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A Widow for One Year by John Irving

A Widow for One Year (1998)

by John Irving

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,68476560 (3.7)1 / 115
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English (66)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
One of his best. Great characters driving the plot. Even though the plot might have been unbelievable in places, the characters made you believe. Hard to explain, but the book just made me feel good. Ruth was a wonderful, strong, likable, complex character that you had to root for! ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 24, 2014 |
I was not as excited about this story as the other Irving novels I have read. I like the way he traces his characters' lives over decades of time, but they weren't as fascinating this time. ( )
  Pferdina | May 18, 2014 |
Overall I enjoyed A Widow for One Year, but it wasn't my favorite John Irving. It tended more towards the absurd than some others I've read by him, and the plot was winded around without much direction for a long time. I actually got a little bored with it in the middle and didn't feel like I cared that much about the characters. However, by the end, everything came together and I felt that it was a good book in the end. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Hmm...there were a lot of praiseworthy elements, but in the end the story just didn't really grab me. There were too many things that I found mildly implausible (especially about grown-up Ruth's fans and life). The writing was good, but not amazing, though I did really like the chapter titles. The tone shifts from genuinely funny to suspenseful to Lifetime Movie-sappy in different sections. There was a bit too much focus on the intricacies of Long Island and squash for me, as I'm not particularly interested in either. ( )
1 vote thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
Book was ok. It is little bit weirdo to me, but not too bad. ( )
  Sonkku | Dec 20, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Irvingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Commandeur, SjaakTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"... as for this little lady, the best thing I can wish her is a little misfortune" -William Makepeace Thackeray
For Janet, a love story.
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One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole woke to the sound of lovemaking- it was coming from her parents' bedroom.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345424719, Paperback)

John Irving fans will not be startled to find that A Widow for One Year is a sprawling farce-tragedy crawling with characters who are writers. In the opening scene, 4-year-old Ruth Cole walks in on her melancholy mother, Marion, who is in flagrante with 16-year-old Eddie, the driver for drunken Ted (Ruth's dad and Marion's estranged, womanizing husband).

Eddie spends the rest of his life obsessively writing novels like Sixty Times, his roman à clef about his 60 seductions by Marion. Ted is a failed novelist who gets rich and famous writing creepy children's stories based on tales he tells Ruth (such as The Mouse Crawling Between the Walls). Marion abandons Ruth, Ted, and Eddie and becomes a successful pseudonymous novelist. And Ruth becomes the most richly celebrated writer of them all because of her early training by Ted, who not only told her stories, but also helped her craft narratives to explain their home's many photographs of her brothers, who died in a gory car wreck the year before she was born. Grief over the boys is why Ruth's mother does not dare to love her.

Ruth, Irving's first female main character, works brilliantly, first as an imaginative, almost Salingeresque child coming to terms with her bewildering family, then as a grownup striving to understand her mother's motives--or at least to track her down. Ted is a mordantly funny caricature, interestingly sinister and plausibly self-justifying when most inexcusable. Eddie is a lovable schlemiel, yet not too sentimentally drawn. And what set pieces Irving can write! The story of the boys' death is horrific and effective in dramatizing the character of Ted, who narrates it. Ted's attempted murder by a spurned lover is as hilarious as the VW-down-the-marble-stairway scene in A Prayer for Owen Meany (which has been adapted by Disney Studios), though not quite on a par with the celebrated "Pension Grillparzer" episode in The World According to Garp (reissued in a 20th anniversary edition by Modern Library).

Irving has the effrontery to get away with practically any scene that comes into his head--Ruth winds up an eyewitness to a hooker's murder in Amsterdam, a Dutch detective starts tracking her down (just as Ruth is hunting Marion), and the multiple plot strands all converge in a finale that neatly echoes the opening scene. It's all done with the outrageously coincidental yet minutely realistic brio of Charles Dickens, with a sad, self-conscious jokiness like that of Irving's mentor, Kurt Vonnegut. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:48 -0400)

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Three interludes in the life of Roth Cole, writer and daughter of writers.

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