BOOK TOUR REVIEW: The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey
The Widows of Braxton County
by Jess McConkey
Family secrets can bind and destroy…
Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she marries Joe Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn’t quite as idyllic as she’d hoped. It’s filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who—unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding—will be living with them.
As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krause family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death that haunts Kate as a dangerous, unexplainable chain of events begins.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I had a hard time reading past the first third of this book…Kate is being abused by her new husband and doesn’t really do too much about it. She blames herself for catching him in a bad mood, basically blames everything but her husband Joe. But I’m glad I did continue reading, because she finally decided to get out of her situation and that’s when the book took a turn for the better.
The story is told in alternating chapters. First is the ale of Hannah Krause, who was the wife of the stern Jacob Krause in the year 1890. Living there with her son and stepson, she is named as the prime suspect for her husband’s mysterious murder, and soon the whole town is convinced she’s guilty even though she knows she’s not. The other part of the book revolves around Kate in the present day. She met Joe Krause through online dating and after a whirlwind marriage moves into his old family farm. She hears whispers of a family curse, and it seems the rumors are true when circumstances become similar to those that occurred in 1890.
As I said, about the first third of the book nearly made me quit reading. I have absolutely no tolerance for domestic abuse, and even less for a woman who just stays there and takes it. No specific age was given for Kate, but I’d guess she was in her 30’s. It’s hard to believe that a woman of that age in the 21st century would allow this to happen to her. I’m not blind, I know it still does happen, but Kate saw the warning signs and didn’t get out of there before something happened to her. GRRR. But that’s enough of this tangent.
I didn’t fully connect with Kate, but I am beginning to feel like I have this problem often in books told from the third person. Truth be told, I liked Hannah much more. She was willing to do anything to protect her son, and no matter what was thrown at her she came out with her head held high.
One thing I didn’t understand was the need for all the secrecy and clandestine conversations between Rose and Will. I mean, the reason they had for this was revealed at the end, but I didn’t think it was a big enough secret that they had to act the way they did, so cryptically, about it.
In the end I was satisfied by finding out the truth, it just took a bit more time than I would have liked to get there.
About the Author
Jess McConkey, aka Shirley Damsgaard, is an award-winning writer of short fiction and the author of the Ophelia and Abby mysteries andLove Lies Bleeding. She lives in a small Iowa town, where she served as postmaster for more than twenty years.
Connect with Jess on Facebook.