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A Widow for One Year: A Novel [Paperback]

3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (264 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite John Irving novel! March 26 2004
A Widow for One Year has become my favorite John Irving novel. Many of his other works, while enjoyable, have put me off a little because the characters and plot are a bit over the top. This offering, while imaginative and entertaining, never gets to that stage. It's a big novel, spanning about forty years and has a satisfying, yet never hokey or corny ending. The characters, of course, are a bit quirky in their way, but said quirkiness is somehow more believable than in Irving's other novels. The story is a lot of fun and, because most of the characters are writers, allows Irving to explain and comment on the writing process. I sometimes felt he was answering his own critics while discussing the criticism of his character-writers. However, he has fun with the whole thing and never takes it too seriously, which is part of what makes this novel fun and enthralling. A Widow for One Year is a human story about loss and how far some of us would go for love. Highly recommended...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's Nothing Better than a Good Book April 8 2002
I threw down Franzen's The Connections and Delillo's Underworld in disgust, after an hour's hard effort each. I had a bad cold and was looking for the company of a good book to help distract me. I should have known that John Irving is always good company. That's what I always look for, the august company of a good storyteller who is going to do just that "tell me his story."
Don't miss this book. It has it all, good story, good characters, enough mystery and anticipation to keep looking ahead, enough sex to be contemporary, enough surprises to wake you up out of your own stale conjectures, some warm comedy to be good company, some real tragedy to touch the heart. And I think it taught me a lot that I can use in writing my own novel.
Then for fun I logged on here to read some reviews. I had to laugh at the supercilious statements of some of the editorial reviewers who are grasping at straws trying to find something to criticize. Got pen?
I'm serious about this being a good guide to how to write a novel--it's in the very bones of the book. I got a six-figure advance for my first non-fiction book, Depression is a Choice, published by Hyperion, and now I am starting a novel myself, which probably I will have to sell under a pen name since it is hard to be a cross-over author. Before my non-fiction sale,I was already an author of 5 children's book which I downplayed as "self-published," in order not to be typecast. And before I was a book author I was and still am a cognitive behavioral therapist. I toy with the idea sending my first 50 pages to this author for his remarks but of course I wouldn't presume to do so. I'll just struggle along like every other author has to do. Win by the word or lose by the word--a mind in the hand of fate. It is a worthy path.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irving speaks to his readers Nov. 12 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
My take on this book is that Irving is speaking to us via the main character, Ruth Cole. She reminds us in many instances that an author is not to be so easily judged by what his/her characters do. They are the author's characters and will do whatever the author wishes, but this cannot be assumed to be an endorsement of any particular political point of view. I think Irving was writing to make this point throughout the book; it's just a story, and the characters make decisions that have life-altering impacts, but it's just a story that follows it's characters to whatever ends their choices lead them.
I loved the book not really because of my take above, but because every few pages Irving tosses in something that is spectacularly thought-provoking. The book was well-plotted, and you did wonder how it would end. The characters learned lessons and lived their lives. Along the way, Irving was able to give you something valuable to think about at every turn. I value that greatly about all his writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that changed my outlook on life Feb. 1 2005
By A Customer
This book is for sure an intellectual read as well as hilarious. The characters of Eddie and Hannah (especially their trip together stuck in a car) always made me laugh. An exciting read as well as interesting! It really is a certain type of book for a certain type of person. If you are very proper, don't read this book!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irving's wise Widow. April 17 2004
John Irving's 537-page novel tells the emotionally compelling story of its "melancholic main character" (p. 389), Ruth Cole, in three parts. The novel opens in 1958, when 4-year-old Ruth interrupts her 39-year-old mother, Marion Cole, having sex with a 16-year-old boy, Eddie O'Hare. It was a "sad time" (p. 54) in her parents' marriage. While the Coles suffer through the psychological impact of losing their two sons in an automobile accident, Eddie is unaware that he has been specifically hired by Marion's alcoholic husband, Ted, for the purpose of becoming Marion's lover for the summer, and that "it would have lifelong results" (p. 8) for all four characters. The Coles' personal tragedy first leads Marion to abandon her womanizing husband and infant daughter, and eventually leads Ted to commit suicide. Not surprisingly, Part Two of Irving's novel finds Ruth at age 36 attempting to cope with the emotional baggage from her childhood misfortunes, and Eddie at age 48 still longing for Marion. By 1990, both Ruth and Eddie have become established writers. However, it is not until 1995 and Part Three when, at age 41, Ruth is able to escape the depths of her lifelong misery by discovering love, and at age 53, when Eddie is finally able to confront his lifelong connection with Marion. Although Irving treats sexuality rather frankly throughout his unforgettable novel, ultimately his novel transcends the sexual realm and becomes a story about surviving personal misfortune and experiencing the healing powers of love. Irving brings his characters to life in a well-drawn story. It won't take a year--but more likely less than a week--for serious readers to discover the real wisdom in Irving's WIDOW.
G. Merritt
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars If You Liked the BOOK...
Keep an Eye out for The Motion Picture, Titled "A Door In The Floor",currently in Production,Starring Jeff Bridges..No release date set yet,as of May 2003.
Published on May 23 2003 by Jim Carpenter
1.0 out of 5 stars I advice Irving and his readers to read some real literature
This is my first John Irving book, and even if it's not rated as his best one, I won't burn my fingers on another one. Read more
Published on April 29 2003 by Dwash
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly disappointing...........
I was recommended this book by a close friend, who is an avid reader of "titillating" books, and she mentioned that this one had a definite erotic edge. Read more
Published on July 16 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars Irving at his worst
After reading Hotel New Hampshire and A Prayer for Owen Meany (one of the best books I have EVER read), Widow for One Year was completely dissapointing. Read more
Published on June 21 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars How interesting to condense so many stories into one novel..
Why, why, why Mr. Irving would you write in such vivid detail about one summer and then scurry through the next forty years? Read more
Published on May 8 2002 by Cindi Getek
2.0 out of 5 stars A Widow for One Year
This book captured my attention at the beginning, and promised to deliver an interesting story of a dysfunctional family and the strange cast of characters involved in their lives. Read more
Published on April 28 2002 by Kirstin G. Larson
4.0 out of 5 stars Brialliantly read, an unbelievable story made real
I noted that other reviewers loved or hated this book. It is long, but paints picture in the mind's eye worth seeing. Read more
Published on April 18 2002 by L. Look
5.0 out of 5 stars great story brought full circle in classic Irving style
A Widow for One Year is John Irving at his best. The story trails Ruth at three different stages in her life: as a 4 year old, a young woman, and a fortysomething. Read more
Published on April 7 2002 by momazon
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