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.
We first meet Ruth Cole in the summer of 1958 when she walks in on her mother having sex with 16-year-old Eddie O'Hare, the assistant to Ruth's alcoholic father. The death of Ruth's older brothers (years before she was born) turns her mother, Marion, into a zombie who is unable to love her surviving daughter. Ted Cole is a semisuccessful writer and illustrator of disturbingly creepy children's novels. His womanizing habits prove he's "as deceitful as a damaged condom," but he remains the only stable figure in Ruth's life. The tempestuous tale fast-forwards to the year 1990 when Ruth's soaring writing career is faring far better than her lackluster love life. The final segment of the novel ends in 1995 when 41-year-old Ruth is ready to fall in love for the first time.