Inspired by the true story of Maude Collins, Ohio's first female sheriff, and prominent labor and community organizer Mary Harris 'Mother' Jones, Montgomery's debut novel features two tough-as-nails, strong-willed women whose empathy leaves a lasting impression. A simultaneous examination of women's rights, coal mining, prohibition, and Appalachian life, make this is a fantastic choice for historical fiction fans.
... intriguing ... Beautifully plotted and filled with believable characters, The Widows explores an era and an area struggling to be a part of the modern 20th century, yet constantly pulled backward to its unsettled past ... Jess Montgomery... draws on actual historical incidents that richly explore the people behind events in the launch of this series that shows much potential ... Montgomery skillfully explores the residents ... Montgomery's storytelling skills and historical research in The Widows make this new series one to look forward to.
... riveting ... The author's extensive research into the issues surrounding this struggle are presented with compassion and genuine emotion ... This amazing, thoroughly researched historical novel by debut author Jess Montgomery shows how love, determination, and courage can overcome bitterness, deceit, and violence.
[A] historical mystery with richly developed characters ... It’s an emotional tale — set alongside an equally emotional (and dangerous) struggle to unionize the town’s draconian coal-mining operation — but it feels accurate. Adding to the depth of the story is the absence of mustache-twirling bad guys or other easy caricatures. Instead, characters’ dark motivations are believable and authentic, rendering their choices fascinating and memorable, and making The Widows an all-the-more-effecting page-turner with a deep moral center and an unforgettable cast.
...a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community ... There are plenty of secrets in The Widows, and Montgomery creates a layered, rich mystery that makes the most of its historical setting. Her prose is captivating and sharp, in tune both with the natural landscape and the human corruption that haunts the mountains ... The Widows is deeply researched, and Montgomery’s writing carries with it the confidence of truth ... a fantastic debut.
Occasional interruptions to explain things like how to make sorghum are distracting, and many of the minor characters are not well fleshed-out. However, these are small problems in an otherwise engaging debut. An extensive Author's Note provides insight into the women and historical events that inspired Montgomery ... Vivid historical details, an intriguing mystery, and strong female characters.