Mick Jackson - The Widow’s Tale (3 stars)

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Mick Jackson - The Widow’s Tale

(Faber)

Your enjoyment or otherwise of Mick Jackson’s third full-length novel will rely heavily on your fondness for his narrator. Our unnamed first-person has recently found herself widowed, and on a grief-laden whim rushes off to a Norfolk cottage where she muses on her future and mourns her past. But it’s not necessarily her life partner she pines for, but the disappearance of many unfulfilled years with a husband she seemed to love a little less as each year dragged by.

As she unveils little details of her semi-happy marriage, kookily putting her woes into the context of Cary Grant screwball movies and sombre Hans Holbein portraits, the scorn begins to drip as she reveals herself to be nothing less than a reconstructed Victoria Meldrew. And amusing as some of those bitter observations are, the mood becomes relentless and sympathy ultimately drains as her final meltdown looms.

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