Sheila's Reviews > Widow's Walk

Widow's Walk by Kenneth Weene
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's review
Jul 20, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: cultural, relationships
Read in June, 2010

I read about this book online and was delighted when the author offered to send me a copy for review. Kenneth Weene’s background in teaching, pastoral care and psychology means he brings a lot of authenticity to this tale of a Catholic widow, torn between religious obligation and a longing for life. And my “mongrel Christian” background, which includes Catholicism, ensured that the subject matter would appeal to me.

In the opening scenes, Mary Flanagan is introduced as a mother caring for her quadriplegic son. Her life revolves round menial tasks and church sacraments, leaving no time for anything else. Meanwhile son Sean exists in front of the TV and scarcely believes there can be more to life. And his sister Kathleen cares for the dying, believing her own hopes of a future are long gone in her state of childlessness and divorce.

With such deep emotional pain in the characters, this could have been a hard book to get into. But the author cleverly tells the tale from the start with a light touch, delving deeply into one mind then shifting to another, revealing the mitigating details that make the impossible bearable.

Soon the scene is shifting and the outlook brightening. Happiness, wearing its many different guises, invades all three lives, bringing promise and hope. Just as in the real world, some promises are more permanently fulfilled than others, and some might betray. But the scenes of dawning love and family life are beautifully painted with convivial humor; a real delight to read.

The author’s timing is perfect too, with problems intruding on joy, just as they do in reality. These problems lead to an absorbing darkness that threatens to conquer all, but life goes on, widows do walk, and walks do lead to pastures new. There’s a beautifully satisfying symmetry in the final scene. The reader is left knowing a world filled with infinite possibilities for good and ill, and recognizing human hope.

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