A Widow for One Year

A Widow for One Year

by John Irving
3.9 116

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A Widow for One Year by John Irving

Twenty years after The World According to Garp, John Irving gave us his ninth novel, A Widow for One Year, about a family marked by tragedy. Ruth Cole is a complex, often self-contradictory character -- a "difficult" woman. By no means is she conventionally "nice," but she will never be forgotten. Ruth's story is told in three parts, each focusing on a critical time in her life. When we first meet her -- on Long Island, in the summer of 1958 -- Ruth is only four. The second window into Ruth's life opens on the fall of 1990, when she is an unmarried woman whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career. She distrusts her judgment in men, for good reason. A Widow for One Year closes in the autumn of 1995, when Ruth Cole is a forty-one-year-old widow and mother. She's about to fall in love for the first time. Richly comic, as well as deeply disturbing, A Widow for One Year is a multilayered love story of astonishing emotional force. Both ribald and erotic, it is also a brilliant novel about the passage of time and the relentlessness of grief.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345434791
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/27/2001
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 790,695
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

John Winslow Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. He is the author of nine novels, among them The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and A Son of the Circus. Mr. Irving is married and has three sons; he lives in Toronto and in southern Vermont.



Date of Birth:

March 2, 1942

Place of Birth:

Exeter, New Hampshire


B.A., University of New Hampshire, 1965; also studied at University of Vienna; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1967

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Widow for One Year 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 113 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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.
tcarmen More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.'
Fowler More than 1 year ago
Terrific and still fresh after a bunch of years. Truly a pleasure to read, so incredibly vivid and well rendered. Definitely recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 More than 1 year ago
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 More than 1 year ago
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.!
Pretend_Spoon More than 1 year ago
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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LunaPrat More than 1 year ago
I truly loved this book
JeanLW More than 1 year ago
Wonderful charachter development but some parts were predictable which i didnt like. You learn so much about every charachter and i love Irving's writing voice