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Fiction Literary

Widow Tree

by (author) Nicole Lundrigan

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Sep 2013
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price

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"[Lundrigan's] writing is so enthralling, and the story so full of suspense and interest, that there is a temptation to allow the pages to fly by when they really should be savoured." -- Quill & Quire on Glass Boys, starred review

In the fall of 1953, three teenagers find a clutch of long-lost Roman coins while clearing vegetables from a government field, and they argue over what to do with this newfound wealth. Nevena insists they should be turned over as they rightfully belong to the country. J�nos wants to keep them. And Dorj�n walks the line between the two. The decision to conceal their discovery turns disastrous when J�nos disappears.

Dorj�n and Nevena are left to question everything they believed to be true, while the mother of the missing boy, a widow named Gitta, slowly unravels. Has J�nos used the money to escape the home that stifles him? Or has something much more sinister taken place?

The Widow Tree is a compelling, richly layered story of fatal plans and silent betrayals in a tightly knit village, where the postwar air is simultaneously flush with hope and weighted with suspicion. Amidst an intricate web of cultural tensions, government control, family bonds, and past mistakes, the truth behind many closely guarded secrets is revealed -- with life-altering consequences.

About the author

Nicole grew up in Upper Gul­lies, New­found­land, with her five sib­lings and par­ents, John and Nancy Lun­dri­gan. She attended Queen Eliz­a­beth Regional High School in nearby Fox­trap. Dur­ing her final year at QERHS, she enjoyed a semes­ter of school in Amiens, France where she lived with a Baron and Baroness in the Chateau de Prouzel.

After high school, Nicole moved to Fred­er­ic­ton, and earned a BSc from the Uni­ver­sity of New Brunswick. The sum­mer after grad­u­a­tion, she resided in the small com­mu­nity of Morawhanna, Guyana, where she helped to rebuild a school­house, vol­un­teered with a doc­tor bring­ing health­care to remote vil­lages, and assisted in a sea tur­tle con­ser­va­tion pro­gram on Shell Beach. Upon return­ing to Canada, Nicole attended Saint Mary’s Uni­ver­sity (Hal­i­fax) and received a BA (hon­ours) in anthro­pol­ogy. Dur­ing her time in Hal­i­fax, she worked on an archae­o­log­i­cal dig which involved the removal and analy­sis of skele­tal remains beneath the Lit­tle Dutch Church. In 1996, she moved to Ontario, and com­pleted an MSc from the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto with a focus on phys­i­cal anthro­pol­ogy. Her main area of inter­est was under­stand­ing the con­di­tions affect­ing the degra­da­tion of DNA in post­mortem skele­tal remains.

Shortly after grad­u­a­tion, she began free­lance writ­ing and her work has appeared in a vari­ety of pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing Reader’s Digest, Moth­er­ing: The Nat­ural Fam­ily Liv­ing Mag­a­zine, Law and Order: Police Man­age­ment, and the Hal­i­fax Daily Her­ald. She is the author of four nov­els: Unrav­el­ing Arva, Thaw, The Seary Line, and Glass Boys. Her lit­er­ary fic­tion has been selected as a top ten pick by Canada’s national news­pa­per the Globe and Mail, was long-listed for the Relit Award, and given hon­ourable men­tion for the Sun­burst Award.

She resides in Ontario with her hus­band and three children.


Nicole Lundrigan's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"There's nothing to kick-start a narrative like the image of buried treasure."

National Post

"Fabulous Fifth Novel...The Widow Tree is a richly rendered literary mystery with well-wrought characters...As always with Nicole's work, this is an emotionally intense study of strained relationships, but this time she's embedded the mysteries of the human heart in a solid mystery of a story. One that's about 'fatal plans and silent betrayals.' It’s a fabulous fifth novel by a Canadian author more people ought to be reading."

Salty Ink

"The more demanding narrative allows Lundrigan to once again showcase her exquisite prose."

Telegraph Journal

"...Lundrigan's sketch of a small Balkan village in the years following WWII is a sympathetic but unflinching examination of the troubled heritage of that region...Horrifying but fascinating, the story is enthralling."

Publisher's Weekly

"In The Widow Tree, Lundrigan tackles the terrain of 1950s Yugoslavia with such a graceful confidence and intimate knowledge of her subject, you will be transported. Deftly threading its metaphors like a suture on the body politic of this former nation, this is one of the most surprising and important works of literary fiction this year."

The Coast

"READ THIS -- Nicole Lundrigan's fifth novel, The Widow Tree, is a dense book -- the prose thickly woven with metaphor, immensely detailed and often poetic -- that escapes being a 'heavy book' thanks to a storyline that wouldn't be out of place on The Young and the Restless. This time around, Lundrigan, a Newfie-Lit darling, convincingly animates a 1950s Yugoslavian village, populating it with a cast of characters who know their way around intrigue, both political and personal: a father mysteriously killed, a discovered horde of Roman coins, and love triangles past and present. It's slow to start, but Lundrigan ultimately rewards the persevering with an absorbing, beautiful read."

Elle Magazine

"...a carefully crafted story that layers suspense and succeeds in rendering each betrayal, small or large, as a painful shock...As a writer, Lundrigan is sleek and spare with the gift of rendering small details in vivid strokes that leave them lingering long after we have turned the page..."

Toronto Star

"...strongly plotted novel...Lundrigan adroitly develops suspense about the young man’s fate, marvellously blending in details of the teens’ families and paying particular attention to an erstwhile romance between the Komandant and J�nos's mother, Gitta. The author cleverly deploys red herrings and information about multiple betrayals...Lundrigan is adept at using detail to convey meaning. In particular, the rich specificity of the novel's descriptions of food demonstrates the economic disparity among the three friends...The Widow Tree deftly dramatizes the ways family tragedies play out against the larger backdrop of national and ethnic interests."

Quill and Quire

"[Nicole Lundrigan] once again executes the idea to perfection here, peeling back the layers to slowly reveal to the reader the complete picture of a tragic, unavoidable history fraught with heartbreak, loss, grief, and guilt. Where Lundrigan succeeds, where she's always succeeded in fact, is in her ability to craft rich, absorbing, affecting characters so vivid that they appear to live and breathe in a time and space all of their own...Harrowing, yet also life affirming..."

Typographical Era

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