : 416

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Previous Books in Series –

The Hoarder’s Widow (Book 1)
The Widow’s Mite (Book 2)


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.

Disclaimer – Many thanks to author for eARC.
This post contains affiliate links.


fiction about domestic abuse

The Widow’s Weeds is contemporary fiction, third book in ‘Widows’ series, that follows Viola’s story along with continuing Maisie’s story from previous books. The story is about domestic abuse, struggle of victims of domestic abuse, survival, grief, loss, alcoholism, addiction, bullying, manipulation, bereavement and finding a support system and contentment through friendship, and embracing passion to heal.

+/- Writing is same as previous books, descriptive and emotive but this time there is heavy theme and darkness that comes with it. The story is written in dual timeline with alternative third person narrative from Viola and Maisie’s perspective. The Pace was mostly steady but I found this even slower than previous books. The middle portion is dragged too much and I often wanted to skim read so I could read it fast.

+ Viola’s story takes us six years back starting from her unhappy abusive marriage, her love for garden and how one day she was almost beaten to death that pushed her to get out of the clutches of her oppressive and cruel husband, finding her way in the world, struggling with the mental trauma of her marriage and how gardening and meeting other women who went through the same helped her have hope, happiness and belief in love.

+ Her journey is most touching, sensitive, and emotive. I loved reading her perspective. I was curious to find out how she turned from a timid housewife who had lots of love in her heart turned into an alcoholic, bitter shell in the present. I was also curious to know why her relationship with her son was complicated when it was clear in early chapters that he was on her side and even helped her settle her divorce and the money she received from it, why she was living in the current house when she could have a better house with the garden she loves so much.

+ I admired her resilience and determination. She wasn’t social person but I loved how she indirectly worked with volunteers helping victims of domestic abuse, and how she felt relatable with their situations. I can’t believe how she must feel witnessing the signs of an unhappy and abusive marriage that could rekindle her worst memories and trauma and yet she was brave and courageous to break through that hold and even tried to save a woman whom she met at community allotment.

+ My heart ached reading how much she has gone through in the past six years. I liked how she was aware of what she was doing even in alcohol-induced daze. She felt everything from what happened to what she did to others and I loved how she accepted help when it has become too much.

+/- As for the Maisie. I have to say I didn’t enjoy her portion as much as previous book. There were some amazing moments like when she, Frances and Micheal talked about her grief that made her realize what she felt and also when she could figure out what she wanted with her complicated love life. But up to that point I was pretty much frustrated with whole drama.

+/- I could understand how she felt about the impending marriage of her daughter who is going away to another country after marriage, how she was being left out by her own daughter from any preparations of the marriage, feeling dread of wearing the same color dress as her friends, and the constant push from Oliver confusing her feelings even though deep down she knew who she wanted; and then there is renovation going on that needed her attention. There is a change in the women’s group with Gwen coming out and dating Val, Maisie’s neighbor which brought its own kind of drama. It sure isn’t easy to deal with everything and not able to talk about it with anyone. However, I can’t help but feel her part of the story wasn’t going anywhere until last 30% of the book.

I was tired of waiting to see the solution of love triangle. It was clear Oliver isn’t right for her. There was something off about him and the feeling kept increasing as the story progressed. Oliver was more overbearing in this book and I hated him for trying to control Maisie and her life. Maisie could see and feel that too but was afraid of his reaction and also not wanting to ruin the friendship which unltimately kept giving wrong signals to Oliver making the scenario and drama more annoying.

+ I enjoyed reading more about side characters. I loved Gwen, how she helped Viola, and never stopped caring about her even after her behavior. I am glad she finally found happiness. I didn’t like Frances. She was rude. I just couldn’t believe how she never considered Maisie’s feelings and didn’t even try to understand her. I loved James from the beginning and that didn’t change in this book. Minnie was also lovely. Amy is interesting. I didn’t know how much she loved Gwen as a friend until this book. Venessa’s story was heart-shattering.

+ What I loved most, apart from Viola’s story and her journey to finding hope and moving on in life, is the themes and layers in the book. I loved how the author represented victims of domestic abuse, not just women but men as well, how they felt and why it takes different time and triggers for them to cut off abusive relationships, while some cannot leave at all, how they move on in life and it doesn’t end there for everyone, they all have trauma to deal with. I also liked the mental health angle with Harringtons family. It was touching to see how Maisie, Minnie, and Viola dealt with their bereavement differently.

+ I had no clue where things are going and how everything will turn out until it was revealed in the climax. I wasn’t surprised to see Oliver’s true face in the climax. But at the same time, I was worried about Maisie. I felt bad for her and I could see how the whole situation took off the chunk of her confidence. Viola was mind-blowing in this part. I loved how she healed or at least is on the path of healing and how she helped Maisie. End is satisfying, uplifting, and hopeful.

Overall, The Widow’s Weeds is touching, emotive and heart-wrenching contemporary about domestic abuse but I didn’t enjoy the slow pace and romantic complications.

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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