I liked this John Irving book the best with Garp a close second. He is my favorite author and I was very pleased with this book. Anyone who has not read Irving may like this book as a first read as the characters and story are well developed and not as quirky as others he writes about (not that quirky is a bad thing).
After my hungry consumption of the "The World According to Garp" I was anxious to read this but also worried that it wouldn't live up to my high hopes. I had nothing to fear, however. Like Garp, the novel follows a single person, yet many of the supporting characters have richly developed backgrounds of their own that spring off into short stories sometimes. While it may sound distracting, it lends a completeness to the book that one doesn't often find elsewhere.
We start with four-year old Ruth Cole, whose parent's marriage is fractured, to say the least. Haunted by the death of their two teenaged sons years earlier, both her mother and father have coped in vastly differnt ways. When her father hires an assistant for the summer, his presence leads to an event that will forever change the course of Ruth's life. From there we follow Ruth throughout her young adulthood and into middle-age, weaving a very differnt tale, yet still bringing in the characters from the past.
I enjoyed this book, it is a long book at times it felt long, it did drag a bit a few places, but it was an entertaining read. I like John Irving's style of writing, he truly brings places and people to life, the quirks were different and made the book very interesting. I would recommend this book.
My second Irving book - I LOVED Cider House (didn't see the movie) and picked up this one in hopes I would love it just as much . . . not the case. It really seemed to drag, and could have been about 250 pages instead of 592. Also, the ending did not seem believeable to me at all. I will still try one more of his books, though - just not sure which one yet.
Greatly acclaimed by both critics and readers, this sprawling book filled with Irving's usual array of quirky characters, spans 37 years in the life of Ruth Cole, the daughter of a 'lecherous Long Island children's book author.'
A Widow for One Year is a complex story, but boils down to two following two authors from youth to middle age in their search for happiness, love, and closure. This is complicated by a woman (mother to one, lover to the other) who fled her family, leaving behind two people to push through their sadness to find a place of contentment. The novel is well written, and the story is good. However, the book could have used some editing. A Widow for One Year - 100 pages would've been an excellent book.
I loved this book. The first half of the book was made into a movie with Kim Basinger and Jeff Bridges called Door in the Floor. The 2nd half of the book is a continuation in later years. A very good read.
Maybe I wasn't in the mood for John Irving, so it's my fault, but when the first hundred pages had boarding school, dead kids, New England, major characters who happen to be authors, and smatterings of German, I spent the rest of the book waiting for a bear to ride through the door on a motorcycle.
It's almost like a self-parody, this book. He tries a female protagonist this time 'round, but that "woman" struck me as John Irving in drag - her competitive machismo is in full force as she builds up her squash game, practicing all day, icing her shoulder, and impressing every person who sees her with how strong her right arm is. She even beats a guy up at one point.
Anyway, the last 150 pages really picked up and bumped it up from 2 stars to 3, for me.
And I realize that no matter how much I make fun of John Irving's stock elements, I keep reading him.
I have read John Irving several times and realize he just doesn't capture me. More of a style issue than quality of writing. It is a #1 NY Times Best Seller and NY Times Notable Book. Includes a Readers Guide in the back for personal or book group use.
"A sprawling, complex famly history, 'A Widow for One Year' will appeal to readers who like old-fashioned story telling mixed with modern sensitivities. Wisely and carefully crafted, it's a novel about grief, the kind that lingers, and bout families, the ones we're born into and ones we make for ourselves. Irving is among the few novelists who can write a novel about grief and fill it with ribald humor soaked in irony." - USA Today
I'm generally a big fan of John Irving, but this is my least favourite of his titles. Then again, I really liked both 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' and 'Hotel New Hampshire' which many of his fans don't, so take that how you will.
John Irving's A Widow For One Year is the epic story of a family, dysfunctional at best, unable to cope with tragedy--or with each other. The unabridged audiobook, narrated by George Guidall (The Cat Who Sang for the Birds, The Inner Sanctum, The Legacy) draws the listener in with a crisp, methodical vocal presentation. Guidall portrays each character with a convincingly distinct voice, accurately impersonating the characters' intonations and verbal habits. The interaction between characters is both conversational and believable.
Amazing tale sweeping the entire life of a children's book author and his daughter who grows to become an author herself. Drama, murder, true life feel. The first section is the basis of the movie by the same title. Irving at his finest.
"Compelling. . . John Irving is at the peak of his considerable powers in A Widow for One Year, his most intricate and fully imagined novel. . . . Irving's narrative spans 37 years in the life of Ruth Cole and the people around her. . . . By turns antic and moving, lusty and tragic [this novel] is bursting with memorable moments." - San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
Some how this is the first John Irving book that I have read and I loved it. His ability to develop characters and story lines is amazing. The characters stayed with me for days after I finished the book.
"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."