The Widow’s Weeds
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One evening, Viola goes missing.
Only Maisie cares. Recently, their shared love of gardening has almost blunted Viola’s barbs, and Maisie is much in need of a close friend. Her house is a building site, her daughter’s wedding is looming ... and then there is Oliver. What does he want from her?
As Maisie grapples with her present-day preoccupations, Viola’s tale unfolds: a dark landscape of tragedy and suffering. Their two stories collide in an explosive finale. Can the two women rescue each other?
This third book in the Widows series stands alone. A story of weeds and wildflowers, tenacity and tenderness, and containing potentially upsetting details of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and bereavement, this is ultimately an affirmation of the power of women’s friendships.
The public gardens, like the promenade, were deserted. Viola lamented the bruised, battered annuals that hung limply from hanging baskets, the tousled perennials that lay defeated over the ornamental borders. A council employee toured the paths collecting litter or attempting to stake the broken stems of delphinium and hollyhock. One day he caught Viola collecting seeds from a particularly attractive pale pink aquilegia.
She leapt back onto the path guiltily. ‘I don’t even know why I want these,’ she said breathlessly. ‘I haven’t a garden now.’
‘They’ll do alright in a pot,’ he said. ‘I can probably find you one or two, if you like.’
He took her along the neatly edged paths to where a small wrought iron gate in a beech hedge gave access to a utilitarian area of compost heaps and tool sheds used by the park-keepers. He disappeared into one of the sheds for a few moments while Viola looked around and inhaled the familiar, evocative scents of fermenting grass cuttings and leaf mould. She found they conjured such a powerful wave of nostalgia that tears sprang into her eyes and she had to rummage in her coat pocket for a tissue. Just inside the door of the shed she saw a neat arrangement of spades and forks, hoes, rakes and a set of long-armed loppers. Her hands itched to take hold of them. In a moment of utter madness she considered grabbing one of the tools and making off with it. She had a sudden, vivid image in her mind’s eye of her garden: the terraces rank with weeds, the plants choked and dying, the vegetables in the raised beds all gone to seed and wasted. Gripped by a sense of urgency, almost of panic, she turned and hurried away through the gate and along the path to the exit before the man emerged from the shed.