Widow: A Four-Letter Word

Judy Crowell

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 246 Price: (paperback) $19.95 ISBN: 9781491782408 Reviewed: April, 2016 Author Website: Visit »

When a box of photographs takes author Judy Crowell down memory lane, she reflects on love shared with men in her life. Crowell credits these relationships, sweetly and humorously described in this memoir, with teaching her what she knows today: that “love doesn’t end when endings come.”

Crowell depicts colorful characters who left significant impressions on her heart: Grandfather Babu and his fleet of Packards; mischievous brothers “FitzandKit”; lifelong friend Brendan, who struggles with his sexuality; godfather Uncle Bob, who takes her dancing; and a blur of eligible teenagers. She finds spiritual anchors in Fathers Ted and Frederick, as well as in sons-in-law, grandsons and new wooers.

Coming of age in the late ’50s, Crowell’s Midwestern pedigree, beauty and Vassar degree are advantages for landing Mr. Right. Her dashing husband Bill’s New York commuter career blossoms into a comfortable suburban life, but Crowell paints a portrait of isolation focused on her husband’s moods, whims and needs, as well as on his “scotch-swilling buddies” and their “borderline Stepford wives.” Her life is challenged further by their son’s suicide and Bill’s diagnosis of terminal cancer.

Crowell reconnects deeply with Bill as his life concludes, and her ability to move on afterward is tested. Wondering how she’ll “ever get used to a widow’s silence,” Crowell sees God’s plan at work as suitors eventually teach her to love again and she rejects the stereotype of the unloved, sad, or lonely widow.

While the absence of female connections looms large throughout this memoir, Crowell identifies powerful, intimate connections with “these mismatched men.” Her smart, poignant narrative is skillfully divided between her re-entry into the dating world and her clear-eyed look back. A keen observer of love and life, Crowell has delivered an optimistic memoir. Her touching prose will inspire any woman who has lost a loved one and seeks to love again.

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