A Family of Widows

Old lady in a swing

Shaving your legs for the first time is a rite of passage for most girls, but it could kill 12-year-old Sophie Flaherty. Or so it seems to her mother, Deirdre, who sees the bloody nicks on her daughter’s legs, hears the words “Daddy’s razor,” and fears that the disease taking her husband’s life—the disease they don’t talk about—will destroy Sophie as well. In a time in which funeral homes refuse to embalm AIDS victims, Deirdre and Edward’s decision to claim that he’s dying from cancer, not AIDS, is an act of love. But that doesn’t mean it won’t haunt them, and Sophie, for the rest of their lives.

A Family of Widows is an upmarket fiction novel that traces the impact of this lie both on its tellers and on Sophie, whose adult life retracts into a series of compulsions meant to protect her from being the next widow. Interwoven with the story of Edward’s own father’s suspicious death, and his mother Lynette’s role in it, the novel follows the Flaherty family’s struggle for redemption despite generations of refusing to recognize the pain their intolerances, self-dramatizing imaginations, and obsession with appearances have on each other. A Family of Widows is told from different perspectives, spans six plus decades, and demonstrates the devastating impact that our actions, and sometimes more importantly, our inactions, can have on others.