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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The War Widow by Lorna Gray - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

It's 1947 and Kate is a single woman who divorced her husband shortly after the war. Kate is still recovering from a terrible incident that makes her feel scared and unsafe. She's being chased and because nobody seems to believe her, she decides to find some answers herself. She's staying at a hotel in Aberystwyth, near the place where her ex-husband recently committed suicide. Her arrogant and self centered ex-husband used to be a successful photographer and he didn't come across as unhappy at all. Why did he throw himself off a cliff?

While Kate is being seen as someone who has a problem with her nerves she doesn't get the protection she needs and she's constantly on the run. Someone wants something from her that she isn't able to give. She can't trust anyone. When she's staying at the hotel she meets a charismatic author, Adam, who seems to be concerned about her wellbeing, but as she has no idea who's after her Kate can't allow herself to let her guard down when she's with him. What should she do and how can she make the miserable situation she finds herself in stop, without becoming a victim?

The War Widow is a fantastic gripping story. Kate is a talented and smart woman. She's also confused, afraid and completely alone. That makes her story interesting from the start. I was curious to find out who's after her and couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to discover the truth. I loved how Lorna Gray slowly reveals the identities of the main players in her fabulous intricate plot and was captivated by her story from beginning to end. I was especially anxious to read more about Adam because of his riveting personality and profession. The marvellous main characters are all equally alluring, which made The War Widow a joy to read for me.

Lorna Gray combines an intriguing setting with a fascinating chaotic thrilling adventure and true love. I loved the natural and compelling way she does this. Her descriptions are filled with suspense. The War Widow kept surprising me and I enjoyed every single one of the many unexpected events that lead to a fabulous sensational finale. I really loved The War Widow and highly recommend this terrific story.


If you love a combination of historical fiction with a gripping mystery and wonderful romance The War Widow is an absolute must-read.

About Lorna Gray

I have a strong relationship with the past just like Eleanor, the heroine of debut novel In the Shadow of Winter. My inspiration to write about 1940s Britain comes from the traces that still live around us today. It comes from the tales that my elderly neighbours tell, and from the details and contradictions that have been recorded from a time we know so much about and yet no two people ever describe it in quite the same way.

This is what first inspired me to write In the Shadow of Winter and to set the intensely emotional adventure that unfolds within it, with all of its danger, romance and mystery, in the winter of 1947.

My exploration of the post-war period is continuing with The War Widow, with further releases planned for the coming months. I am published by Harper Impulse. I'm married and I live in the Cotswolds, UK.


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1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today. I keep goats and ponies, and love exploring castles and old country houses with my husband. And I really love writing post-WWII mysteries ...

2) You have a strong relationship with the past, have you always had this and how do you translate it into stories?

I have always been fascinated by history. I always find myself trying to empathise with the people who once lived in a place, be it one hundred years ago or a thousand. Now that I’ve fixed upon writing about a very specific point in history, the period just after the war, I’m very lucky that a lot of people can remember what it was like back then. And when I ask people for their memories, everyone has such a unique point of view. I think it is wonderful how the inspiration for each of my heroines has come from something someone has told me.

3) The War Widow is a gripping saga, what do you like the most about writing this genre?

Gripping? How lovely, thank you! But yes, this genre feels like the perfect balance for me between exploring the heroine Kate Ward’s emotional struggle to shake off her past, and a vintage mystery thoroughly grounded in 1940s Britain.

4) Your story is set just after WWII, what inspired you to write about this period?

The year is 1947 and Kate is facing the challenge of asserting who she thinks she is, set against the way other people perceive her. She is being haunted by a criminal’s last steps. Kate is also a divorcee and it is fascinating how modern the period is, in that Kate can make the choice to leave her husband, and yet she can still be awfully judged for it.

5) Can you describe the main characters of The War Widow in seven words each?

Kate: Determined, faithful, brave, afraid and profoundly underestimated

Adam: Shy, determined, steadfast and I love him

Rhys: selfish, confident, single-minded, driven and roguish

*Sorry, none of those are seven words. Creative licence, you know?

6) How do you handle the research for your stories and how do you capture the right atmosphere of the timeframe you’re writing about?

A lot of my inspiration comes from speaking to people who remember the time. Then I settle on the specific run of days for the story and begin researching from there. Both this novel and my debut In the Shadow of Winter unfold over a particular set of dates. In The War Widow, Kate’s life begins to unravel over the weekend of the original Royal Wedding - the one between Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten - and it was such an evocative time to write about.

7) How did your passion for historical fiction start?

In terms of reading historical fiction, I blame my mother. When I first stepped up as a child into reading grown-up books, it was her bookshelf I raided. The obsession stuck.

8) If you could travel back in time for a day, which area and period would you visit and why?

I’m fascinated by all sorts of points in history but sensibly, I think it would have to be the period after the war. Antibiotics were gradually coming into use so I probably wouldn’t immediately pop my clogs from some hideous disease we’ve barely heard of these days, and I could visit the Stockport area (near Manchester) where my family are from. It would feel like going home.

9) You write about strong women, what’s the inspiration behind these capable heroines?

My background is archaeology which means I’ve studied human activity through the ages. And the thing I’ve noticed most of all is that when it comes to the fundamentals of human nature, such as care and sheer grit and determination, nothing has changed at all. And it’s a good thing. All those choices women made long ago ultimately echo in the women I know today. I find the whole path from then to now wonderfully inspiring.

10) What are your plans for the future?

I’ve got a third book coming out later this year and I’m currently writing my fourth novel which is set in Christmastime. It’s going to be a busy few months!


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The War Widow by Lorna Gray.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. The War Widow sounds like a fantastic, gripping memorable story with rounded, complex characters, a strong romance and thrilling twists.

  2. I love history too!! What an interesting combination of historical romance and mystery and thriller - I'm intrigued! This poor girl sounds like she really needs a sweet man after the horror she's been through!

  3. Would love to win this book for my Mum who reads a lot.

  4. I like the story and the review. I'd love to know what happens in the story!

  5. I really liked the review and interview. All the elements(history, feminism, mystery and romance) are rightly set in the book. I really loved the sweetness and politeness of author.❤

  6. wow, this looks like a fab book from an author I've yet to discover!

  7. This sounds like a wonderful novel of a compelling story with many twists and turns, marvellous.

  8. Sounds really gripping. I simply love vintage mystery! Wish a great success with your books.

  9. I love your books Lorna, and I would treasure a signed copy!

  10. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the chance x

  11. Love reading about a woman's perspective during the wars and the aftermath.

  12. Kate sounds like such a fascinating character, and strong even in times of hardship or moments of weakness. I'd love to read, and travel along with her, during her journey!

  13. Love a good mystery, quite intriguing.

  14. Lorna, you book sounds fabulous! I love reading about this era!

  15. This sounds fabulous! I'm already invested in Kate's plight just from reading your review.

  16. Lately I've been intrigued by stories set before, during, & after WWII.

  17. TBR. Historical fiction is my favourite genre and I have a special interest in WW2 and postwar period.

  18. I love books about strong women, sure to be a good read.

  19. Sounds a great mix of a strong female lead character and a good mystery.

  20. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  21. I found it really interesting how Lorna does her research. I have some black & white photos of the street parties that my Mum & Dad went to at the time of THE Royal Wedding!