Former ABC News reporter Carole Radziwill's first novel centers on thirty-two-year-old writer Claire Byrne, suddenly widowed when a bronze sculpture falls out a window, onto her husband of ten years, renowned sexologist Charlie Byrne.
The Widow's Guide to Sex & Dating (February 11) is not my usual crime fiction beat, but the title intrigued me enough to request a review copy from Henry Holt. I wanted a light, bawdy, Valentine's read, and the book is one in some respects. However, Claire doesn't take her philandering husband's death as a chance to go bed-hopping.
Nevertheless, she does have to move on, to rebuild her identity without Charlie. As a writer, I was moved by Claire's epiphany, in which she crystalizes her friends and her relationship with Charlie in terms of punctuation. Radziwill lends Claire her own experience losing husband Anthony, while her choice of storytelling voice—witty and impartial—keeps things from getting overly dark.