LoveReading

Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

John Irving - Author

About the Author

John Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942, and he once admitted that he was a 'grim' child. Although he excelled in English at school and knew by the time he graduated that he wanted to write novels, it was not until he met a young Southern novelist named John Yount, at the University of New Hampshire, that he received encouragement. 'It was so simple,' he remembers. 'Yount was the first person to point out that anything I did except writing was going to be vaguely unsatisfying.'

In 1963, Irving enrolled at the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, and he later worked as a university lecturer. His first novel, Setting Free the Bears, about a plot to release all the animals from the Vienna Zoo, was followed by The Water-Method Man, a comic tale of a man with a urinary complaint, and The 158-Pound Marriage, which exposes the complications of spouse-swapping. Irving achieved international recognition with The World According to Garp, which he hoped would 'cause a few smiles among the tough-minded and break a few softer hearts'.

The Hotel New Hampshire is a startlingly original family saga, and The Cider House Rules is the story of Doctor Wilbur Larch - saint, obstetrician, founder of an orphanage, ether addict and abortionist - and of his favourite orphan, Homer Wells, who is never adopted. A Prayer for Owen Meany features the most unforgettable character Irving has yet created. A Son of the Circus is an extraordinary evocation of modern day India. John Irving's latest and most ambitious novel is A Widow for One Year.

A collection of John Irving’s shorter writing, Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, was published in 1993. Irving has also written the screenplays for The Cider House Rules and A Son of the Circus, and wrote about his experiences in the world of movies in his memoir My Movie Business.

Irving has had a life-long passion for wrestling, and he plays a wrestling referee in the film of The World According to Garp. In his memoir, The Imaginary Girlfriend, John Irving writes about his life as a wrestler, a novelist and as a wrestling coach. He now writes full-time, has three children and lives in Vermont and Toronto.

Featured books by John Irving

In One Person

In One Person

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/03/2013

Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a 'sexual suspect', a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 - in his landmark novel of 'terminal cases', The World According to Garp . His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany , John Irving's In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy's friends and lovers - a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself 'worthwhile'.

ebook of the month

Other books by John Irving

Mongol Rally - Three Weeks Into the Unknown

Mongol Rally - Three Weeks Into the Unknown

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/05/2011

World According to Garp

World According to Garp

Author: John Irving Format: eBook Release Date: 09/11/2010

New York Timesbestseller --20th anniversary edition with a new afterword from the author -- "e;A wonderful novel, full of energy and art, at once funny and horrifying and heartbreaking."e;- The Washington PostThis is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her times.This is the life and deathof a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes--even of sexual assassinations.It is a novel rich with"e;lunacy and sorrow"e;; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy bothribald and robust.In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries-- withmore than ten million copies in print--this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line:"e;In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."e;Praise for The World According to Garp"e;John Irving, it is abundantly clear, is a true artist."e; - Los Angeles Times"e;A brilliant panoply of current attitudes toward sex, marriage and parenthood, the feminist movement and - above all - the concept of delineated sexual roles... Irving's characters will stay alive for years to come."e; - Chicago Tribune"e;A social tragi-comedy of such velocity that it reads rather like a domestic sequel to Catch-22."e; - The Observer (London)"e;A large talent announces itself on practically every page."e; - The Book-of-the-Month Club News

Understanding Mozart's Piano Sonatas

Understanding Mozart's Piano Sonatas

Author: John Irving Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/09/2010

Mozart's piano sonatas are among the most familiar of his works and stand alongside those of Haydn and Beethoven as staples of the pianist's repertoire. In this study, John Irving looks at a wide selection of contextual situations for Mozart's sonatas, focusing on the variety of ways in which they assume identities and achieve meanings. In particular, the book seeks to establish the provisionality of the sonatas' notated texts, suggesting that the texts are not so much identifiers as possibilities and that their identity resides in the usage. Close attention is paid to reception matters, analytical approaches, organology, the role of autograph manuscripts, early editions and editors, and aspects of historical performance practice - all of which go beyond the texts in opening windows onto Mozart's sonatas. Treating the sonatas collectively as a repertoire, rather than as individual works, the book surveys broad thematic issues such as the role of historical writing about music in defining a generic space for Mozart's sonatas, their construction within pedagogical traditions, the significance of sound as opposed to sight in these works (and in particular their sound on fortepianos of the later eighteenth-century) , and the creative role of the performer in their representation beyond the frame of the text. Drawing together and synthesizing this wealth of material, Irving provides an invaluable reference source for those already familiar with this repertoire.

Last Night in Twisted River

Last Night in Twisted River

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/09/2010

In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, a twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constable's girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, pursued by the constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them. In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted River - John Irving's twelfth novel - depicts the recent half-century in the United States as a world 'where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course.' From the novel's taut opening sentence to its elegiac final chapter, what distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the author's unmistakable voice, the inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller.

A Prayer For Owen Meany

A Prayer For Owen Meany

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/09/2010

'If you care about something you have to protect it. If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.' Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't believe in accidents; he believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is both extraordinary and terrifying.

The World According To Garp

The World According To Garp

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/09/2010

'Like all extraordinary books, The World According to Garp defies synopsis', wrote the Chicago Sun Times when Garp was first published in 1978. It is a marvellous, important, permanent novel by a serious artist of remarkable powers. Garp is a book that captivates all who read it. Peopled with the most extraordinary characters you will ever meet, here is a novel that will make you laugh, make you weep, and, above all, make you think.

Last Night in Twisted River

Last Night in Twisted River

Author: John Irving Format: eBook Release Date: 27/10/2009

In 1954, in the cookhouse of a logging and sawmill settlement in northern New Hampshire, an anxious twelve-year-old boy mistakes the local constables girlfriend for a bear. Both the twelve-year-old and his father become fugitives, forced to run from Coos Countyto Boston, to southern Vermont, to Torontopursued by the implacable constable. Their lone protector is a fiercely libertarian logger, once a river driver, who befriends them.In a story spanning five decades, Last Night in Twisted RiverJohn Irvings twelfth noveldepicts the recent half-century in the United States as a living replica of Coos County, where lethal hatreds were generally permitted to run their course. From the novels taut opening sentenceThe young Canadian, who could not have been more than fifteen, had hesitated too longto its elegiac final chapter, Last Night in Twisted River is written with the historical authenticity and emotional authority of The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is also as violent and disturbing a story as John Irvings breakthrough bestseller, The World According to Garp.What further distinguishes Last Night in Twisted River is the authors unmistakable voicethe inimitable voice of an accomplished storyteller. Near the end of this moving novel, John Irving writes: We dont always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanlyas if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earththe same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives.From the Hardcover edition.

Fourth Hand

Fourth Hand

Author: John Irving Format: eBook Release Date: 07/08/2007

The Fourth Hand asks an interesting question: How can anyone identify a dream of the future? The answer: Destiny is not imaginable, except in dreams or to those in love.While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation's first hand transplant; meanwhile, in the distracting aftermath of an acrimonious divorce, the surgeon is seduced by his housekeeper. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband's left hand-that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy.This is how John Irving's tenth novel begins; it seems, at first, to be a comedy, perhaps a satire, almost certainly a sexual farce. Yet, in the end, The Fourth Hand is as realistic and emotionally moving as any of Mr. Irving's previous novels-including The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and A Widow for One Year-or his Oscar-winning screenplay of The Cider House Rules.The Fourth Hand is characteristic of John Irving's seamless storytelling and further explores some of the author's recurring themes-loss, grief, love as redemption. But this novel also breaks new ground; it offers a penetrating look at the power of second chances and the will to change.From the Hardcover edition.

Son of the Circus

Son of the Circus

Author: John Irving Format: eBook Release Date: 25/06/2007

Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla is a 59-year-old orthopedic surgeon and a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto. Periodically, the doctor returns to Bombay, where most of his patients are crippled children. Once, 20 years ago, Dr. Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, 20 years later, he will be reacquainted with the murderer.

A Prayer for Owen Meany 21 Great Bloomsbury Reads for the 21st Century

A Prayer for Owen Meany 21 Great Bloomsbury Reads for the 21st Century

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/01/2007

Eleven-year-old Owen Meany, playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend's mother. Owen doesn't believe in accidents; he believes that he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying. At moments a comic, self-deluded victim, but in the end the principal tragic actor in a divine plan, Owen Meany is the most heartbreaking hero John Irving has yet created.

Until I Find You

Until I Find You

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/08/2006

'According to his mother, Jack Burns was an actor before he was an actor, but Jack's most vivid memories of childhood were those moments when he felt compelled to hold his mother's hand. He wasn't acting then.' Jack Burns' mother, Alice, is a tattoo artist in search of the boy's father, a virtuoso organist named William who has fled America to Europe. To fund her journey, she plies her trade in the seaports of the Baltic coast. But her four-year-old son's errant father can't be found, and soon even Jack's memories of that perplexing time are called into question. It is only when he becomes a Hollywood actor in later life that what he has experienced in the past comes into telling play in his present......

Until I Find You

Until I Find You

Author: John Irving Format: eBook Release Date: 27/06/2006

Until I Find You is the story of the actor Jack Burns his life, loves, celebrity and astonishing search for the truth about his parents. When he is four years old, Jack travels with his mother Alice, a tattoo artist, to several North Sea ports in search of his father, William Burns. From Copenhagen to Amsterdam, William, a brilliant church organist and profligate womanizer, is always a step ahead has always just departed in a wave of scandal, with a new tattoo somewhere on his body from a local master or scratcher.Alice and Jack abandon their quest, and Jack is educated at schools in Canada and New England including, tellingly, a girls school in Toronto. His real education consists of his relationships with older women from Emma Oastler, who initiates him into erotic life, to the girls of St. Hildas, with whom he first appears on stage, to the abusive Mrs. Machado, whom he first meets when sent to learn wrestling at a local gym. Too much happens in this expansive, eventful novel to possibly summarize it all. Emma and Jack move to Los Angeles, where Emma becomes a successful novelist and Jack a promising actor. A host of eccentric minor characters memorably come and go, including Jacks hilariously confused teacher the Wurtz; Michelle Maher, the girlfriend he will never forget; and a precocious child Jack finds in the back of an Audi in a restaurant parking lot. We learn about tattoo addiction and movie cross-dressing, sleeping in the needles and the cure for cauliflower ears. And John Irving renders his protagonists unusual rise through Hollywood with the same vivid detail and range of emotions he gives to the organ music Jack hears as a child in European churches. This is an absorbing and moving book about obsession and loss, truth and storytelling, the signs we carry on us and inside us, the traces we cant get rid of. Jack has always lived in the shadow of his absent father. But as he grows older and when his mother dies he starts to doubt the portrait of his fathers character she painted for him when he was a child. This is the cue for a second journey around Europe in search of his father, from Edinburgh to Switzerland, towards a conclusion of great emotional force.A melancholy tale of deception, Until I Find You is also a swaggering comic novel, a giant tapestry of lifes hopes. It is a masterpiece to compare with John Irvings great novels, and restates the authors claim to be considered the most glorious, comic, moving novelist at work today.From the Hardcover edition.

Cider House Rules

Cider House Rules

Author: John Irving Format: eBook Release Date: 04/01/2005

John Irving's best novel . . . He is among the very best storytellers. - Philadelphia InquirerFrom one of America's most beloved and respected writers comes the classic story of Homer Wells, an orphan, and Wilbur Larch, a doctor without children of his own, who develop an extraordinary bond with one another. Entertaining and affecting . . . A truly astounding amount of artistry and ingenuity. - San Diego UnionWitty, tenderhearted, fervent, and scarifying. - New York Times Book Review

Mozart's Piano Concertos

Mozart's Piano Concertos

Author: John Irving Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/02/2003

Mozart's piano concertos stand alongside his operas and symphonies as his most frequently performed and best loved music. They have attracted the attention of generations of musicologists who have explored their manifold meanings from a variety of viewpoints. In this study, John Irving brings together the various strands of scholarship surrounding Mozart's concertos including analytical approaches, aspects of performance practice and issues of compositional genesis based on investigation of manuscript and early printed editions. Treating the concertos collectively as a repertoire, rather than as individual works, the first section of the book tackles broad thematic issues such as the role of the piano concerto in Mozart's quasi-freelance life in late eighteenth-century Vienna, the origin of his concertos in earlier traditions of concerto writing; eighteenth-century theoretical frameworks for the understanding of movement forms, subsequent historical shifts in the perception of the concerto's form, listening strategies and performance practices. This is followed by a 'documentary register' which proceeds through all 23 original works, drawing together information on the source materials. Accounts of the concertos' compositional genesis, early performance history and reception are also included here, drawing extensively on the Mozart family correspondence and other contemporary reports. Drawing together and synthesizing this wealth of material, Irving provides an invaluable reference source for those already familiar with this repertoire.

The Fourth Hand

The Fourth Hand

Author: John Irving Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/06/2002

'Imagine a young man on his way to a less-than-thirty-second event - the loss of his left hand, long before he reached middle age.' While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation's first hand transplant. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband's left hand, that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy...