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A Widow for One Year | [John Irving]

A Widow for One Year

Ruth Cole is a complex, often self-contradictory character — a "difficult" woman. Her story is told in three parts, each focusing on a crucial time in her life. When we first meet her, Ruth is only four. The second window into Ruth's life opens when she is an unmarried woman whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career. The novel closes in the autumn of 1995, when Ruth is a 41-year-old widow and mother — and about to fall in love for the first time.
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Publisher's Summary

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 in the summer of 1958 on Long Island, 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 41-year-old widow and mother — and 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.

©1998 Garp Enterprises, Ltd.; (P)1998 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Irving's most entertaining and persuasive novel since...The World According to Garp." (The New York Times)

"Impressive....There's hardly a writer alive who can match his control of the omniscient point of view." (The Washington Post Book World)

"Wisely and carefully crafted...Irving is among the few novelists who can write a novel about grief and fill it with ribald humor soaked in irony." (USA Today)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (321 )
5 star
 (120)
4 star
 (111)
3 star
 (61)
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Overall
4.0 (157 )
5 star
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 (46)
3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (159 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (6)
Performance
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  •  
    Robert New York, NY, United States 03-31-07
    Robert New York, NY, United States 03-31-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    78
    ratings
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    152
    15
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    Overall
    "I'm with June"

    This isn't among Irving's best, but even when he's not in top form, Irving writes with such flavor that the story stays in the mind long after you've finished the book. I was less than captivated by what feels like the author's over-interest in his alter ego's sexual prowess, and would have been delighted if the book had been two hours shorter.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 12-23-09
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 12-23-09 Member Since 2013

    Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1138
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    339
    104
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    5
    Overall
    "Boring!"

    Well, there is 24 hours of my life I won't get back. Listening to this book was tedious at best. It is divided into 3 parts. The first part was about Ruth Cole's family. A dysfunctional group of people who lived through a tragedy which was instrumental in ripping them apart. It had potential, they even made a movie of the first part of the book called "The Door in the Floor". I can see why the film makers stopped at the first part. The rest of the book was lots and lots of filler...and really boring filler at that! Not even George Guidall could breathe life into this book. After listening to A Prayer for Owen Meany, I was looking forward to another John Irving novel. Guess I picked the wrong one.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kandice Hawaii 05-24-15
    Kandice Hawaii 05-24-15 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    8
    7
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    "Repetitious nonsense"

    I listened to this book after finishing Irving's previous book: "A prayer for Owen Meany" which I loved. "A widow for one year" was a disappointing follow up. Irvin's ridiculous referrals to women's breasts and their lingerie and clothing was funny in Owen Meany, but there was far too much of it in this book to the point of it ruining the story. Since there was not much of a story either, the book was very disappointing and I feel like I wasted my credit this month!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin 03-22-15
    Benjamin 03-22-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wow!!"

    Great book like most Irving books.
    Loved every aspect. If you like J.I you would like this book. Audiobook is excellent

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-17-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Captivating"

    I'm fairly new to Audible books and remain impressed with the way the narration maintains the images I create when I read the stories in print. This is my third Irving Audible book. The World According to Garp and Last Night in Twisted River were very good, too. The Cider House Rules is up next.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Boyce Brentwood, TN, United States 11-04-14
    Boyce Brentwood, TN, United States 11-04-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    44
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    12
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good and Not So Good!!"
    Any additional comments?

    The Audible.com intro notes that this is really three stories, and so it is. Connected by threads, but really three separate tales. Story #1 was enthralling. I absolutely loved the characters, the story, the suspense, the interactions. It was both sweet and erotic, and with George Guidall as the narrator (performer), I will listen to it again.

    As for the second story, not so much. I skipped often as I went through it. Even George couldn't rescue #2.

    The third story was much shorter than the first two, but everything I noted for the first story is true of the third, and I would recommend "A Widow For One Year".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana Gold Beach, OR, United States 08-17-13
    Diana Gold Beach, OR, United States 08-17-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    50
    4
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "Boring!"

    I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany so I thought I'd listen to other Irving books. This one is a turkey. There seems to be no plot, just a series of anecdotes about sexual exploits and marital infidelity. The characters lack depth. There are huge gaps of elapsed time in which the characters aged, but didn't really grow. The pace of the novel isn't helped by the narrator whose reading is slow and ponderous, when there isn't really anything to ponder. Huge disappointment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Delmar, NY USA 07-12-13
    Amazon Customer Delmar, NY USA 07-12-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    85
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    377
    23
    FOLLOWERS
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    1
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It's not the destination, it's the journey..."

    Looking over the reviews for this book, I see some frustration at the lack of resolution, how the book never "went anywhere", etc. That's John Irving. When I download one of his books, I know I am in for a lot of entertaining character development, interesting, interconnected vignettes and the like, but that I may not be getting a big tidy story arc or a punchline. It's still great listening, in my opinion!

    When I first heard George Guidall years ago, I thought I might not be a fan because his voice has a grandfatherly characteristic to it that I felt might be hard to overcome when voicing younger or female characters, but I've come around on that opinion. He's narrated some of my favorites and seems like an old friend at this point.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Bellefonte, PA, United States 02-04-13
    Daniel Bellefonte, PA, United States 02-04-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    1
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    Story
    "The First Third is Great!"
    Would you try another book from John Irving and/or George Guidall?

    Yes


    Would you ever listen to anything by John Irving again?

    Yes


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I won't give it away, but there are a couple powerful scenes where writer characters use the full force of their narrative abilities to reveal some disturbing details.


    Was A Widow for One Year worth the listening time?

    On the whole. First third was great, typical Irving. The last two thirds were so-so.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    richard/sharon great falls, va, United States 12-06-12
    richard/sharon great falls, va, United States 12-06-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
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    36
    36
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    8
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    Story
    "Don't Miss This"

    I was so sorry this book ended. The varied and flawed characters the interweaving stories. It was so worth it. The narration was superb and if you like a great story and like to reread in the future - Don't miss this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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