Title: The Widow Waltz
Author: Sally Koslow
Published: Viking June 2013
Status: Read from June 13 to 14, 2013 — I own a copy (Courtesy the author)
A light summer read, The Widow Waltz, Sally Koslow’s fourth novel, is an enjoyable novel about family, loss, independence and moving on.
When successful litigator Ben Silver suffers a fatal heart attack while training for the New York City Marathon, his wife of twenty something years, Georgia and their two daughters, are devastated but their grief turns to bewildered hurt when it is revealed that their expensive Upper East Side apartment and beach house in the Hamptons are mortgaged to the hilt, the girl’s trust funds have been drained and Georgia’s inherited property portfolio has been offloaded. While Georgia’s lawyer searches for the missing funds, Georgia, Nicola and Louise are forced to let go of their driver and housekeeper and are reduced to selling their possessions on E-bay while trying to figure out what else Ben was hiding and what to do next.
While there is nothing particularly original about the plot of The Widow Waltz, I thought it was a well crafted and evenly paced story. I appreciated Koslow’s dry sense of humour and natural dialogue. I also thought the characterisation was deft and for the most part, realistic.
I thought Georgia responded to the crisis she was faced with poise and practicality. Usually the protagonist in this sort of story drifts into hysterics and waits for someone to rescue her but Georgia, though distressed and angry, is proactive and determined to move on. There is a start of a new romance for Georgia but it doesn’t detract from Georgia’s own journey towards creating a new life for herself.
The sibling rivalry between Georgia’s daughters, Nicola and Louise is an interesting dynamic which adds to the story. While Louise is closer to the stereotype of a rebellious uptown princess, she describes Nicola, the elder of the two as “…the sort of woman Luey would never strike up a conversation with, even at a party; overly groomed, overly careful.” Both girls, in their early twenties, are forced to grow up after their father’s betrayal and take responsibility for creating their own futures.
The resolution reveals an unusual twist for Georgia which I quite liked, despite the scenario being somewhat implausible. It also neatly ties up loose ends and is a satisfying conclusion.
“I am…walking into the future, away from anger, from disappointment, and from regret. I refused to be sacred, or to believe that my future is a well of endless lament. I am galvanized by possibility. I am choosing happiness”