Redonk Nutshell: Burned out writer takes tabloid job to write a book about a scandalous painter and his harem of women, and when he meets “the one that got away” he finds himself inexplicably drawn to her damaged yet strong temperment
You can’t really go wrong with Anne Stuart, and The Widow is no exception. Â Riding on the tail end of my Gothic fiction wave, The WidowÂ involves the twisted and bizarre story ofÂ Aristide Pompasse, a brilliant, womanizing artist who longs for the one woman that managed to leave him. Â His death brings her back to his estate in Tuscany to pick up the shattered pieces he left behind. Â Maguire, a tabloid reporter posing as an insurance broker, weasels his way onto the estate and begins toÂ catalogÂ the bizarre life that Pompasse lived. Â His wife, delicate Charlie, is a study in damagedÂ femininity, having managed to be the only one of Pompasse’s women that managed to successfully leave him. Â He is drawn to Charlie, especially as things begin to take a turn for the weirder when paintings turn up mutilated and suggesting Pompasse’s death was not an accident.
Charlie is a woman that has barely managed to pull the threads of her life together with any sense of normalcy. Â Married to the brilliant artist at the age of seventeen, Charlie lived with him and his brooding collection of models and women for five years until she finally garnered the courage to leave. Â She’s a shell of a woman, barely believing herself capable of feeling passion or contentment. Â When Maguire bullishly pushes his way around her at the Tuscan estate, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. Â When things begin to get heated, both in and out of the bedroom, Charlie finds herself floundering for her sense of self.
The Widow is a dark and bizarre tale set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Â I enjoyed the darker elements of the story that crept consistently throughout the background (traitorous mistresses, adulterous fiances, insane mutterings), and when the story came to a climax and all was revealed it was a satisfactory conclusion.
This was my first contempory read of Ms. Stuart’s and I enjoyed it. It was a quick, fluffy read. Â No lie, I finished this in a few hours.
The Widow by Anne Stuart, 384 pgs, pub 2001
Romance: 1/5 Â Â Â Â Â Raunch: 3/5