9780345434791

A Widow for One Year

Irving, John

ISBN 10: 034543479X / 0-345-43479-X
ISBN 13: 9780345434791
Publisher: Fawcett
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
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 crucial 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 in the fall of 1990, when Ruth 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.

Review:
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

Review

Review:
"Deeply affecting . . . The pleasures of this rich and beautiful book are manifold. To be human is to savor them."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"MASTERFUL . . . POWERFUL . . .
Irving's best books are Dickensian in their rich characters, plotting and language--and of course, in moving the reader. On the final page of A Widow for One Year . . . I literally burst out crying."
--Orlando Sentinel

"A sprawling 19th-century production, chock full of bizarre coincidences, multiple plot lines, lengthy digressions, and stories within stories. . . . An engaging and often affecting fable, a fairy tale that manages to be old-fashioned and modern all at once."
--The New York Times

"[Irving's] characters can beguile us onto thin ice and persuade us to dance there. His instinctive mark is the moral choice stripped bare, and his aim is impressive. What's more, there's hardly a writer alive who can match his control of the omniscient point of view."
--The Washington Post Book World

"In the sprawling, deeply felt A Widow for One Year, John Irving has delivered his best novel since The World According to Garp. . . . Like a warm bath, it's a great pleasure to immerse yourself in."
--Entertainment Weekly

"Enchantingly balances the haunting tug of grief with the lure of enduring love . . . Irving's rich narrative and his sense of play result in a delicious collusion between author and reader."
--Raleigh News & Observer

"WONDERFULLY SATISFYING . . .
[Irving] tells this story with so much delight that it's difficult for the reader not to be infected with the same kind of joy in the reading."
--The Dallas Morning News

"As compelling as Garp . . . Which is to say it's terrific. . . . His most moving book . . . John Irving is one of America's great storytellers."
--San Jose Mercury News

"Comic and tragic, brilliant, and moving . . . Crammed with all the wonderful characters, quirky situations and memorable coincidences that have made [Irving] so beloved by readers . . . A terrific read that will make you its willing slave, so captivating is its allure."
--Chattanooga Free Press

"A feast . . . One of this storyteller's richest works. . . . A rich, resonant tale."
--Austin American-Statesman

"Irving is a writer whose keenest sensibilities have always fallen somewhere between Dickensian verbosity and Mad magazine mischief."
--Rocky Mountain News

"Full of humor, heartbreak and lust."
--Newsday

"POWERFUL . . . A MASTERPIECE."
--St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"[A] sprawling, complex family history . . . Wisely and carefully crafted."
--USA Today

"A Widow for One Year delivers everything John Irving fans have come to expect from the beloved author of The World According to Garp: a funny, sad, sprawling saga full of oddball yet believable characters."
--Glamour

"There's only one thing wrong with John Irving novels: They have to end. Readers won't easily part with the characters in his latest work, A Widow for One Year. . . . [An] exhilarating talent."
--The Tennessean

"Moving and memorable . . . This novel marks a return to the deep but gentle examination of human nature that made Garp so successful."
--San Diego Union-Tribune

"May be Irving's best book . . . A remarkable achievement."
--Sunday Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

From the Back Cover

Editorial reviews may belong to another edition of this title.
 

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A Widow for One Year (ISBN: 034543479X / 0-345-43479-X)
Irving, John
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Book Description: Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reissue. 175 x 108 mm. Brand New Book. 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 crucial 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 in the fall of 1990, when Ruth 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. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780345434791

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Book Description: Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reissue. 175 x 108 mm. Brand New Book. 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 crucial 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 in the fall of 1990, when Ruth 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. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780345434791

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