Her Widow is a straight-forward look into a shared life at its most vulnerable and victorious moments. The title reveals the couple is two women, an art director for Harper Collins for years and professional photographer and her partner, a novelist and painter.
Told through letters written by the novelist to her deceased partner in unfettered prose that reads like poetry, Alden covers a year in time while revealing many years of their shared life. Her letters ask and answer the universal questions of love and loss with a sharpness that in spite of its subject is hopeful.
Twelve black and white photographic prints by Catherine J. Hopkins introduce the month/chapters of the book.
Her Widow, uncommon in its openness, invites the reader to hear what is spoken, see what is done, and feel what is in the hearts of those who are losing and then lose a great love and face the hours, weeks, and months that follow.
The heartfelt Journal spans the year following a partner’s death from ovarian cancer. Alden wrote this in memory of her partner—photographer and graphic designer Catherine Hopkins (1940-1996). Month by Month, these letters to the late Catherine—illuminate the first year of sometimes–desperate grief. The journal artfully sets the enormity of loss in the context of everyday activities. Short, poetic notes on the weather provide a sense of inevitable forward motion. Catherine’s black-and-white photographs also illustrate the seasons’ passage. Tender, realistic snapshots of life during bereavement.
A pioneering work dealing with one of the more obscured aspects of a healthy and loving lesbian relationship, in the pages of “Her Widow”, author Joan Alden provides an informative, engaging, and impressively candid ‘window’ into a shared life of an art director for HarperCollins for years and professional photographer and her partner, a novelist and painter. Here portrayed in a simply riveting read from first page to last is an aspect of contemporary life when at its most vulnerable episodes and inspiringly victorious occasions. Exceptionally well written and certain to be an enduringly appreciated addition to both community and academic library collections.
Midwest Book Review
Joan Alden’s lyrical, intensely moving account of a singular year in her life belongs on every bookshelf. Her journey toward discovery of the enduring power of love is a path all of us have either followed or will one day follow.
Katherine V. Forrest
Author of Curious Wine and the Kate Delafield mystery series.
Joan Alden’s voice is a rare gift in storytelling. Do not miss HER WIDOW’s fresh and transparent, unself-conscious yet richly layered story of the author’s deepest, best romance; her only marriage; and, yes, her most grievous loss that can be understood, even accepted, as truly as art can show.
Linda Whitney Hobson
Writer, editor, and former Exec. Director of North Carolina Writers’ Network