by C. J. Carey
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Pub Date 09 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 16 Aug 2022
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark
"Widowland is a compulsive, terrifying read."—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code
For readers of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle comes a thrilling feminist dystopian novel set in an alternative history that terrifyingly imagines what a British alliance with Germany would look like if the Nazis had won WWII.
To control the past, they edited history. To control the future, they edited literature.
LONDON, 1953. Thirteen years have passed since England surrendered to the Nazis and formed a Grand Alliance with Germany. It was forced to adopt many of its oppressive ideologies, one of which was the strict classification of women into hierarchical groups based on the perceived value they brought to society.
Rose Ransom, a member of the privileged Geli class, remembers life from before the war but knows better than to let it show. She works for the Ministry of Culture, rewriting the classics of English literature to ensure there are no subversive thoughts that will give women any ideas.
Outbreaks of insurgency have been seen across the country with graffiti made up of seditious lines from forbidden works by women painted on public buildings. Suspicion has fallen on Widowland, the run-down slums where childless women over fifty have been banished. Rose is given the dangerous task of infiltrating Widowland to find the source of the rebellion before the Leader arrives in England for the Coronation ceremony of King Edward VIII and Queen Wallis. Will Rose follow her instructions and uncover the criminals? Or will she fight for what she knows in her heart is right?
With wit, suspense, and sheer originality, C. J. Carey has crafted an eerie story of "what if" that explores how some systems of female control cherished by the Nazis would have developed in a German-occupied England.
Praise for Widowland:
"Brilliantly conceived and executed, Widowland is a mind-bender of a novel about the power of literature to change minds. I loved it!" —Mark Sullivan, bestselling author of The Last Green Valley and Beneath a Scarlet Sky
"Storytelling at its best! I rarely come across a book I can't put down but I devoured this one." —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of two historical mystery series as well as several internationally bestselling historical novels
"An electrifying, Orwellian dystopia with a thrilling feminist twist. In Carey's expert hands, one can truly believe that literature can change the world." —Lara Prescott, New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets We Kept
"Tense, thought-provoking, and terrifying, Widowland is about a woman's search for truth in a world bent on destroying all traces of it." —Natalie Jenner, international bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
This was the first book for me to read by these authors but definitely not my last!! The story and characters are so well developed and the book is beautifully written. This will stick with you long after you finish the book. Highly recommend!!!
Widowland by C. J. Carey is a unique and entertaining dystopian and alternative history novel that gives us the insight into what if…
This novel is set in England and gives us the alternative history of what the world could look like if WWII never happened as it did. This book takes a few givens: Nazi control over England, a new and created society, segregation along not just race/religion, but also among gender and usefulness as decided by the new government.
Societal classes are enforced, and history is being rewritten by the victors.
Rose is a great character. Her quest is very unique and dare I say I was drawn to her personality and the fundamental concepts, decisions, and inner voice that were presented within this story.
I don’t want to give anything away, so I will just say I went into this with certain expectations, but the book delivered so much more…and with a side of attitude and flare. I was pleasantly surprised and definitely recommend it.
Thank you NG and Sourcebooks Landmark for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 8/6/22.
A rich, challenging--and disturbing dystopian novel based on an absolutely fascinating premise and woven of gorgeously researched history. A truly provocative and unique read--Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Sourcebook and to Netgalley for the opportunity and the pleasure of the read.
“Widowland” by CJ Carey is a dystopian book that asks a “what if” question - what if during WWII Britain had lost to Germany - what might’ve happened?
As others have noted, this book sparks a resemblance to “1984” and “The Handmaidens Tale,” and having read both of those books, I agree. Rewriting history is mentioned, along with not talking or “remembering” the Before Times, and how women - praised for being able to bear children - are second class, or worse, citizens. Reading is, for all intents and purposes, forbidden outside of school - but the only books to be read are those that have been modified by the government to enforce the ideal feminine traits.
I found the idea of this book very interesting - and I can see it being a popular book club book, especially with the discussion questions listed in the back. The world building I enjoyed - I liked the explanation of “how things worked” and found it rather interesting. I liked how, to throw in a “Hunger Games” reference, the lowest (poorest) people weren’t as downtrodden as believed by those not living in that segregated area. I enjoyed reading about the rewriting of history - not just news, but also literature, movies, and the like (thinking of a corrected “Casablanca” makes me think the entire movie wouldn’t be available). I also liked how, unlike in Hunger Games, the story was told with a main character who seemed to almost have it all - the privilege, the extended family - but inside was conflicted.
But somewhere around the 80% mark, things started falling flat for my enjoyment. I know that the story picks up around that point, but things seemed to move very quickly, but at the same time (at least to me) rather from left field. I do think I want to reread the book at another time, but I think it’s more to enjoy the world building and some of the literary mentions. I was a titch disappointed that Ms. Carey is working on a sequel - while I understand why the world was an interesting one to visit, but I hope that Rose’s story isn’t continued as I rather liked the ending as it stands. Maybe a further visit into Widowland? Speaking of Widowland, do read the Author’s Interview as she mentions how she came up with the title of the book.
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