"[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. János wants to keep them. And Dorján walks the line between the two. The decision to conceal their discovery turns disastrous when János disappears.
Dorján 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 János 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.
"...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 János'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."
"...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..."
"...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."
"[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..."
"There's nothing to kick-start a narrative like the image of buried treasure."
"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."
"The more demanding narrative allows Lundrigan to once again showcase her exquisite prose."
"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."
"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."