Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Widows of Braxton County” as Want to Read:
The Widows of Braxton County
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Widows of Braxton County

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  591 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey is a haunting and suspenseful novel about family secrets and how well we really know the people we love.
Kate is looking forward to starting a new life with her new husband, Joseph Krause. She leaves the big city and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years.
Instead of something out of Cou
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Avon (first published July 15th 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Widows of Braxton County, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  591 ratings  ·  106 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Diane S ☔
This story takes place on a farm in Iowa, 140 yrs. apart, with two similar deaths of two men. In the present day, Kate newly married, gets the shock of her young life when she arrives on the farm and finds her new mother-in-law in residence. Her husband just neglected to mention that part. She quickly learns and becomes part of small town gossip, family feuds and many family secrets. Can a family really be cursed? Can injustices ever be corrected? Can a ghost from the past reach out and calm wit ...more
Barbara Mitchell
Just finished this stunning mystery yesterday. It is set in rural Iowa in two time periods. The first is 1890 on the Krause farm where we meet Hannah Krause, wife of Jacob. Jacob is a brutish lout who beats her and has practically imprisoned her on the farm. Her teenage stepson lives in a cabin near the house because he hates Hannah. Her only purpose and joy in life is her nine year old son Willie. He's also Jacob's son but bears no resemblance to his father.

Second, in 2012 we meet Kate, bride
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate readily accepts marrying a farmer name Joe,just to escape her meddling grandmother. Living in her household has not done anything in her favor, she rather live in a shack than to live with her. Not to mention her unrealistic demands and the pity party she throws so she can gain sympathy. However Kate is not buying the act and she cannot wait to start a new life with Joe. Although her grandmother thinks she is making a huge mistake rushing into a marriage, considering her opinion is the furt ...more
Suspense Magazine
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate is a young bride who puts her city dwelling life behind her when she marries Joe Krause and moves to his farm in Iowa, which has been in his family for over a hundred years. She wants to build a life and a family there with Joe.
But after she arrives, she discovers that he has misrepresented many things, and outright lied about others. He said his mother lived elsewhere, but she doesn’t. He said that she would be able to pursue her dreams, while helping him build their future. There are cons
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I couldn't put it down.
Julie-ann James
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Real surprise to read. Never heard of author. Couldn't put it down. Really great mystery book.
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey is a haunting tale of deeply buried family secrets that leave us wondering if the sins of the father do, in fact, haunt the generations to come after. I really enjoyed this novel of generations past and present and the ghostly feel it had about it. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Coleen Marlo and she does a fantastic job. When I first started listening I wasn’t sure I was going to like her but it wasn’t long before I did and I’m sure that her ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Krause was a very happy bride as she traveled with her husband, Joe, to her new home in Braxton County, Iowa. Kate and Joe met online but Kate felt that they were just right for each other. Kate's widowed mother had passed away and her grandparents raised Kate. Her grandmother complained endlessly and Kate's life was not a happy one.

When the new couple arrived at Joe's farm, a woman that Kate first mistook for a housekeeper met Joe and Kate at the door. The woman was Trudy Krause, Joe's mot
Beth Cutwright
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my surprise read for the first quarter of the year. I was surprised to be "hooked" by the first couple of pages. I liked that it took place in Iowa. Kate absolutely loved the idea of love, a family, a homestead on an Iowa farm that had been in the family for over 100 years. That spoke of steadfast family and Kate had always wanted that, but had never experienced anything steadfast. Her grandmother who raised her had only belittled and put her down. Imagine grandma with a very wide mean ...more
E.M. MacCallum
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit, the title initially sucked me in. “Widows of Braxton County” is an entertaining mystery about small-community living. You can never get away from the gossip, even if it's 140 years old!

The story was rounded nicely and there wasn't a single moment I found wasted or repetitive. Jess McConkey did an amazing job with her plot and storytelling. I especially liked that we were pulled into a world no one wants to see or be in and we were somewhat given the chance to wonder: what if that was m
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
So many books sound appealing and then just fall short of your expectations. This was an inherently sad novel. The story alternates between the past and present and the stories are very much parallel. Murder then, murder now. Kate unsuspectingly marries into a family of abusers and her excitement at marriage and what she sees a freedom from her abusive, demanding grandmother quickly turns sour. She struggles to fit in and find her place, her mother-in-law is mean and belittling, her husband isn' ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-books, mystery

***Received this book from author***

This is one of those books that is hard to rate because you fear of giving out spoilers (hate it when people do that with good books).

It kept me guessing to the very last page (seriously, the actual last page).

Kate falls for a Farmer, Joe Krause online and eagerly moves to his small town. Unbeknown to Kate, her husband, her new farm and even her new town is hiding a big, dark secret. The towns people believe that the Krause family is cursed with deaths, mis
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was good. The story moved along, but I found the story line about ghosts and curses a bit much. Drama stretched out way too much throughout the story. Very close to being a chick book.
Jeanne Adamek
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story really flowed. Contrary other opinions, I did not find Kate as weak, but in a situation that surprised her and because she really loved her husband she really tried her hardest to find solutions to what was going on.

I also like the character of Hannah. Unlike many, I did not find the ending surprising. I thought that the novel was well written, and reading the story was a experience I enjoyed.
Lauren Conley
I didn’t think either murders were a mystery. It seemed pretty obvious who both the killers were from the beginning. The story seemed to just keep dragging on. I also could never feel that there was ever any love at all between Kate and joe. To me it seemed like they had literally just met. The only part that really surprised me was the last 2 pages. I did really like how it would go to the past in the late 1800s.
A story that touches on family legacy and domestic violence.

The characters are well developed, but some of the situations in this book are a little unbelievable. Like after the quick marriage, why did she even stay after all the discoveries she made, and the abuse? Most women of today would have been gone.

Anyway, it does have its little twists and turns, and it did keep me interested.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book neither haunting or suspenseful. in fact skimmed the last few chapters. the story of Hannah was disjointed and while a travesty I felt no connection to her. I disliked the author trying to make a correlation between 1890 and present day. the whole current story was not believable.nnall in all not worth the effort to read.
A quiet mystery about family secrets and unresolved histories. Good read!
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very slow read. I just couldn’t get too interested, although I did finish it.
Rosemarie Oconnor
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was intriguing from start to finish
Loni DeRock
A little hokey.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/3 stars
he Widows of Braxton County is yet another novel that uses the past versus present narrative switch. However, rather than groan at its overuse, in this instance the narrative shift makes sense as one of the few concrete ways to tie together the past with Kate’s present. In the context of the story, one has to know what happened 140 years ago in order to obtain the full impact of Kate’s situation. The parallels drawn between the two time periods are indeed creepy and provide much of the Gothic el ...more
Reeka (BoundbyWords)
As seen on my blog:

I feel like I'm never in the mood for something eerily mysterious until I'm reading something eerie, and mysterious. I couldn't flip the pages of The Widows of Braxton County fast enough. The first chapter of this book was perfection in tone, it placed me in the exact time period, and tragic feel, that it was going for. Alternating time periods are always a win in my book, and the execution of that style was done with knowledge and care.

1890: Hannah Krause has just bared wi
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Widows of Braxton County, Kate marries Joe Krause and moves to the family farm in Iowa.
It's not like she pictured or hoped it would be. For one thing, she didn't know that Joe's mother, Trudy, would be living with them. It didn't help that Trudy didn't like Kate at all. Eventually, she learns of a long kept secret in the Krause family about a death long ago that still has the town gossiping.

I really enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it. I really liked the story format. It jumps back
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

Shellie’s quick take: A women’s thriller with a slight paranormal bent that includes domestic abuse and family secrets as major themes.

Shellie’s description: When Kate, a public accountant from the city, moves in with her new husband, she has dreams of marital bliss and a family. But when she arrives at his family’s Victorian farm house in the country she is surprised and upset to find that they will be living with her terse mother-in-law. However, Ka
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Can family history be repeated? Can murder be repeated and with the same weapon, the same manner of death, and to the same family member but years apart? Can it really be called a family curse?

The Krause family had a history of being difficult to get along with and with being abusive to their wives. When Kate married Joe, she wasn't aware of the history of the Krause men nor of the murder of her husband's great-great grandfather that caused a rift between the Krauses and the entire town.

Had her
Stephanie Ward
'The Widows of Braxton County' is a captivating novel that follows the Krause family and the tragedies that have befallen them. The story is told in alternating time periods - parts are set in modern times while the others are set back in the 1800s. The book tells the heartbreaking stories of two women - Hannah and Kate - who marry into the Krause family without fully understanding what they're getting into. We get to see a glimpse of their daily lives on the family farm as well as the way that ...more
Carrie Ardoin

I had a hard time reading past the first third of this book...Kate is being abused by her new husband and doesn't really do too much about it. She blames herself for catching him in a bad mood, basically blames everything but her husband Joe. But I'm glad I did continue reading, because she finally decided to get out of her situation and that's when the book took a turn for the better.

The story is told in alternating chapters. First is the ale of Hannah Krause, who was the wife of the s
Caitlin M.
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full book review at:
Quick link to review:

Rating: 5/5 stars (I'd give the book 10/5 stars if possible!)

“The Widows of Braxton County” is one of my absolute favorite books I have come across in a very long time. Within the first few chapters, I was shaking my head with a smile, thinking how Ms. Damsgaard had outdone herself once again. What seemingly starts out as historical fiction meeting contemporary fiction, the book takes twists and tu
« previous 1 3 4 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Circle of Thirteen
  • Thanksgiving
  • Secretariat Reborn
  • The Fall of Saints
  • Deadly Diamonds (Knight and Devlin #4)
  • Pretty Is as Pretty Does (Class Reunion Series #1)
  • One Great Year
  • The Devil's Madonna
  • Grains of Truth (The Truth Be Told #1)
  • Yesterday's Echo (Rick Cahill, #1)
  • Where They Bury You
  • Grounded (May Hollow Trilogy, Book #1)
  • Paradise
  • The Book of the Crowman (Black Dawn #2)
  • Deviant
  • Domino Falls (Devil's Wake, #2)
  • A Beautiful Truth
  • The Trouble With Charlie (Elle Harrison Thriller, #1)
See similar books…