The Widows

A Novel

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Pub Date 08 Jan 2019 | Archive Date 08 Jan 2019
St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books

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Description

The Widows kept me on the edge of my seat. Montgomery is a masterful storyteller.” —Lee Martin, author of Pulitzer Prize-Finalist The Bright Forever

Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.

Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.

From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be—and that his murder is far more complex than either of them could have imagined.

Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.


"The Widows is a gripping, beautifully written novel about two women avenging the murder of the man they both loved."—Hallie Ephron, New York Times bestselling author of You'll Never Know, Dear

"Jess Montgomery's gorgeous writing can be just as dark and terrifying as a subterranean cave when the candle is snuffed out, but her prose can just as easily lead you to the surface for a gasp of air and a glimpse of blinding, beautiful sunlight. This is a powerful novel: a tale of loss, greed, and violence, and the story of two powerful women who refuse to stand down."—Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Ballad, A Land More Kind than Home, and This Dark Road to Mercy

"[A] flinty, heartfelt mystery that sings of hawks and history, of coal mines and the urgent fight for social justice."—Julia Keller, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bone on Bone

The Widows kept me on the edge of my seat. Montgomery is a masterful storyteller.” —Lee Martin, author of Pulitzer Prize-Finalist The Bright Forever

Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that...


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ISBN 9781250184528
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Featured Reviews

This was a captivating historical fiction story set in the 1920s about the lives of coals miners and their efforts in organizing unions. It centered on two strong dedicated women who fought for justice and truth. Lily became Ohio’s first woman sheriff after her husband Daniel was murdered in the line of duty. Marvena, who lost her common law husband due to unsafe mining conditions, took over his fight and became the voice for unionization. This was a fascinating read that will capture your interest from the very first page. Highly recommended!

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Revenge keeps the pain of the wound seeping blood into the forever. Lily Ross bends wearily as she sets things right in the Rossville jail. Strapped with a derringer at her ankle, Lily eyes the prisoner in the cell facing her. The appalachian foothills in 1925 in this small Ohio town provide a panoramic view of the Devil's Backbone and the coal mines that give dangerous employment to the men of the community. Lily's own father was killed in a mine blast in the Widowmaker due to a build-up of methane gas. Lily tends to her duties as the jail mistress. It's just within sight of their small home where her two young children sleep contently under the watchful eye of Hildy. Her husband, Sheriff Daniel Ross, left to pick up another prisoner. He promises to be back in time for her famous buttermilk pie. As the hours pass, Lily waits alert to any footsteps on the stairs. But the footsteps on the steps aren't going to belong to Daniel. His Uncle Elias stands in the doorway with sorry written in the form of blood on his hands and his shirt. Daniel has been shot to death on the county road. It appears that the prisoner wrestled his gun and the tragedy occurs. Within hours of the funeral, Lily is approached by Daniel's deputy to take over the job of sheriff until the elections can take place. And here is where Jess Montgomery steadies your hands as you clench this book tightly. The character of Lily Ross will take on the owners of the local mines, the Bureau of Mine Safety, and the community that wishes to look the other way. Lily will lock eyes with Marvena, a mine widow, who seems to know Daniel on a different level. She, too, knows that Daniel's death reeks of murder. Montgomery presents a storyline so character driven and so polished in its detail that you feel like you are in surround-sound. The era is one of sacrifice and hard living in which tomorrow is never fully promised. At the core is an adept layering of threads filled with rawness and reality. And two women, Lily and Marvena, will settle scores and take on inhuman challenges presented to them. Jess Montgomery keeps the pulse of this story pumping and you will savor each and every moment. I received a copy of The Widows through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and to Jess Montgomery for the opportunity.

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The Widows is based on a true event where a widow of a sheriff took over in his stead upon his death. While the surrounding story is all fictionalized, the true event is based on the first woman sheriff in Ohio. The fictitious story offers up an engaging tale of mystery as two women in the late sheriff's life meet and search for justice to avenge his senseless murder. So beautifully written, I enjoyed getting back to this book every time. Jess Montgomery writes about heartbreak and desperation in a powerful way, as dark as the coal in the mines, and the hearts of those who drive the men into the shafts.

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I always enjoy books that are inspired by actual events and The Widows by Jess Montgomery is no exception. The character Lily Ross is based on Ohio’s first female sheriff. Lily has just buried her husband Daniel when she meets Marvena, a poor coal miner’s daughter who may have been Daniel’s first love. Lily is appointed the town’s sheriff and Marvena is secretly trying to unionize the mine labor. These are two very strong-willed women with different goals that lead them to each other for support. It’s the 1920’s. The town depends on coal mining, where the 1% gets filthy rich and the rest die trying. Lily’s in-laws are deep into the greed of the industry, and Marvena and Lily begin to suspect there’s more to Daniel’s murder than an escaped convict. Montgomery writes with beautiful lyrics that bring the country, the wildlife, the people and their meager sustenance to vivid life. This is a truly enjoyable and captivating read. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for making it available.)

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The Widow's is a wonderful historical fiction abouta 1920's coal mining town in Ohio. The story is told be 2 different women avenging the death of the man they loved. This is a gripping novel and I could not put it down.

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“The Widows” by Jess Armstrong is a glimpse into the lives of several women in the early 1900’s that are forced to face a harsh world when their lives have collapsed around. Lily, takes on the role of Sherriff after her husband is gunned down in cold blood. Marvena, finds herself battling the local mining company for better pay and working conditions after her husband is buried alive after a cave-in. These two women along with the women in their community must fight for the future of their families against insurmountable odds in a time when women were considered weak. This is a well written novel of love, faith, courage and strength of women who helped to shape the world that we have the privilege to live in. I was given an advanced copy of this book, and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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The Widows by Jess Montgomery is a wonderful piece of historical fiction, set in 1920s Ohio coal country. Lily Ross, the wife of the town sheriff, is shocked to learn of her husband's mysterious death. She is devastated to lose her loving husband and the father of their two children (and one on the way). After his funeral, she comes in contact with coal miner widow Marvena Whitcomb, who is desperate to figure out what has happened to her daughter. Both Marvena and Lily learn that Lily's husband Daniel was not the man they knew him to be, and the mystery into his death is extremely complex. This book was such a great read and Jess Montgomery is a wonderful storyteller. I loved the mystery, the details plucked from true life, and the amazing depiction of a difficult time in this country's history. Highly recommended! 5 out of 5 stars for The Widows by Jess Montgomery.

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Mining coal was a long , dark dangerous job. Without rules and regulations about the safety of the mines it was even worse. A lot of men, fathers husbands, brothers, friends lost there lives working there. This story ties in the lives of the miners and the women, widows left behind. Lily is married to the Sheriff, Sheriff Ross. After her husband is shot and killed she becomes acting Sheriff. While going through her husbands papers, she comes across the name of another women, Malverna. Curious, she sets out to discover just exactly who this women is. She finds out that Malverna is also a widow. Her husband died in the mines, just like Lily's father had. Malverna has taken the mantle from her husband and is trying to get all the miners together in Hope's of Unionization. This will help the miners with safety and better wages. Luther the mine owner is totally against this. He has brought in Pinkertons, which in this case are hired thugs, to put a stop to any miners uprising. More secrets are to be discovered by both women. Will they let their desire for vengeance overtake their concerns for the benefit of the mining town? Excellent read. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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It took a couple of chapters for the book to find it’s footing but after that it just ran away with my imagination. The story is unique and it is well researched as to the realities of Appalachian life in the beginning of the 20th century. The details about the people such as Lily, Daniel, Marvena, and Tom and places in the story make it come alive in the imagination. The characters have depth and you can understand their actions because the author has given you enough information to understand their backstory. The intricate relationship between Lily and Marvena was well done and it didn’t end up with the stereotypical “cat fight” between women who loved the same man. I liked the fact that the two women were strong figures who developed their strength through the times and events with which they were faced. As a mystery it kept me interested all the way through. I was intrigued by the many details that were scattered throughout the story that helped the readers try to discover the mystery even as the characters were discovering it for themselves. As a first historical novel for Jess Montgomery it was well written and among the better books I have read this year. If there are more in this series I will look forward to reading them.

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I love it when a book has an absolutely GREAT opening chapter and this one had a dosey. I was hooked from the start and read it in just a few settings, life always intervenes when you have a good book to read. I was drawn into all of the characters, Lily, Marvena, Daniel, George, Luther, and the families, even though this is a fiction book, it reads as if it all could be true. Nothing seemed to be unbelievable. I loved Lily’s character, she truly loved her husband, she was feisty, gutsy, smart, beautiful, caring, and most of all, good with a shotgun. Her character is based upon the first woman sheriff in Ohio in 1924. This book has it all, love, murder, mystery, heart, and concludes with a stellar ending. I was completely entertained and I learned a little bit about coal mining in Ohio with the miners and the Pinkertons and the research for the timeframe in the 1920’s was spot on. This one gets high 5 *****’s, I will definitely be looking for more from this author. I was given the opportunity to receive this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This one gets 5*****’s.

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The setting kept on reminding me of the wild west even though this takes place in 1920s Ohio. The coal owner and the mafia owning the law helps the feel of lawlessness in the book. Lily has to deal with her husband being killed and not believing the story of his death. Helpfully, she becomes the temporary sheriff so she has some authority to find out that happened. The other perspective is Marvena who is tied strongly with the miners and is demanding their rights. Both characters are strong and want the same outcome even though they come from different aspects. They're both full characters on their own. I don't know if this was intentional but I thought the title referred to Marvena and Lily but as the story goes on we meet more women who become widows. Men do dangerous things that get them killed and then we watch the women have to live with the consequences.

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“…So many believe women are too sensitive for life’s brutal truths. That’s only, Lily thinks, because they’ve not experienced the brutal truths life gives particularly and uniquely to women.”* I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. In 1925, two strong women live in an Ohio mining town. The man who loves them both is killed and together they sort the facts from the fiction about his death and his relationships with them both. With Lily’s father and Marvena’s common law husband both causalities of unsafe mining practices, the plight of the miners becomes a personal battle. Lily is appointed sheriff, and she uses her new position to right wrongs. To me, the message of this book is the power of women. Both Lily and Marvena are underestimated. Despite Lily’s experience as jail mistress, no one expects her to do more than be a figurehead until a new sheriff is elected. Yet, she uses everything at her disposal to do her job well and to make the town a better place. As a character, she grows throughout the book, but her goodness and determination are evident from her first appearance on the page. The book tackles relationships between romantic partners, family members, and rivals, showing how the dynamics serve to build bridges and to burn them down. Plenty of details are included to satisfy history buffs, yet the book isn’t bogged down by the past. Quickly I became invested in Lily and Marvena’s lives, wanting them to prevail and forge a lasting bond. While historical fiction isn’t one of my go to genres, these two women and their struggles, tragedies, and triumphs made the book a five star read for me. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to experience THE WIDOWS in advance of its release. *Please note that my review is based on uncorrected text.

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"Life often demands doing contradictory things in exchange for survival". Life in the Appalachian mining town of Kinship, Ohio changed in the blink of an eye following a 1924 cave-in resulting from an undetectable buildup of methane gas ignited by lightning. John Rutherford, Marvena Whitcomb's common-law husband and Caleb McArthur, Lily Ross's father died trying to rescue trapped miners in the Widowmaker. Lily and Marvena would soon meet each other under less than ideal circumstances. Lily Ross was jail mistress, keeping prisoner records and assisting her husband, extremely popular Sheriff, Daniel Ross. Daniel's half-brother, Luther owned and managed Ross Mining. Miners lived in company housing and were paid in scrip, in lieu of money, to be used for purchases in the company store. Workers who complained often were forced to vacate company housing units. Luther hired Pinkertons, thugs used an enforcers. Sheriff Ross was sent by a Pinkerton to pick up and jail a prisoner who was a miner. Daniel never returned. Lily was informed that he was killed by the "escaping" prisoner. Lily and Marvena meet after Daniel's funeral. Each woman has a connection to him. What happened to the close, honest marriage between Daniel and Lily? The uncomfortable relationship between these two strong minded, determined women was ever changing. Lily had been appointed acting sheriff until a new election. This title would enable her to investigate Daniel's death. Marvena would "keep stirring up" what her husband started, the organization of mine workers. Luther Ross with the backing of hired Pinkertons, was not having it! Lily and Marvena had joined the "sorrowful sisterhood of widows". Will acting Sheriff Lily Ross glean the details of her husband's death? Will Marvena Whitcomb's attempts to organize mine workers be successful? Did Lily truly know Daniel? So many questions...deaths...disappearances. "The Widows" by Jess Montgomery was a historical fiction debut novel loosely based upon the true story of Ohio's first female sheriff, Maude Collins and activist, "Mother" Jones. Both Lily and Marvena were women crusaders fighting corruption and seeking justice. I highly recommend this book. Thank you St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Widows".

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This was a wonderfully written story that's filled with intrigue. It's apparent the author conducted extensive research into the novel as it feels like stepping back into a different time. I greatly appreciated the attention to detail without the details being over-elaborate. I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and western novels. (If western novels are not your thing, don't let that stop you from buying this book, you will enjoy it.)

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