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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    222
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    84
  • 2 Stars
    19
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    17

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    183
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    87
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    32
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    10
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    7

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    86
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    52
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    15
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    10
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  • 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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Boyce
  • Brentwood, TN, United States
  • 11-04-14

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".

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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.

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  • Story
  • Steve
  • Delmar, NY USA
  • 07-12-13

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.

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  • Daniel
  • Bellefonte, PA, United States
  • 02-04-13

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • 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.

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  • Performance
  • Story

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.

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  • Story
  • mary
  • BURLINGTON, MA, United States
  • 09-06-12

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.

  • Overall
  • Ella
  • toronto,, Ontario, Canada
  • 12-23-09

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 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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 8 people found this review helpful