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A Widow for One Year
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A Widow for One Year

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  40,384 ratings  ·  1,882 reviews
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 199
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Paperback, 592 pages
Published November 27th 2001 by Ballentine Books (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kate
Jul 13, 2007 Kate rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I hated this book. John Iriving's inability to write women characters was a huge problem in this book since it has a female protagonist. I didn't care about her at all and I wasn't that intrigued by the story either. I generally like John Irving's writing style, but it didn't make any difference to me with this book because I didn't like one single character.
Laura
John Irving has yet again created a whole world between the covers of a novel. Characters grow old with the reader, experience lust and loss, love and life. The thoughtfulness of his every detail and the concise placement of every word create a landscape more vivid than reality
One of the interesting topics of conversation in A Widow for One Year involves the main character’s attitude towards autobiographical fiction. Irving’s protagonist, world-famous author Ruth Cole, gives one hope that the po
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Oceana9
Nov 16, 2007 Oceana9 rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horny bored housewives
OK here's my final word on John Irving, because I will probably never read anything else he's written (though I've heard The World According to Garp is his best.) His characters are real and they were JUST ENOUGH to keep me going each of the twenty times I nearly stopped reading this novel. The plot is a rambling patchwork in which we never, ever, forget the writer sitting at his typewriter, searching for something to say. When he finds it, he riffs on it till it dies, and then searches for some ...more
Jeana
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eli
The first thing that struck me about this book was the heart-stopping beauty of Marion, a central character near the beginning of the book. It's tough to get images that concrete in written words, but Irving handles it without strain. Its not just a physical description, its the way that the rest of the image is a bit darker, a bit fuzzier when Marion is in the picture, like Irving is using the depth of field in a photograph to highlight the subject, like her physical brilliance is so overwhelmi ...more
Noce
Di come arrivammo al giorno in cui Irving mi portò alle giostre.

Inutile negare che con John, io abbia passato innumerevoli momenti felici.

La nostra è una storia d’amore ultra decennale. Presi una cotta per lui, quando da adolescente lo incontrai in una libreria di un anonimo paesino di mare, e rimasi ore a sentirlo raccontare le storie di Homer Ne “Le regole della casa del sidro”.

Ma poi, come spesso accade nelle storie dei grandi amori, lo persi di vista. Lo rincontrai anni dopo, quando una mia
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devon
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Erick
The first couple hundred pages of the book, before it jumps forward several decades, are the most even, and it is this part of the story that is most endearing. This first part introduces us to the story's three or four main characters and chronicles their shared summer of 1958--a summer which, you guessed it, has profound effects on the rest of all their lives.

And it is much of the rest of these lives that Irving takes us through in the remaining four hundred pages, and due to the front-heavy n
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Bridgette Redman
I’d forgotten what an intoxicating writer John Irving is. His compelling prose has a clarity and starkness that manages to entertain your brain and soul while permanently incorporating his characters and stories into your memory and being.

Irving is not one of those writers who kicks out a new novel every year. His novels are too carefully crafted, too (dare I say it?) literary to be anything less than an evolutionary process. After reading A Widow for One Year, I suspect his books are touchstone
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Carol
My 4-star "read" review is really a misnomer because I haven't really "read" this book. This is my third try at it and once again I am stopping at the same spot I stopped the other two times! I reread the first third of the book, which I enjoyed, got into the second third of the book, read about 50 pages and come to a grinding halt.

I'm really not sure what it is that is stopping me at this point but since it is the third time, I'm not sure I will try again. I returned it to the library and am a
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Chana
I had really expected something different. This is the 1st of his books that I have read but I knew he wrote The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany. Maybe it is just this book but I have to say that Mr. Irving has his mind in the gutter. (sorry to all of you who think this was a terrible thing to say!) He is funny sometimes and he does write memorable scenes, however... right now we are perusing the red light district in Amsterdam. There is sex on just about e ...more
Kellie
When I think about a book written by John Irving, the picture that comes to mind is a vine; a vine that weaves within itself and spreads thick in it’s own mass. This is the 3rd Irving book I have read. Irving uses some of the same themes in his many novels. Boarding schools, younger men with older women are some that immediately come to mind. This particular book is about a family that lives in The Hamptons. The father, Ted is an author of children’s books. The wife, Marion, is also an author bu ...more
Tocotin
Just started... I don't know but what's with all the italicized words? Does the author do this in all his books?

Omg I just finished it. It sucked so much. The characters were all flat, reduced to one quirk and one obsession, with maybe one exception (Rooie), and OMG again, why would a writer write about a writer writing about a writer? And what was it with the main character's family of writers, and her mother's lover being a writer too? And why would the author avoid simple names or pronouns, a
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Mitch
This is one of those 537-page books that, after you've read about 100 pages, you realize you've pretty much seen what the author's handing out and you don't care for it. This is a drag because there is so much more of it to go and only some misguided impulse to finish what you've started goads you stubbornly onward.

What's not to like? Well, here's some:

At times Irving writes with the grace of a ballet dancer and at others he lumbers along like a blindfolded football player looking for an exit.
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Irene
This is the only Irving novel I've read so far, but I plan to read more in the future. I read "A widow for one year" about a year ago, and I picked it unknowingly in the bookshop without knowing anything about the author, his style or the story. To be honest, I picked it up just because:

a) It was long and it was summer
b) It began with the sentence "One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole woke to the sound of lovemaking -it was coming from her parent
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E
Aug 02, 2012 E rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
The first half is Irving at his best. All those hooks on the wall. All that broken glass and all those windblown sketches. All that honesty amid all that posturing. All that clunky sex amid endless guilt.

The second half embodies the detachment, the absurdity, the too-many-ideas-at-once that the main characters have grown to embrace. Perhaps they are defense mechanisms. Perhaps they are the inevitable scars of emotional abuse. Marion is so matter-of-fact about her fate, so resigned to a life that
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Stephanie "Jedigal"
Aug 03, 2008 Stephanie "Jedigal" rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie "Jedigal" by: Karyn
Wow. My 5th Irving, and what a good book. As usual, the author depicts scenarios that seem SO UNLIKELY! and yet they are believable and compelling.

A major theme of this novel is grief, grief for those we've lost to death, grief for our bad past choices, grief for loss of connection with the living, grief over abandonment. Connected to this, however, is the theme of love. Love of children for their parents, love of parents for children, love for our fellow man whom we may not know very well, the
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Arwen56
Una prova abbastanza modesta da parte di Irving, scrittore che solitamente mi piace. Solo a tratti ho trovato il suo consueto accattivante modo di narrare. Le situazioni proposte e i personaggi sono poco convincenti, anche considerando il fatto che, nei romanzi di questo autore, c’è sempre una componente surreale. Ma, qui, funziona poco anche quella. A dirla sinceramente, mi è quasi parso che Irving abbia un po’ combinato alla bell’e meglio idee sparse e poco coerenti tra loro. I temi a lui cari ...more
Suzanne
John Irving is a master at his craft. Therefore, I will never, ever doubt an interest in his books again. A Widow for One Year sat on my shelf for years. I had read two of Irving’s previous books and enjoyed them, but something about this one made me stay away. The premise isn’t something that would normally make me rush out and want to read it. A couple in the 1950′s, lose their two teenage sons in a tragic car accident. They have another child, this time a girl. The mother, Marion, can’t face ...more
Jessalyn Hill
This book was slightly disappointing, despite how interesting the plot was. The main character, Ruth, seemed like half a person to me - and what an unlovable person, at that!

One interview said the book's "comic masterstroke" was that writer John Irving made all of the characters in this book writers. Ha ha ha ha haaaaaa.....oh wait. That's so funny, I forgot to laugh. It would have been funny if all of the characters were hot dog vendors, for example, or clowns. But I fail to see what is funny
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Karen Klink
I started to give this four stars but, the more I thought about it, well, here's five stars.

A fifth star (from me) means there has to be something timeless about the story, passages that express moments of what I think of as universal connection and deep understanding. My heart either seems to slow down or speed up and I sometimes close my eyes and feeling a welling up of emotion inside. I suppose if I were willing to spend the time on this review I could express myself better, but here I sit i
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Suzanne
One of the great books Irving has ever written, this novel is basically two stories in one. A fairly accurate and well-done film version of the first part came out a few years ago entitled "A Door in the Floor". It was well cast with Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger and filmed on location on Long Island.
This is the story of a young girl born to two people whose lives were destroyed when their two young sons were killed while driving their parents home after a night of too much drink. The child is
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Laurent
Wow, what a strange book

Having read 'Garp' I was pretty keen to give another Irving book a go. Well, I kind of wished I hadn't. As a vaguely intelligent human being who has seen the world revolve, I have several gripes with this book.

Firstly, it is my firm belief that Eddie O'Hare must be one of the biggest fools in literary history, if he cannot get over Ruth Cole. Come on, are you serious? He keeps loving her until they're old and decrepit despite not seeing her for all those years. That my fr
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David Brown
I had never read a John Irving novel until the one who is always right, Mrs B, handed me a copy of The World According To Garp. Mrs B once told me my style of writing reminded her of Irving so I was understandably intrigued to try one of his books. I found Garp a stunning read with its mixture of comedy and tragedy shared by a group of memorable characters. In facing A Widow For One Year my hope was that the magic of Garp would remain.

The novel is divided into three parts covering the years 1958
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Tory
I saw a trailer for the film based on this book, and decided I should read it again before seeing it. I love LOVE John Irving. I love what his mind comes up with. There are very few books that I am willing to re-read, but John Irving’s books are some of the few.

I was looking at the reviews on Amazon and a lot of people were getting down on the book. Because it “wasn’t realistic” - “just didn’t ring true” Fiction, people. Do we understand the concept? It’s NOT true. It’s a story, that someone wro
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Jessica
I read this book years ago, and I also saw the movie. Sadly, I'm seeing the actors faces now as I listen to this book. I'm re-reading (listening) because my fiance just finished it and he loved it so much. I realized I'd forgotten everything, or added Irving elements to the story that don't exist. So in I go again. Will send details from the field.....


So I finally finished this book, and Irving truly is amazing. I love watching him work. There are threads in this novel I thought he'd dropped ent
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Glenda Ricord
I really liked this book. You either like John Irving or you hate him. I happen to like his style of writing. It makes me feel I am actually in the locale of the book watching everything that goes on.

I really loved the character of Ruth. I thought she was an extremely strong individual and I admired her. The fact that she continually denied that her novels were autobiographical was humorous to me since they were so obviously so.

I would recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a lot of de
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Robert Day
When we lose someone to death, we're on the other side of a divide that neither party can cross.

We see things from the side of the living. We see pictures we have taken of their laughter and their tears. We hang their pictures on the wall and they speak to us, as we pass, of better times.

The illustration on the front cover of my edition of this book shows a little picture hook, of the kind that you would see on a wall where a picture has been removed.

To lose a child, and then lose the memories o
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Books Ring Mah Bell
Not the best Irving.

Just in case you were curious, Ruth has GREAT BREASTS! AMAZING JUGS! WONDERFUL TITTIES!!!!!

Yee-haw for knockers!
Allison
Way more quirky and twisting plot than I expected, but thoroughly enjoyable story.
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John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving’s fourth novel and his first international bestseller; it also became a George Roy Hill film. Tony Richardson wrote and directed the adaptation for the screen of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). Irving’s novels are now translated into thirty ...more
More about John Irving...
A Prayer for Owen Meany The World According to Garp The Cider House Rules The Hotel New Hampshire The Fourth Hand

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“…the consequences of sex are often more memorable than the act itself.” 88 likes
“All his life he would hold this moment as exemplary of what love was. It was not wanting anything more, nor was it expecting people to exceed what they had just accomplished; it was simply feeling so complete.” 61 likes
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