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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

3.9 (289 )
5 star
 (105)
4 star
 (101)
3 star
 (57)
2 star
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1 star
 (13)
Overall
3.9 (129 )
5 star
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4 star
 (40)
3 star
 (27)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
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Story
4.1 (130 )
5 star
 (58)
4 star
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3 star
 (21)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
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  •  
    B. Simms Indiana 04-29-07
    B. Simms Indiana 04-29-07 Member Since 2007

    Bevpianolady

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    10
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    "Fabulous Story, Gets Better with Every Reading"

    I've read this book 4 times in the past couple of years, and enjoy it more each time I read it. John Irving is a master of character development, and the writing is impecable. A totally satisfying story.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    V. T. Carson Connecticut 06-25-10
    V. T. Carson Connecticut 06-25-10 Member Since 2004

    Audiobook Raven

    HELPFUL VOTES
    154
    ratings
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    101
    46
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    8
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    "Returning to Amsterdam"

    John Irving has a fascination with the red-light districts of Amsterdam, detailed in another novel "Until I Find You." This setting and the author's exploration of many controversial sexual themes keep his books lively, entertaining, and engaging. His tight control of the narrative is also an hallmark of his method. I have enjoyed all but one of John Irving's books and would welcome audiobook versions of all of older works. We have too few of his many great works.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Creecy 03-31-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    17
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    "Great story and Excellent Narrator"

    I had seen the film A Door In The Floor which was based on this book and The Cider House Rules, and I was intrigued about John Irving's work. The book delves much further into the character of Ruth as both a child and an adult. Although I was disappointed with the ending because it felt like it ended too tidy, over all I thought it was amazing, and I am working my way through other Irving novels. His sense of irony and the way he gives the reader tidbits of information of what happens in the characters future, which they themselves don't know, leaves you wanting more all the time. The Narrator was amazing in this, and I recommend it just based on that.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grace 05-24-09
    Grace 05-24-09 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "More than a door in the floor"

    So many characters! Eddie, Marion, Ted, Thomas, Timothy, Ruth, Hannah, Harry, Mrs. Von, Alan, Graham; I would write Mr. Irving to tell him how I loved this book; how it made me feel, but when you read the book, you would know why I won't.

    Give this book a try. I disagree with those that cannot find the beauty in it. I never have made comments on books I've read before because I've never felt I could write in a way that would have accurately conveyed how they make me feel.

    You will be able to relate to the story and the characters. You will envy the author and his imagination. You will know and understand the characters. You will enjoy this book; immensely!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 12-24-06
    Amazon Customer Atlanta, GA 12-24-06 Member Since 2003

    ShootingFish

    HELPFUL VOTES
    192
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    383
    34
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    "A Waste of time and $$$"

    I love John Irving. But his books run from can't put down to can't pick up. This books falls under the latter category. This book just goes on and on and on and never really gets interesting. I bought it because of it's 5 star rating, but cant imagine why it even has 3 stars. I quit listening with 3 hours to go. Just couldn't get to the end.

    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Bedford, TX, United States 06-01-10
    Kathy Bedford, TX, United States 06-01-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    722
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    132
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    Performance
    Story
    "Confusing!"

    This was an OK book for me. I wanted to give it a higher rating since I couldn't stop listening to it but Geez Louise --- well, I'm just confused.
    George Guidall does an excellent job of narration but the story still leaves me with major brain fog.
    Parts of the story were exciting and even funny - I couldn't wait to hear what would happen next. Then there were big chunks of it that felt like being led down a dark alley and left there for way too long.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Billerica, MA, USA 07-07-09
    Diane Billerica, MA, USA 07-07-09
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    2
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    "Good but flawed"

    John Irving writes good, satisfying stories, with good characters. This long book has some great characters but Irving seems to think that all men have breast fixations that just won't quit, and it gets very tiresome. He just won't let up on the breasts, and pity the woman who is underendowed in that department. The story (or interwoven stories) move right along, and aside from one horrific, depressing incident in the later part of the book, it's believable within Irving's frame of reference. The bummer incident could have been modified or reconstructed in any number of ways to be more believable and not give the reader such an unpleasant kick in the pants. (It left me in a shocked, unhappy mood for hours after that part of the book.) Anyway, I do recommend the book, and I did enjoy it, but I bet lots of people will not care for it.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy United States 03-04-12
    Cindy United States 03-04-12 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If You are a Fan of Irving"

    Pick this one up. He is a good writer. Not his best but good enough entertainment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Chula Vista, CA, United States 11-21-10
    David Chula Vista, CA, United States 11-21-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    "Definitely John Irving"

    I downloaded this John Irving novel after having read many of his books years ago. I jumped in with this recent novel and found it to be the John Irving that I read years ago. The style and motif are the same and I was not disappointed. The narration in this case was good, but not great. I think I'd have appreciated it more if it had been dramatized, not just narrated.

    I love John Irving's books (and authors) inside books. And he takes it one degree further in A Widow for One Year. I just couldn't bring myself to give this selection five stars though.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Ashburnham, MA, USA 10-03-08
    Kathryn Ashburnham, MA, USA 10-03-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
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    "Very enjoyable."

    When I first started listening, I was put off by the narrator. With time, I adjusted to his delivery, and I very much enjoyed this book. With a different narrator and some paring down of the "books within the book", I would have given this 5 stars. Even still, I was sorry to have it end.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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