Customer Reviews for

A Widow for One Year

Average Rating 4
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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 6, 2000

    Irving Has Savoir faire

    Finding an excellent novel is like an enduring search for the best crabcake. They are so few and far between that one begins to wonder if either their standards are too high or the perfect one does not exist. Irving deserves the best of the best award for this novel. The combined ingredients of memorable characters, their idiosyncratic personalities and the interwoven events throughout the novel make this concoction an insatiable dish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2000

    great book

    First John Irving novel that I have read and really enjoyed it...great character study and thoroughly engaging!! Great summer reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2000

    Vintage Irving

    An immensely satisfying read; a sprawling, complex plot driven by an eclectic assortment of amusing, often pathetic and always interesting characters...another awesome Irving novel! Here Irving offers us 37 years in the life of Ruth Cole, a woman scarred (even her fingerprint shows it) by the abscence of her mother, her womanizing father, and the haunting images of her dead brothers. While I was not as moved as much by this story as I had been with Garp or Owen Meany, I still found myself feeling spent on the last page, totally satisfied. Irving never ceases to amaze me in the way he brings little details, little events, esoteric characters together in the end. A Widow for One Year is a great, tidy package that works well on many levels. I have found that Irving's novels require patience. But if you allow yourself to get to know this great cast of characters, you'll be amazed at how Irving ties everything together and makes it all so believable, and above all, enjoyable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2000

    OSCAR-WINNER JOHN IRVING!!!!

    I'm sure Mr. Irving never envisioned earning that title when he began to pursue a writing career, but as often happens to his characters, the circle of life usually moves down uncharted roads! I have for several yrs been gifting friends with my favorite contemporary novels, many of them Irving's, & now I have discovered a new gem to add to their shelves! Thank you, John, for your warm spirit & delightful imagination that graces the lives of all your faithful readers!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2000

    best book for English class

    an easy and fun read that kept me wanting to read more and more; i really enjoy the way John Irving writes and hope that you will take the time to read this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2000

    Amazing!

    John Irving is one of the best living authors today. His work is amazing to me. Not only is it enthralling, it is believable. Most of Irving's characters in A Widow for One Year are well developed, though something was lacking from Ruth Cole. It was not particularly obvious to me why she was the principle character; I thought Eddie O'Hare was better portrayed, and I came away relating to his character more. Ruth remains cool and distant throughout the novel. But overall, I was VERY pleased with the book. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for interesting, believable fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2000

    What a writer!!! And what writing!!!

    As the jacket reminds us - Irving's WFOY is 'a joy to read'. There is a mellifluosness (honeyed) quality to his prose which makes it easy to scan. And his interests are quite reflexive, and self- conscious - a writer, writing about writers, and the process of the author going about gathering the material for his/her next work. The structure of this long book - quite rightly compared to his (self- confessed) exemplars - the Victorian novelists - makes for a challenging and involved read - a book with its head and shoulders well above the others around it. And, no doubt, this 'honeyed challenge', is in large part, responsible for the joy experienced during the read. Irving revels in laying bare the processes that go on in a writer's mind - in displaying (to echo TS Eliot's words) 'the function of a novelist'. Irving (through his heroine) quotes Graham Greene's essay, where he was reflecting on the novelist as a 'guide through the unseemly'. Is it unseemly to witness Marion Cole - recently bereaved by the death of her twin sons - finding a sexual release for her grief in the young Eddie O'Hare? - (who is about the same age as her sons when they died). Is it unseemly as 'we' stand with the heroine, in the closet of the prostitute, and 'witness' the dreadful death scene? Would we have ever let such material range through our own minds without the guiding force that the novelist, through his heroine, has provided? I think that Irving powerfully demonstrates just what it is that he sees (one aspect) of the function of the novelist to be - and be brave! Read him - you'll be impressed! This reader certainly was.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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