A Widow for One Year by John Irving
A Novel

69%

9 Critic Reviews

A thoughtful, if diffuse, examination of how writers make art of their lives and loves without otherwise benefitting from the process. The borderline-tearful ending is a bit much, but at least there aren’t any bears.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from John Irving's In One Person.

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--on Long Island, in the summer of 1958--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 forty-one-year-old widow and mother.  She's 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.
 

About John Irving

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John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times-winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award, in 1981, for the short story "Interior Space." In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules-a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last Night in Twisted River is John Irving's twelfth novel.
 
Published December 21, 1999 by Random House. 562 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A Widow for One Year
All: 9 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Above average

A thoughtful, if diffuse, examination of how writers make art of their lives and loves without otherwise benefitting from the process. The borderline-tearful ending is a bit much, but at least there aren’t any bears.

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NY Times

Above average
on May 24 1998

Here, as throughout the novel, the writing is very much of the surface, strongly, sometimes even cruelly, outlined, unfriendly to ambiguity...''A Widow for One Year'' seems to me the best story John Irving has as yet contrived.

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NY Times

Above average
on May 01 1998

In fact, his authoritative narrative steamrolls over the contrivances, implausibilities and antic excesses of his story to create an engaging and often affecting fable, a fairy tale that manages to be old-fashioned and modern all at once.

Read Full Review of A Widow for One Year: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Blog Critics

Above average
on Aug 31 2005

Having no idea what to expect, I followed the story with great pleasure. It was homey and sexy and heartbreaking, and very very hard to put down.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
on May 15 1998

A combination of vaudeville, romance, and sentimentality, A Widow for One Year is never entirely convincing, but like a warm bath, it's a great pleasure to immerse yourself in

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
on May 13 1998

More restrained (thank goodness!) than his fiction of recent years, and as heartfelt as anything he’s done, "Widow" stands as one of Irving’s best novels and a worthy thematic sequel to his most famous creation.

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People

Above average
on May 25 1998

Almost everybody in A Widow for One Year is a writer, and they freely dispense advice about the novelist's craft. Here's more: Change your shtick at least once every quarter-century. And please, go easy on the italics.

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CNN.com

Good
on Jun 02 1998

In reading "A Widow For One Year" I felt like a voyeur. Irving brings these characters so fully to life that I felt like I was intruding on people's lives, peeking in their window...

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The Satirist

Above average

His wit and imagination make us forgive the flaws. Although his subject matter remains Fate, or the bizarre, Irving is in command of his craft, and writes humorous, clearly written stories with outspoken characters.

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Reader Rating for A Widow for One Year
66%

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