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

The Widows: A Novel

(Kinship #1)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  88 reviews

The Widows kept me on the edge of my seat. Montgomery is a masterful storyteller.” —Lee Martin, author of Pulitzer Prize-Finalist The Bright Forever

Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.

Hours after his funeral, a

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Minotaur Books
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, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Widows

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Revenge keeps the pain of the wound seeping blood into the forever.

Lily Ross bends wearily as she sets thing right in the Rossville jail. Strapped with a derringer at her ankle, Lily eyes the prisoner in the cell facing her. The Appalachian foothills in 1925 in this small Ohio town provide a panoramic view of the Devil's Backbone and the coal mines that give dangerous employment to the men of the community. Lily's own father was killed in a mine blast in the Widowmaker due to a build-up of metha
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Life often demands doing contradictory things in exchange for survival". Life in the Appalachian mining town of Kinship, Ohio changed in the blink of an eye following a 1924 cave-in resulting from an undetectable buildup of methane gas ignited by lightning. John Rutherford, Marvena Whitcomb's common-law husband and Caleb McArthur, Lily Ross's father died trying to rescue trapped miners in the Widowmaker. Lily and Marvena would soon meet each other under less than ideal circumstances.

Lily Ross w
DJ Sakata
Favorite Quote:

Mama’s round face is so puckered with outrage that her mouth looks like the top of a drawstring purse.

My Review:

I am in awe of this author, this is her first novel and it was simply stellar! The storytelling was commanding, cunningly crafted, enthralling, emotive, highly descriptive, and smartly nuanced. I was instantly sucked into her vortex and heard a multitude of sounds, accents, and dialects in my head. I was right there with them, riding in their cars, feeling the dynamite b
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
The year is 1924, and Lilly Ross learns her husband, Kinship's sheriff was killed while transporting a prisoner. However, just after the funeral, a strange woman shows up not knowing that Daniel Ross is dead. Marvena Whitcomb has known Daniel for years, and now she's there to talk to him about her missing daughter. Her husband was a coal miner who died a while back. Both women have to deal with the loss of Daniel, and they join forces to find out the truth about his death.

Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
This Historical Fiction novel sets itself apart from others in this popular genre by focusing on the lives and points of view of two women in a small, coal mining town in Ohio during the 1920's. Coal mining, especially in the early 20th century, was a dangerous business and in this book, two women, with a complicated bond, find themselves in the middle of a controversy as some townspeople want to organize a union while others will do anything to stop it.

Inspired by true events, the story follows
Debby "Piene Raven"
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books for this read in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

This was a first time read for me by Jess Montgomery that was a well-written novel.
"The Widows" is set in 1920’s Ohio, in a small town that depends on its living from a mining company. Lily Ross is the Sheriff’s wife of Bronwyn County who serves as the jail mistress, and who enjoys working with her husband. Her husband’s connections with the
Heather Blake
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how I love this book. Two strong women, a gripping mystery, and so beautifully written that I can practically hear the hawk’s cry, taste the sorghum, and feel coal dust on my skin. The Widows has earned a spot on my keeper shelf, and may there be many, many more books in this series to come.
I'm torn between 3 and 3.5 stars.

The Widows is a character rich historical-fiction novel that takes place in small town, coal mining Ohio during the 1920's. The two main protagonists, Lily and Marvena, are both strong, independent, and powerful women, who are helping shape America's coal mining society during a time where the rich kept getting richer, while the poor was kept in the shadows. Kind of reminds me of America today...

While Lily represents Ohio as their first female sheriff, Marvena
It's taken me a little while to read Jess Montgomery's debut historical novel. It's a compelling story
based on two historical figures, and the author has brought them together in a riveting story of two strong women. And, it appears to be the first Sheriff Lily Ross historical mystery.

Lily Ross was content to be the jail mistress in Bronwyn County, Ohio. Her husband, Daniel, is sheriff in the community that's dependent on mining. But, Bronwyn County has faced its share of mining disasters. Ross
1920s Ohio and soon Lilly learns the fate of her husband. Sheriff Daniel Ross is killed while transporting a prisoner. Sadly, Lilly must face the fact that her husband had a secret past, linking his life with Minerva, a coal miners widow. After Minerva's teen daughter goes missing and fearing the worst, she seeks assistance from Daniel. These two women, strong, determined and persistent push forward with the hope of unveiling the truth behind their loses, threading their lives together as one. I ...more
I enjoyed immensely this story of two incredibly strong women, who dared to step outside the conventional roles usually open to women of their time. Lily is the sheriff of her county, and Marvena is a union leader, and spokesperson for the coal miners in their Appalachian area. The setting is southeastern Ohio in the 1920’s, and there would seem to be more that would cause conflict between these two than would draw them together. For one, they loved the same man, and for another they might be co ...more
Jessica Strawser
Pulling back the curtain on a time and place where women's roles were too often overlooked, The Widows is full of characters who surprise those who underestimate them. A rich, empowering and satisfying read.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog-tours
Thanks to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

I’ve said it many times before, but I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. Throw in a mystery and that’s a combination I’m sure to enjoy! THE WIDOWS by Jess Montgomery was an incredibly engrossing read – the descriptions and writing were so detailed without being bogged down. You actually feel like you’re there with these women and experiencing everything alongside them.

What’s better than a strong fema
Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine, especially when it takes me into the past and to aspects of history that I am not familiar with. In the case of The Widows, I was transported to the Appalachians and rural Ohio coal mines in 1925 where I learned about the attempts to unionize the mines and provide the workers with fair employment practices and safer working conditions, all why trying to solve a murder and a disappearance in a book with two strong female leads, based on real-life wo ...more
Paul Goat
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The debut novel from Montgomery (the pseudonymous Sharon Short)—a historical mystery that is based around the lives of two heroic women living in a 1920’s Appalachian mining town—is nothing short of a masterwork. A storytelling tour de force. Easily one of the most unforgettable novels I’ve read in recent years.

As a book critic for the last 22 years, it’s my job to spot flaws—and this novel was virtually flawless.

The stories of Lily Ross, the widow of a murdered sheriff who takes on his job to
Victoria Colotta
My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A emotional and compelling story steeped in the history of the 1920s and centering on two fiercely tenacious women.

THE WIDOWS is the third book I have read this year and if it is setting the tone for what is to come, we are all in for some amazing books. Montgomery brings to life this mining town through effortless storytelling, lyrical writing, and strong, passionate female characters.

For me, the heart of this story lies with Lily and Marvena. From the first mome
Cathy Geha
The Widows by Jess Montgomery
Kinship #1

Lapsang Souchong – not Jasmine Tea – One thought I had while reading this book. Now, my mother loved a smokey tea and...others no doubt love it too...not my favorite flavor but I do have to say this book grew on me as I continued to read. That thought happened at the beginning of the book and as I read I kept thinking that neither of the main characters were people I could really relate to and I wondered why. It wasn’t the era of the early 1900’s or the loc
This is a historical novel that feels like a Western. It's set in rural, Appalachian Ohio in the 1920, but it feels older and more Western than that, as this neck of the woods was a bit behind the times. And like you sometimes get in those old Westerns, this is a story of the gumption of two strong women, both lightly based on real historical women.

The first one, Lily, is married to the town sheriff, and she runs the jail, which is in the back of their house (think: The Andy Griffith Show.) Unti
Suz Jay
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
“…So many believe women are too sensitive for life’s brutal truths. That’s only, Lily thinks, because they’ve not experienced the brutal truths life gives particularly and uniquely to women.”*

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

In 1925, two strong women live in an Ohio mining town. The man who loves them both is killed and together they sort the facts from the fiction about his death and his relationships with them both. With Lily’
Sheri Melnick
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
by sherimelnick
Montgomery’s writing takes center stage with her lyrical storytelling as she introduces readers to Lily Ross, who becomes a sheriff in 1920’s Ohio after her husband, Bronwyn County Sheriff Daniel Ross, is murdered in the line of duty.

Though Lily exudes a fragile beauty, she is resilient and intelligent, and is determined to find out who is responsible for her husband’s murder. She works tirelessly to prove that she is capable of assuming the duties of sheriff and mother to her you
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy books that are inspired by actual events and The Widows by Jess Montgomery is no exception. The character Lily Ross is based on Ohio’s first female sheriff. Lily has just buried her husband Daniel when she meets Marvena, a poor coal miner’s daughter who may have been Daniel’s first love. Lily is appointed the town’s sheriff and Marvena is secretly trying to unionize the mine labor. These are two very strong-willed women with different goals that lead them to each other for support ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
"The Widows" is a powerful, evocative historical fiction debut that is also a fine mystery.

With luminous prose, descriptive prowess and authentic dialog that give you a wonderful sense of time and place, it tells the tale of two women coming together to find the truth behind the death of a man they both loved.

1925 - coal mining country, southwestern Ohio:
"I, Lily Ross, do solemnly swear that I will support, uphold, and defend the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State o
In the end, I really enjoyed this book. I only gave it 3 stars, however, because it was very difficult to follow at the beginning. Too many random characters were thrown at the reader with no indication which ones were more important to the overall story. I realize Ms. Montgomery wanted to start off with a bang, but maybe a bit more preamble would have made it less confusing. By the end of the book, everyone was memorable, it just took some time to get there. And, I am not too sure exactly how I ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a captivating historical fiction story set in the 1920s about the lives of coals miners and their efforts in organizing unions. It centered on two strong dedicated women who fought for justice and truth. Lily became Ohio’s first woman sheriff after her husband Daniel was murdered in the line of duty. Marvena, who lost her common law husband due to unsafe mining conditions, took over his fight and became the voice for unionization.
This was a fascinating read that will capture your inter
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The setting kept on reminding me of the wild west even though this takes place in 1920s Ohio. The coal owner and the mafia owning the law helps the feel of lawlessness in the book. Lily has to deal with her husband being killed and not believing the story of his death. Helpfully, she becomes the temporary sheriff so she has some authority to find out that happened. The other perspective is Marvena who is tied strongly with the miners and is demanding their rights.

Both characters are strong and
Jan 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical novel is set in rural Ohio in the early days of the twentieth century, and focuses on two women in a coal mining community. The women come from different sides of the labor disputes, but they have more in common than they think. Lily Ross is the wife of the town sheriiff, a man who is related to the family who controls the mining interests in the town. The book essentially opens with her learning of her husband' Daniel's murder. Shortly thereafter, she is visited by Marvena Whitc ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This rich, atmospheric tale is a sad, but powerful tale about a female sheriff taking on the powers that be in her oppressive Appalachian town while trying to solve the murder of her husband. The setting is intriguing, the characters complex, and the prose solid. I enjoyed this debut and look forward to more from this talented author.
Susan Lindemulder
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great debut novel by Jess Montgomery! I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more books by her.
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked The Widows. I would love to read more by Jess Montgomery in the future. I give this one four and a half stars.
Fredrick Marion
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Widows is a beautiful mystery set in Appalachia during a time when industry trumped basic human rights. It's a mirror, in some ways, of what we're going through today -- when a whole seam of America is conveniently swept aside. In that seam are love stories, tragedies, redemption.

Three lives grow together in the book like the three different trunks of the "Kinship tree." This book belongs to Lily. She's the sheriff, Daniel's bereaved, a woman who's hellbent on learning who killed her husband
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
JESS MONTGOMERY is the author of the Kinship Historical Mystery series, focusing on a 1920s female sheriff in Appalachia. You can find out more about her books at her website,, or reach her on Facebook @JessMontgomeryAuthor, Twitter @JessM_Author and Instagram @JessMontgomeryAuthor.

Under Jess's given name, she is a newspaper columnist, focusing on the literary life, au
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Mama,” Lily says. “This is more than I can bear.” She longs to weep, but her tears remain stubbornly locked in her heart. Mama kisses the top of Lily’s head, keeps rocking her, says, “No, child. This is just more than you should have to bear.” 0 likes
“Life is hard. Have tea.” 0 likes
More quotes…