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A Widow For One Year Paperback – 1 Jun 1999


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A Widow For One Year + The World According To Garp (Black Swan) + A Prayer For Owen Meany
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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 Jun 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055299796X
  • ISBN-13: 978-8171671021
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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. In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won an 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.

(Photo credit: Everett Irving)

Product Description

Review

"Wickedly knowing, mischievously post-modern and magical realist along the lines of Gunter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Robertson Davies" (Time Out)

"Gripping, full of horror and humour" (Literary Review)

"A compelling chronicle of love and loss... His most intricate and fully imagined novel" (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Irving's storytelling has never been better" (New York Times)

"His best since Garp" (Time)

"Irving's most entertaining and persuasive novel since The World According to Garp" (The New York Times)

"A joy to read" (Evening Standard)

Book Description

A masterpiece from one of the great contemporary American writers.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By O. Ahmed on 30 Sep 2002
Format: Paperback
Having not read a John Irving novel since The Cider House Rules, I wasn't sure I could reacquire the taste for his methods of storytelling. By the very first page of A Widow For One Year, however, I was hooked. This book has the usual Irving mixture of tragedy, comedy, romance, and, of course, sex. And yes...I am man enough to admit that by the end of the book I was moved to tears!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Williams TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Nov 2005
Format: Paperback
Forget about magical realism; forget about the exploration of grief and loss, and the complexity of human relationships. This book has an awful lot of sex. No, make that: a lot of awful sex. Still, maybe that's what people like, and maybe that's why so many are prepared to forgive Irving for falling so far below his usual high standard. I think that one reason I found this book disappointing was the the main character was not at all engaging; I didn't really care what happened to Ruth Cole, except in the first part when she was a four year old girl. In fact the first part of the book is by far the best, conjuring up real atmosphere, drama, and at times farce. I was gripped. But then we move on to Ruth's adult life and away from Long Island, and the story starts to fall flat. One thing that annoyed me somewhat was that all of the characters are writers (a bit of navel gazing on Irving's part?), and passages of their writings are embedded here and there in the story. This works well in 'Garp', but not in this book. This book is no 'Garp' and the writers in it are not of Garp's stature. Still, the book gets three stars from me. After all, it is by John Irving. Irving stands head and shoulders above most other novelists, so a mediocre book by his standards is still a good one compared with most other novels. Perhaps I was just expecting too much. Anyway, if you like Irving, you'll probably find this book to be OK. But if you're not into Irving yet, don't start with this one. 'The World according to Garp' or 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' will give you a much more favourable first impression.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. Foley on 6 Jan 2002
Format: Paperback
I've read and enjoyed a few other John Irving books and this book did not disappoint. If you liked 'The World According To Garp' and 'Hotel New Hampshire' you'll love this book. Told in three distinct sections (much like acts of a play), it presents the life of Ruth Cole centrally, but also the many colourful characters who inhabit her world. Although readers will need to suspend their realism for some of the more unlikely coincidences, this in no way takes from the book. And the fact that so many characters in the book are themselves authors, one gets great insight into John Irving's own probably journey with this and his other books. I would highly recommend this novel, a must for John Irving fans and a good start for a first time reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By marie.cooper@ic24.net on 12 Oct 2000
Format: Paperback
If you have never read anything by John Irving before, what have you been doing with your literary life?........do it NOW. However, don't start with "A Widow for One Year".
Saying that, John Irving still creates both complex and sometimes disturbing characters, more so because he enables us to see these parts in ourselves.
He describes fluidly the fear, embarressment yet natural sexuality of a teenage boy who is seduced by the grown woman he lusts after.
He also charmingly describes the obssession a child may have over an item which an adult might take for granted in the way the very young Ruth Cole has over photographs of her brothers.
If you are considering reading your first book by John Irving then try "A prayer for Owen Meany first" because that book can make you laugh out loud one moment and cry on the turn of a page, it is a work of genius.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 July 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the second novel by John Irvin I have read, after the World According to Garp. I found the novel engaging from the beginning. I loved the way he presented the characters, those fantastic characters of the children's story writer, his fascinating wife, and even secondary characters like Mr. Minty. I found the first part flawless, both funny and moving. In my opinion, the novel starts to lose its strength the moment Ruth becomes the main character. Although her diary is very interesting as we are able to observe the process of the creation of a novel from the initial idea that inspires it, I find that Ruth is not a strong enough character to pull the weight of the story, she is not as well defined as other characters, she is very judgemental and I found that I did not manage to empathise with her. The story picks up in the last part, however, it does seem a bit unbelievable...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Katharine Kirby TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Widow For One Year by John Irving.

Simply dedicated `For Janet, a love story' this thumping great fat book covers the lives and loves of the Cole family, their friends and lovers over a period spanning nearly four decades. Satisfying in length and depth with delightful pointers as to what is to come, it is a properly absorbing grown up read. There is some deliciously dicey subject matter that takes you to the edge and beyond of what may be considered decent.

John Irving writes his tale in three sections, Summer 1598, Fall 1990 and Fall 1995, neatly setting out his wares in 51 usefully and aptly named chapters, using a traditional rather child's book like format. Confidently moving from The Hampton's to Europe, we are safe in the hands of the most accomplished story teller. This writer treats his readers with respect, he certainly gives us our money's worth.

Exploring the role and craft of writer, novelist, illustrator; we are parachuted into the complicated, post-disaster, fractured Cole family. Two sons have died in a dreadful accident. `The grief over lost children never dies; it is a grief that relents only a little. And then only a long while.' What a wise author. He successfully pulls off the unusual and intricate device of allowing his characters to speak to each other through their own published works - fleshing out the book with `warts and all' understanding descriptions of their humanly flawed and utterly credible personalities. This family are growing their shells over a tragedy to awful to bear without armour. They each have to rewrite their family history, building their litany of detail through constant repetition, always in their own personal way.
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