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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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7,31389730 (3.69)1 / 142

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English (74)  German (4)  Dutch (4)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (89)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
I'd forgotten how much I absolutely adore this book. This may be my favorite, but Garp and Owen Meany are also hard to beat. Such a fantastic story. Loved it! ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
When is John Irving NOT good. ( )
  DJadamson | Jan 4, 2018 |
In a nutshell: a book by a writer, about writers who write about writers.


Of John Irving's books, this is definitely a solid midlister.

Despite my snark, I did enjoy it. ( )
  beckyrenner | Dec 29, 2016 |
This was my first John Irving novel, and whilst I strongly suspect he's another Marmite kind of author in the realm of Jonathan Franzen (at least for this book), personally I've found a new favourite author.

It's no doubt terribly maudlin of me, but I just can't resist a dysfunctional family saga. A Widow for One Year begins with a couple in The Hamptons whose teenage boys had been killed in an accident five years earlier, and as the novel unfolds and time moves on it examines the ripple effect of that tragedy on the couple, their young daughter and some other key players who come into contact with the family.

Despite the backdrop of the family tragedy, this is not a depressive book. There is a lot of black comedy woven throughout the book, with strong characters and an intricate plot. Perhaps at times it wandered a little bit, so for that I'm dropping half a star, but in all a read I enjoyed very much.

4.5 stars - a rollicking good read. ( )
1 vote AlisonY | Oct 30, 2016 |
In typical Irving fashion, he takes us deeply into the hearts and minds of his characters, exposing their darkest secrets. This book is an interesting foray into the experiences of these people, but I did not like the characters very much.

I would not recommend this book except to those who are big fans of Irving and want to read all of his work. It certainly isn't terrible, and he is a brilliant teller of stories, but it just isn't very interesting compared to his other works. There is some interesting detail on the writing process, and on separating the author from the personalities of their characters. ( )
  Darth-Heather | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Irvingprimary authorall editionscalculated
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:31 -0400)

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

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