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The Widows

(Kinship #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  128 reviews
Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.

From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be—and that his murder is far more complex t
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Minotaur Books
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  308 ratings  ·  128 reviews

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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
"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
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley, series
3.75 stars rounded up to 4
Thanks to Netgalley and St.Martins Press for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Described as a historical mystery, The Widows is the beginning of a new series called "Kinship" set in the 1920's and featuring two captivating women - Lily Ross, who becomes sheriff of her Ohio town after the death of her husband; and Marvena Whitcomb, a miner's widow who is an active member in the union movement. Lily is bent on bringing vengenacnce down on her husband's killer.
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
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.

A story of two courageous, hard-working, and thoroughly admirable women, this story is set in an Appalachian mining community where a mine called "The Widowmaker" has proven its name on three separate occasions...

"The sisterhood of widows. Such a sorrowful sisterhood Lily has joined."

Lily Ross - Wife of the Sheriff, Daniel Ross, pregnant and with two young children, she is widowed at the tender age of twenty-six. Approached by the deputy and offered the position of temporary sheriff, Lily accept
3.5 stars. Our story begins September of 1924 in the fictitious Bronwyn County of Ohio. Jess Montgomery writes in her author’s note that Bronwyn is meant to represent “western Athens, eastern Vinton, and southern Hocking and Perry counties” of Ohio. The Appalachian region is ever of interest to me; its histories and varied, distinct, and fascinating characters strike a chord. Born and raised in my own briar patch of western North Carolina, I sometimes take for granted my heritage, sometimes ugly ...more
Heather Blake
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
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"
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
The Widows is set in the 1920s and binds two widows together after the death of the husband of one and the best friend of the other. The second woman has already lost her husband as well. The pair is solving the mystery of Daniel's death. The backdrop includes mining and unionization. Beautifully written with wonderful characters and a great plot. 5/5 stars.
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
Rebecca Rosenberg
A gut-wrenching novel about the mining industry in this country. Jess's description and characters will draw you in and keep you with them to the end of this moving novel. I was reading THE WIDOWS simultaneously with EDUCATED, and had trouble keeping them separate! Fabulous novel about an important aspect of our American history that is so meaningful still today.
Jessica Strawser
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Suz Jay
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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’
Paul Goat
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
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

"The hawk is a sign to be alert, to consider carefully one’s situation."
Widows Lily Ross and Marvena Whitcom will need to be hawk like for all that they will endure. 1924 Kinship, Ohio. Two widows joined by their relationship to the town's sheriff Daniel Ross. One is Daniel's widow Lily Ross, the other is Marvena Whitcom, a coal miner's widow and long a friend of Daniel.
Shockingly for the small community, Daniel is killed whilst transporting a prisoner.
Lily is asked to take on the role
Sheri Melnick
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from the author. I found this story featuring two female protagonists to be compelling -- I enjoyed seeing them change and mature. They're both in love with the same man and when he is murdered very early in the story, they form a wary kinship: in fact, this novel is the first in Montgomery's Kinship Mysteries.

I especially liked time in history -- unionization of coal mines in the 1920s (Prohibition) to be quite fascinating and appreciated the nuances the author added, educati
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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
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“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
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