A Widow for One Year

by John Irving

eBooks of the Month Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on A Widow for One Year

June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on A Widow for One Year...

This is a stunning novel by one of my favourite authors.  Typical Irving, it’s the perfect blend of drama and bawdiness beautifully told.  His heroine, Ruth Cole, is an author and her story is told through three sections – her childhood and the loss of her two brothers; when she is unmarried and forging her writing career; finally, when she has become a widow at the age of 41.  There was so much of her personality – especially her process as an author – that rang true with me.  Irving’s attention to detail is incredible – I ‘saw’ everything he wanted me to but nothing was description just for the sake of it.  The last sentence is stunning in bringing this lengthy and complex story full circle – so moving and satisfying.  Dare I say I preferred it to Owen Meany?

A Widow for One Year Synopsis

'One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole awoke to the sound of lovemaking - it was coming from her parents' bedroom'. This is the story of Ruth Cole. It is told in three parts: on Long Island, in the summer of 1958, when she is only four; in 1990, when she is an unmarried woman whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career; and, in the autumn of 1995, when Ruth Cole is a forty-one-year-old widow and mother. She's also about to fall in love for the first time...

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A Widow for One Year Press Reviews

'Wickedly knowing, mischievously post-modern and magical realist along the lines of Gunter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Robertson Davies' Time Out


'Gripping, full of horror and humour' Literary Review


'A compelling chronicle of love and loss... His most intricate and fully imagined novel' San Francisco Chronicle


'Irving's storytelling has never been better' New York Times


'His best since Garp' Time

'Very few novels have ever made me cry. Irving's The World According to Garp was one. Now, 20 years later, he scores again on my emotional map. Widow is a book to reassure: Dickensian in scope, hilarious on one page, heartbreaking just a few pages later, sexy all the way through, it winds its way through the lives of its oh-so-fallible characters like a devious serpent, slow, languorous in its rhythm, ever ready to bite ferociously at the first opportunity. It's about characters who are all somehow writers (and one brave, lone Dutch policeman), about motherhood, love lost, regained and never forgotten, loyalty and betrayal, the intransigent demands of the heart and the soul. In one word, it's about life. And all its damning contradictions. Like all the best novels, it will stay with you for a long time, seeding your mind with questions and truly unforgettable images, every description a joy or a heartbreak.' (Kirkus UK)

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780552997966
Publication date: 13/03/1999
Publisher: Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780552997966
Publication date: 13th March 1999
Author: John Irving
Publisher: Black Swan an imprint of Transworld Publishers Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 656 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About John Irving

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, ...

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