A Widow for One Year

Irving, John, 1942-

Paperback - 2001
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Widow for One Year
Random House, Inc.
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.

Baker & Taylor
Chronicles the life of a complex, abrasive woman born in the shadow of her siblings' deaths and her parents' adultery, who only finds love after motherhood and widowhood.

Blackwell North Amer
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.

& Taylor

Chronicles the thirty-seven years in the life of Ruth Cole, a complex, abrasive woman born in the shadow of her siblings' deaths and her parents' adultery, who only finds love after motherhood and widowhood. Reissue. (Tie-in to the Focus Films production of A Door in the Floor, written by Tod Williams, releasing July 2004, starring Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Mimi Rogers, & Bijou Phillips) (General Fiction)

Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2001, c1998
Edition: 1st Mass Market ed
ISBN: 034543479X
Branch Call Number: FIC I
Characteristics: 592 p. ; 18 cm.


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Mar 10, 2015
  • Irene Staron rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

John Irving has the uncanny gift of depicting characters in their fullness. Capturing the subtleties of what motivates behaviour, he presents poignant glimpses of how his characters overcome or succumb to their flaws and weaknesses. Set in the 1950's and spanning to present day his descriptions of the leisured life in the Hamptons brings to life my own memories of summering on Lake Simcoe and in Georgian Bay. One can almost smell the Ban de-Soleil and feel the heat of the sun. An unusual story, a compelling read, I did not necessarily like the characters but Irving's writing is too exceptional to pass up. He makes you want to read more of his works!

Apr 19, 2014
  • kninchicago rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I suppose it would be that one won’t love all the books one reads in a year. This was my first “bust” of 2014. The book is in three portions, following three segments of our protagonist Ruth’s life. First, when she is four and her mother begins an affair with her husband’s assistant who is 16 years old, Second, when she is mid 30s and contemplating marriage, and Third, when she has been widowed about five years after the wedding. The first segment is the strongest of the three. While I found the affair totally gross it’s the best written. But I found adult Ruth to be an incomplete person–there were times where I felt her actions or reactions were completely implausible, and I got really sick and tired of the running commentary on her physical appearance. I hate to say it, but the whole thing seemed like a man trying to write a woman and just not getting it. I can’t say I would recommend this one.

Feb 06, 2014
  • emkenny78 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Started out good, but I did not care for the ending, and the middle part seemed not to go with the rest of the book. Not one of my favorites.

Nov 09, 2013
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Irving's 9th novel. He may be a perpetual best-selling author and an Oscar winner to boot (for adapting his own "Cider House Rules"), but I think Irving is a little underrated, at least by the critical establishment who seem to consider him more a craftsman than artist. And he is, but he's better at putting together a novel and creating memorable characters than many of his peers and younger critics' darlings (Franzen comes to mind). If you've read a few of his books, there is plenty here that is familiar and while the plot veers close towards implausible (prostitutes, murder, death, etc.), it's a warm, moving and big-hearted book.

Jul 25, 2013
  • empbee rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Great style, as usual; and an entertaining story.

Oct 01, 2012

I enjoyed the story. There seemed to be mini stories within the story about characters in the book. All very entertaining, but sometimes it seemed like irrelevant excess detail. I did laugh out loud a number of times.

Feb 13, 2012
  • haploU5 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

An original story about devastating loss and the different ways people cope with the aftermath.
John Irving works his magic as he churns out this tale of heart wrenching struggle intricately woven with humour as only he can. As with all his novels, this is not a suspense –filled page turner but an unfolding drama that draws you in bit by bit, deeper and deeper. Not everyone will like this genre, but for those who do, it is quite a treat.
The first part of this novel was made into a film called “the Door In the Floor” starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger. The film is true to the novel.

Oct 01, 2011
  • vcc rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I couldn't get past the fact that this book seemed reminiscent of the 1970s and Irving's success with The World According to Garp. Its humour seemed old-fashioned, and I didn't care for it. (Jan 2001)

Mar 31, 2011
  • epreid rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

I hate it when a book is summed up in the first couple of pages and the rest just fills in the details.
I found the repetitive nature of the description felt like i was being beaten over the head with "this is what is happening and why". It was disappointing.

Feb 18, 2011

book club favorite

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