Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mother Daughter Widow Wife” as Want to Read:
Mother Daughter Widow Wife
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mother Daughter Widow Wife

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  820 ratings  ·  188 reviews
From the author of Girls on Fire comes a psychologically riveting novel centered around a woman with no memory, the scientists invested in studying her, and the daughter who longs to understand.

Who is Wendy Doe? The woman, found on a Peter Pan Bus to Philadelphia, has no money, no ID, and no memory of who she is, where she was going, or what she might have done. She’s assi
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published July 7th 2020 by Scribner
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 Mother Daughter Widow Wife, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mother Daughter Widow Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe Kitchen God's Wife by Amy TanThe Paris Wife by Paula McLainA Suitable Wife by Lorna PeelThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
504 books — 127 voters
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet MarillierRose Daughter by Robin McKinleyDaughter of Fortune by Isabel AllendeMufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John SteptoeWild Swans by Jung Chang
627 books — 54 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  820 ratings  ·  188 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mother Daughter Widow Wife
Will Byrnes
“You know how you change yourself into a different person?”
“This is gonna sound cheesy, but.” He blushed. “What they say in there, it’s true. You change by making one decision you wouldn’t have made before. You walk into the meeting. Even going to the meeting and leaving before it starts. It’s something. One decision at a time. You are what you choose, right? All you have to do is choose different.”


How much can something change before it becomes
Elyse  Walters
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Review to follow......
For starters .... I felt the title was more powerful than the book.
I was bored often.
Then.... I’d get more interested - invested ....
Then bored again .....
Had positives and negatives for me.
More later ...

I’m back:

I don’t think I fully understand this book...
I knew that a woman had disappeared....’presumably’ committed suicide...
I understood that Lizzie - a scientist- was hired by the Senior scientist, Dr. Benjamin Strauss - to to examine, scrutinize, and analyze a woman w
Nilufer Ozmekik
Is this smoke coming out of my frying brain cells? Sure, it is! I need an urgent transplant because my brain is not functioning properly. It worked too much to understand this book and I hear the alarm bells and whooshing sound in my ears!

Yes, it was too much to handle! This book terribly exhausted me and at some parts I failed to understand what the author meant. Maybe I’m not smart enough or I’m not in the great mood to focus but I’m lost!

There are so many parts are greatly written and I truly
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

MOTHER DAUGHTER WIDOW WIFE is an interesting book that gets more interesting as you read because it goes in several directions that you (probably) won't expect. The format is a bit tricky, because it's told in multiple timelines with multiple POVs. It took me a shamefully long time to figure that out going in so I'll detail a little about what's going on to make it easier for others.

Lizzie is an ambitious student working at a research in
Filled with complex emotions and topics but wordy and long

Wendy Doe is found in Philadelphia without an ID and no memory of who she is. She becomes a patient at Dr. Benjamin Strauss' Meadowlark Institute--basically her only alternative for being cast out on the streets. Dr. Strauss and his young student, Lizzie, study Wendy, fascinated by her fugue diagnosis. Meanwhile, years later, Wendy's daughter Alice is looking for her mother, who has disappeared again. Wondering if her mother's past disapp
Jessica Woodbury
3.5 stars.
If you were a fan of Wasserman's last book, GIRLS ON FIRE, I want to make sure you know right away that this is a much slower book. I could tell it would wrestle with some tough stuff, but given the juicy hook and her previous book I wasn't expecting the slow pace and I think I would've had a better experience if I'd known that.

The hook of this book is a woman in a fugue state, Wendy Doe, who is at the center of two other women's stories. Wendy has lost all her memories and has ended
Jennifer Blankfein
A woman has lost her memory and agrees to be studied by a doctor and his medical student. Multiple points of view and an unexpected discovery at the end kept the story moving along. Full review to come on Book Nation by Jen ...more
Natasha Niezgoda


I mean it. I witnessed boobs being described as crusty, festooning flesh and sexual experiences ending in “he burped into my unwaxed pubes.”


Yeah... ummm. Okay. But why? 🤨 Oh mind you, I clocked upwards of 40 of these bizarre mentionings.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, this book is supposed to be about a patient who has acute amnesia 🧠, she’s then studied by psychologists, she gets better, has a kid, then loses her m
Liz Barnsley
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having been a huge fan of Girls on Fire I was eager to dive into this.

It didn't capture me in quite the same way as Girls did, but the beauty of this author's writing has not diminished and this novel was a delight to read for pure quality.

The story itself is compelling, focused very much on memory as a concept and featuring three very different, engaging women tied together in various ways.

Enjoyed it very much looking forward to more from this author.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, arc
A woman, Wendy Doe, is found on a bus, penniless and disoriented, suffering from amnesia. She's taken to a psychological institute to be examined and studied. The doctor who "treats" her is Benjamin Strauss. His research assistant, Lizzie, also studies Wendy for her research project--we hear from her while she's working with Wendy, and we hear from her 20 years later. We also hear from Alice, Wendy's daughter, again 20 years later. Sounds confusing--and, at first, it is--but you get used to it.

ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook
2.5 Stars

This book was okay. The writing was beautiful BUT the book really gets bogged down by clinical discussions and descriptions. The writing was lovely and when I was actively reading about the characters and the plot I really enjoyed it but some of the technical aspects bored me to tears. Wasserman can certainly write and write well but this just wasn't my cup of tea. Maybe I am not as smart as I think I am.

Thank you NetGalley, Scribner and Robin Wasserman for the opportunity to read this
Jennifer Blankfein
Feb 15, 2021 rated it liked it
Mother Daughter Widow Wife is about women, identity and power. This is the story of Wendy Doe, a woman who is found on a bus in Pennsylvania with no ID or any idea of who she is or where she came from. She is thought to have a temporary amnesia and is sent to a medical research facility to be observed. She is studied by Dr. Benjamin Strauss, and his assistant, Lizzie. Dr. Strauss calls the shots with both his young assistant and his new patient. Lizzie looks up to him and believes investing in t ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wasserman explores memory and identity through three primary characters: a woman in a fugue state, her daughter, and a research fellow assigned to study her. Some plot threads were cliched, but there was enough going on that they didn’t overwhelm the more interesting and enjoyable parts of the story and analysis.
Mary Lins
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What if a talented literary writer wrote a Soap (aka Soap Opera) with many of the attending tropes and themes? Well, I think that is what Robin Wasserman has done successfully with her new novel, “Mother Daughter Widow Wife”! We have the Soap staples: an amnesiac, adultery, sex, obsession, complicated relationships, mystery, danger, and maybe not an evil twin – but close! Don’t let any of that put you off! This is a well-written psychological mystery well worth your time.

After a laboratory fail
Richelle Robinson
Some parts of the story I enjoyed. Some parts of the story I had no interest in at all. I found the main character Lizzie to be one dimensional throughout this whole story. The growth she had in this story didn’t feel authentic. I really liked Wendy and Alice character’s the best. The ending wasn’t excepted but that’s how life can be sometimes. This was my first time reading this author and it wasn’t a bad read but it didn’t blow me away either.
Oct 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, women
Think of a deck of cards that is organized by number and suit.... then shuffle this deck several times... and you have the organization of this book! If you expect more than that... you are going to be confused. I have no expectations but was still confused.... in fact a couple of times I had to check to make sure I had not jumped chapters or picked up the wrong book!

A woman's life is told before she forgot everything, and then about her life after she forgot everything. Then her daughter appea
Sharon May
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many thanks to NetGalley, Scribner, and Robin Wasserman for the opportunity to read and review this book. 4 stars for an intriguing book that will certainly activate all that gray matter in your brain! This is a somewhat complicated read, both with the massive amount of information given on memory as well as the way it is written. But stick with it - it's definitely worth it!

Mother, daughter, widow, wife - all various roles women play in our lives. But are those how we define ourselves or how ot
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coun-libstl
I am in the fence either a 3.5 or a 4. It lost me in some places, it took me longer then I care to admit to sort of figure who and what was going on. Great in some places, boring and confusing in others.
Janet Skeslien Charles
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From page one, this book grabbed me by the lapels and made me sit up straight. The novel is an exploration of memory. As I get older, I see how differently people remember things, and found the perfect explanation in this book: "We all forget things that happened and remembered things that did not." I read with a pen and underlined many gorgeous passages. I especially loved how two friends have such a different take on their relationship. A thought-provoking read. ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it liked it
The premise for this novel is stronger than the story, about a woman who loses her memory and becomes the object of study at a famed memory institute. There are many intertwining narratives: that of the woman who has lost her memory, both during her fugue state and after, the daughter who wants to learn more, and the lead researcher who falls in love with her married professor. The intertwining tales get a bit confusing at times and I found myself wanting to shake Lizzie, the lead researcher and ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you ever read a book that exhausts you to such a degree that you feel like you can't read another one for at least a week? And you're not quite sure whether that's a good thing or not? Such is how Robin Wasserman left me.

For one thing, I spent way too much time trying to figure out who the mother, daughter, widow, and wife were. Not because it isn't apparent, but rather because I kept thinking there had to be more to it than that. In fact, that sentiment perhaps best describes my feelings abo
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There's so much I could say about this book. Wasserman's Mother Daughter Widow Wife is a masterful, lyrical meditation on memory, bodies, identity -- of the ways we interact with our past and future selves, how we spend a lifetime in a body that is only brought truly alive by memory.

Elizabeth, a bright graduate student, accepts an exceptional opportunity to study alongside a famous scientist whose life quickly consumes hers. Together, they study Wendy Doe, a woman who is trapped in a fugue stat
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog:
"This body is not a temple, but it has been loved. You’d think someone would be looking for it."

In Mother Daughter Widow Wife, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Epstein leaves her studies on rats behind after a bit of screw-up and hatches a plan to work beneath “cognitive psychology’s latest golden god” in order to ‘relaunch her research’ under the reputation, resource and genius of Benjamin Strauss of Medowlark Institute. Of the four fellowship winners, only
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm so disappointed to report that this book, which I was so excited for because of my love for Robin Wasserman's novel GIRLS ON FIRE, just didn't connect with me. The 3 (sort of 4) main characters were all women who were seemingly too similar for me to keep the thread going, especially when the POVs would change chapter to chapter. The mystery, of a woman who loses her memory and ends up on a bus heading to CA from PA, is a great hook however, the book is much less straightforward than a thrill ...more
Oh man. At times this book was fascinating and too many times, just boring or perhaps more detailed and above my brain's abilities to understand. Somehow I thought the novel would be more about the woman herself who had lost her only indirectly was. Mostly it explored memory and the brain, and women's lives derailed by following their hearts instead of their brains.

Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for the ARC to read and review.
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2020
I loved so much of this novel - the exploration of memory and forgetting, of the roles women play as they traverse the path from wife to widow, daughter to mother, of the ways women, especially “broken” women are used by men.
There’s a lot of good stuff here, beautifully evocative writing, interesting characters ...but also about a 100 pages that I would have cut (specifically about the obsession about a man and how it destroys the woman’s career and her “she can’t stop loving him”).
I enjoyed t
Geonn Cannon
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it! It wasn't bad. Toward the end, I started having problems remembering names, but that might've just been me not paying close enough attention. Yet another books wrapping past and present narratives, god I'm sick of that... But overall, lots of interesting stuff about memories and whether we create them or they make us. ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
3 stars because Wasserman can write beautifully, but I wish she could have made me like the characters more. I did feel sympathy for Lizzie, but mostly frustration. She basically gave herself away to a bad man and was criminally untrue to herself.
Jodi Golis
I was really drawn in at the beginning. What a fascinating story! The middle dragged with a lot of science jargon (I’m a scientist and even I was bored!) and some boring stories. The story started to take flight again with about 75 pages to go. But overall, I would not recommend.
Jul 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t care for the way the book jumped around though I understand why it did. I found the characters and their stories to be less interesting than the thoughts on memory, what it means to be yourself, etc. I prefer to like my characters more. Still, it left me thinking and wondering.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Evvie Drake Starts Over
  • Queenie
  • Ninth House (Alex Stern #1)
  • Nothing to See Here
  • Love and Other Words
  • Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper, #1)
  • Sister Dear
  • The Vow
  • My Dark Vanessa
  • Oona Out of Order
  • The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)
  • The Evil Within
  • Writers & Lovers
  • Such a Fun Age
  • Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2)
  • The Witch Elm
  • This Terrible Beauty
  • The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)
See similar books…
Robin Wasserman is the author of the novels MOTHER DAUGHTER WIDOW WIFE (June 2020) and GIRLS ON FIRE. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and several short story anthologies. A recent MacDowell Colony fellow, she is also the New York Times bestselling author of more than ten novels for young adults and teaches in the low-residency MFA program ...more

Related Articles

If you're a fan of the mystery and thriller genre and young adult books, recent months have brought a bevy of great reads to your shelves! We...
140 likes · 21 comments
“Lizzie had once briefly toyed with the idea of studying developmental psychology—she’d never much liked children, but she did love the idea of them as natural-born physicists, the theory that babies began life as miniature Aristotelians and only by trial and error discovered Galilean inertia and Newtonian motion, every toddler a live-action Wile E. Coyote, running off the cliff and learning gravity on the way down. It occurred to her now to imagine a moral philosophy taking shape in the same way, baby Hobbeses and little Lockes bumping into sin and consequence.” 1 likes
“Sam grudgingly acknowledged the role of consciousness, but argued this, too, was based on unexamined assumptions, dependent on an unfounded faith in the collapse of quantum indeterminacy, and we debated the many minds theory, hidden variables, multiverses, and materialism until the coffee went cold and I’d managed to forget I was anything but pure consciousness myself.” 0 likes
More quotes…