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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

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  •  
    michael c. hughes 10-16-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It's not Owen Meany but its good!"

    Like many other listeners I've sometimes struggled with Mr. Irving but when he's good he's soooo good! Not his absolute best for me but well worth spending my credit. I loved the dry humor from beginning to end & it's an unusual & interesting story line. I tried Son of the Circus & could not finish it so I'm a little gun shy but found this one rewarding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary BURLINGTON, MA, United States 09-06-12
    mary BURLINGTON, MA, United States 09-06-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "George Guidall makes it great."
    What made the experience of listening to A Widow for One Year the most enjoyable?

    It's not my favorite John Irving novel but still a wonderful experience. Anything read by George Guidall is enjoyable.


    Would you be willing to try another book from John Irving? Why or why not?

    Of course. Great writer.


    Which character – as performed by George Guidall – was your favorite?

    Ruth.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lisa San Francisco, CA, United States 08-28-11
    lisa San Francisco, CA, United States 08-28-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Painfully Disappointing!!"

    I found myself alternating between several emotions while I listened to this terrible John Irving novel... primarily I was disappointed that Mr. Irving could even write such insipidness, then I was angry that I was wasting my time on it, every once in awhile I was vaguely drawn in by short passages...and then I would return to disappointment. Yes, the characters were very well developed -as one would expect in an Irving novel- but beyond that I do not know what happened!! The obnoxious, totally over-done breast fixation (and I mean over-done!!), the tedious books w/in the book, the very hard to believe plot lines in the second half of the story... PUH_LEASE!! I cannot believe I actually finished this book- and up until now, I would have called myself a John Irving Fan!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tommy Byers Rock Hill, S.C. 01-17-08
    Tommy Byers Rock Hill, S.C. 01-17-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Not Recommended"

    Mr. Irving missed the boat on this one. While there were fairly exciting moments in some parts of the book, the plot is so scattered that I quickly lost interest. Being the optimist, I continued to listen with the hopes that it would get better. It did not. This one should not make any recommended book list.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Casey Phoenix, AZ, USA 06-25-08
    Casey Phoenix, AZ, USA 06-25-08 Member Since 2005
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    "Interminable"

    To be fair, I didn't get through this book. You couldn't have paid me to finish it. It is inane from the start and after several hours does not improve. I've rarely put a book -- especially one I paid for -- down without intending to go back to it. This is one of the few.

    I think the book is about the little girl, but the first three hours are all about her self-focused parents. The minutia of their lives, although bizarre, did not sustain my interest. I simply do not care to find out what happens to any of them.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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