Customer Reviews for

A Widow for One Year

Average Rating 4
( 115 )
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5 Star

(53)

4 Star

(30)

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(14)

2 Star

(12)

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(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Irving's finest novel to date.

'A Widow for One Year' is arguably John Irving's best novel, and if not that, at least a shining example of a writer at the peak of his powers. Make no mistake, however: John Irving is a 19th-century storyteller. He is concerned with character development through th...
'A Widow for One Year' is arguably John Irving's best novel, and if not that, at least a shining example of a writer at the peak of his powers. Make no mistake, however: John Irving is a 19th-century storyteller. He is concerned with character development through the passage of time, so there is no discernable plot to speak of. Others complain about a disjointedness to the novel, yet that is the primary characteristic of the bildungsroman. Ruth Cole is Irving's strongest and most frustrating character she is never entirely likable, nor are her family and friends exactly 'normal.' A bit of suspension of disbelief might be necessary for some readers, but that's part in parcel with the novel's brilliance whether we acknowledge it or not, life is full of tragedy and coincidence. A cynic's view is to dismiss such contrivances as hokey, yet the true storyteller delights not in hokum but in the patent absurdity of human existence. Our individual navigation through the ridiculous happenstances which people our lives to Irving clearly our most valuable characteristics. Irving paints in broad strokes, casting his characters' lives over sixty years. They never end up as we expect, and yet the novel's most touching moments are its conclusion, which takes place exactly as we would expect. 'A Widow for One Year' is a broad, ribald, erotic, and sublime work of art by one of our country's greatest living writers.

posted by Anonymous on August 17, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

An Enjoyable Read

This is the fourth Irving novel I have read; like his other novels, the reader truly gets to know the characters throughout their lives. At times, I could not put the book down; I enjoy Irving's dry, dark sense of humor.I also love that the book takes place in Sagoponac...
This is the fourth Irving novel I have read; like his other novels, the reader truly gets to know the characters throughout their lives. At times, I could not put the book down; I enjoy Irving's dry, dark sense of humor.I also love that the book takes place in Sagoponack, Long Island- the reader gets a glimpse into NY high society. If you haven't read 'The Hotel New Hampshire' yet, check out this book before 'A Widow for one Year.'

posted by Anonymous on December 26, 2003

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2005

    Irving's finest novel to date.

    'A Widow for One Year' is arguably John Irving's best novel, and if not that, at least a shining example of a writer at the peak of his powers. Make no mistake, however: John Irving is a 19th-century storyteller. He is concerned with character development through the passage of time, so there is no discernable plot to speak of. Others complain about a disjointedness to the novel, yet that is the primary characteristic of the bildungsroman. Ruth Cole is Irving's strongest and most frustrating character she is never entirely likable, nor are her family and friends exactly 'normal.' A bit of suspension of disbelief might be necessary for some readers, but that's part in parcel with the novel's brilliance whether we acknowledge it or not, life is full of tragedy and coincidence. A cynic's view is to dismiss such contrivances as hokey, yet the true storyteller delights not in hokum but in the patent absurdity of human existence. Our individual navigation through the ridiculous happenstances which people our lives to Irving clearly our most valuable characteristics. Irving paints in broad strokes, casting his characters' lives over sixty years. They never end up as we expect, and yet the novel's most touching moments are its conclusion, which takes place exactly as we would expect. 'A Widow for One Year' is a broad, ribald, erotic, and sublime work of art by one of our country's greatest living writers.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2006

    Creative and unique story telling

    I loved this book! Irving is an excellent story teller and I was hooked from the first few pages. I love that he says something and then flashes back to explain. Sometimes he'll be telling the story and give something away that is about to happen but you forget and keep reading on and then you read about the events that lead to his forshadowing statement. Amazing story, the end was a bit of a disappointment, but most authors can't always satisfy the reader with regards to endings.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2003

    An Enjoyable Read

    This is the fourth Irving novel I have read; like his other novels, the reader truly gets to know the characters throughout their lives. At times, I could not put the book down; I enjoy Irving's dry, dark sense of humor.I also love that the book takes place in Sagoponack, Long Island- the reader gets a glimpse into NY high society. If you haven't read 'The Hotel New Hampshire' yet, check out this book before 'A Widow for one Year.'

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Viewing a Writer's Soul

    Irving's novel is compelling and provocative. His writing style presents beautifully composed prose that is intellectually stimulating as well as readable. This novel presents characters who reflect the shadows with which many of us live. The novel progresses as they search for meaning and fulfillment.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Entertaining and Moving - It will leave you looking to buy your next Irving novel.

    John Irving creates characters and moments that stay with the reader long after you finish reading. His novels, however, are not for the faint of heart, and the plots are so intricate that they virtually defy explanation (at least no description I could provide would do his novels justice). No author can write a more shocking or disturbing scene - and Irving can create shocking and disturbing scenes that leave the reader either wiping away tears of laughter or gaping in horror. Irving thinks of everything as he constructs his scenes and develops his characters, and the result is an extremely richly detailed, and satisfying story. Every time I finish an Irving novel, my most difficult decision is which one to read next. A Widow for One Year is not my favorite Irving novel (see The World According to Garp for that), but it is still a tremendous, moving, and highly enjoyable story. To understand though, you just have to read it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    Excellent

    Terrific and still fresh after a bunch of years. Truly a pleasure to read, so incredibly vivid and well rendered. Definitely recommend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2009

    Stupid book, needs better plot and easier writing style.

    I didn't like the book. Frankly the book wasn't able to be followed. I wouldn't recommend this garbage to anyone. I don't know why it was a #1 bestseller.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    Absorbing and Intriguing

    A Widow for One year is a wonderful story and novel. It is a deeply moving and complicated story about a dyfunctional family, and the friends who get involved. John Irving does a fantastic job of navigating the reader through the tangled, complicated web of characters with ease. There are very emotional, dramatic parts that makes one want to keep reading and find out what happens. For instance, the scene in which Ted Cole tells Eddie about the death of his sons is so moving one cannot put the book down until it is finished. Grief and healing from pain are heavily emphasized in this story. The downside of this novel, though, is that the only people John Irving seems to know to write about in this story are writers. Every single one of the characters are writers- Ted, Eddie, Marion, Ruth, Hannah, plus numerous others. That makes the story incredibly unbelievable. I know it is just a story, but that part made it a little silly. It also seems to reflect John Irving's ego about writing. I would assume that in reality, writers have a variety of friends and associate with people of many different careers. The other thing is the Irving takes a great amount of pages to unfold a subplot with a certain meaning, and then at the end sums it up in one sentence. That tactic seems to be used a lot with modern authors. They use it because they don't think the readers will 'get it.' But in essence, it is derogatory. Aside from those two issues, it was a really excellent novel, with deep meaning. I recommend it to anyone who wants to spend a weekend curled up with a book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2004

    Excellent book, fun, rich characters

    This is a wonderful book full of quirky characters and intricately woven details. This is a must read! Best last line in context of the book as a whole. Read it then pass it on to your friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2004

    Time does stop!

    This is a love story for those who still believe in love. It's a story about constance and Wertheresque romance (only one in which the idiotic - in Dostoevsky's sense - protagonist can hold on). Love is here indeed a mystery, and we're not to ask why it is (see above review - why does Ruth love Allen?). I must admit that I was more drawn to Eddie's story than to that of Ruth (personal reasons), but part of the wonder of this novel lies in the fact that we don't find just one story. This very complexity is a welcome element in the world of American literature where story lines are often insultingly monotonous. From Irving I've also read the much underrated Hotel New Hampshire, which I can say unabashedly is one of the best novels I've ever read. A Widow for One Year, while it may not rank with Hotel New Hampshire from a strictly literary standpoint, is nevertheless both a good novel and a profound love story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2003

    a very good read!

    Irving is a master at storytelling. He made me laugh and criticize the characters as if they were real people. All of the italics were a bit exhausting, but that is all that I had a problem with. This was my 1st John Irving novel, but most definitely not the last.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    Dsappointed


    Take out the middle 200 pages

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    Tedious

    Started off great but got extremely tedious as it dragged on way too long and the plot scattered in different directions unnecessarily. Overdescriptive ruminations...I didnt like it. I got bored in the middle. Its not necessary to overwrite a novel. This one disappointed me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    Hmmm

    This story lacked the ability to make me connect with the characters. It was surprising, after reading A Prayer for Owen Meany. That was a book that gripped my emotions. This book started out well in the beginning and then just sort of fell flat and spun in too many silly directions afterwards. I didn't care for it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Highly

    A highly complex and complicated story as only John Irving can tell it. Lots of plot lines, stories within stories, novels within the novel; you'll experience every emotion from heart wrenching to hilarity. If you like John Irving, you'll love miss this one. If you've not read him before, you'll be a new convert after this! You'll regret it if you don't.!

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  • Posted July 14, 2012

    John Irving is one of the best authors I have ever read. It caus

    John Irving is one of the best authors I have ever read. It caused me to overlook some of the more uncomfortable topics this novel addressed, and it was still one of the most enjoyable stories I have ever read.

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  • Posted July 1, 2012

    Good movie

    I'm still waiting for my refund on this book.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    With “A Widow for One Year,” John Irving has created

    With “A Widow for One Year,” John Irving has created yet another group of compelling characters with all of the quirks, idiosyncrasies, tragedies, life problems, and baffling sense of optimism that we have come to expect from characters in a John Irving novel. He has also done what he does best—he puts those characters into no-win situations and somehow convinces us that they have figured out a way to win. And he does it with incomparable skill, scathing honesty, and dry, genuine humor.

    Just about every character in this novel is a writer, and they all grapple with writerly problems—most notably, the distinction between what happens in their “real” lives and what happens in their fiction. As Irving shows, despite most writers’ protestations to the contrary, they draw quite heavily on their real-life experiences as they create their fictional tales. Although this should come as absolutely no surprise to even the most casual fans of fiction, what is surprisingly eye-opening is the degree to which writers (at least the ones in this novel) are obsessed with the phenomenon of attempting to compartmentalize reality and fiction, as if they were two utterly different realms. Again, as Irving himself shows, the distinction is arbitrary—real-life can often seem life fiction, and the best fiction rings as true (if not truer) than reality.

    Ted Cole, Marion Cole, Ruth Cole, and Eddie O’Hare compose a family of writers whose lives are defined by the fictions they create—both the kind they publish and the kind they tell themselves in order to survive—and the tragedies that befall them. Although the tragedies vary in scope from the profound (the death of sons) to the mundane (bad luck with boyfriends), each tragedy creates an absence that becomes a presence in the lives of the characters. And despite the interesting and absorbing plot that Irving develops around his characters—who stand with the characters from Garp, Cider House, and Owen Meany as the best Irving has ever created—the presence of absence is Irving’s real subject here. Once again, Irving—one of the best contemporary storytellers—tells us a story that we need to hear.


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2011

    It the only book I ever threw away after I read it

    Uhh I just didn't like it

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    One of my favorite books ever

    I truly loved this book

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