TBT Book Review: A Widow for One Year by John Irving

June 8, 2017 Book Club 13

TBT Book Review: A Widow for One Year by John IrvingA Widow for One Year by John Irving
Published by Ballantine Books on June 1st 2004
Pages: 576

Richly comic as well as deeply disturbing, this 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.


My Thoughts Now:

I’m a little sad as I do not remember this one at all. I read it in 2012 and I did read a LOT of books that year but I thought this one would stay with me. There are some scenes that I remember very well but most are gone. I read the synopsis and my review and I remember mostly none of this. I also have not read another John Irving since and I really meant to so that’s a little sad but really there are just too many great writers in this world! Definitely not something to complain about.

So, looking back, it seems it didn’t stick with me as much as I thought it would but of all the books that I would prefer to re-read, this would be on that list.


My thoughts Then:

My very first book club book! And I’m super excited because honestly I may never have picked this one up. I enjoyed it quite a bit and although I do like John Irving’s eccentric style of writing I’ll have to read another of his books to see if I’m a new fan or not. So far though, so good.

A Widow for One Year was an interesting story. And I’m not saying that in a ok, that was weird kind of way. It was good, really good. Kind of convoluted at times but still overall John Irving was able to bring every aspect of the book together at the end. And there were a LOT of different ends to tie up.

I enjoyed Ruth’s relationship with Eddie. Actually, I really liked all of the characters, even the abused and really messed up Marion. She helped the book move along even though she wasn’t really a part of it for 95 percent! Everyone’s lives were still centered around her even with her gone. In each important event Ruth waits to see if her mother will show up, waits to know if her mother will ever explain why. Until one day when Ruth understands because of something terrible that happens to Ruth. Death is the changer of everyone and we can not judge how one person or the other will grieve. But that is not all this book is about, it’s about finding love in the most difficult of times and really being able to lay it all on the table with that person. It’s an amazing thing that can never be replaced no matter how each character in this novel tried.

Although this was a long read and a bit slow at times I do recommend it. It’s a bit of a mystery, a bit of romance and a bit of fun!




13 Responses to “TBT Book Review: A Widow for One Year by John Irving”

  1. TheRewildWest

    Finally got a chance to read your whole review/thoughts on the book. I like what you had to say. I don’t remember the book TOO well, but i LOVE the scene where the gardener is hanging upside down breathing the exhaust fumes from the nearby car, that was really funny. And one of the last scenes, maybe the last scene, when ______ returns (don’t want to spoil for people who haven’t read it)….it’s just so beautiful, Eddie, how he never stopped. You know what I’m hinting at šŸ˜‰ It was so strange and sweet.

    • novareylin

      It really was interesting! The poor gardener!!! I would have been ticked but he was so gracious. The end was my favorite part. I’m a big crier for stuff like this and I was balling! But John Irving did it so perfectly. There could be no other ending for this book. Ever. Period. Can’t say that about many books out there! But yes, now is the hunt for the next one from him. I’m not entirely sure which to pick up and it seems that you love them all! That’s a good sign. šŸ˜€

      • TheRewildWest

        I’ll be honest with you, I don’t LOVE them all, some I don’t even like very much, one I couldn’t even finish. I started his newest, In One Person, a couple days ago, so this’ll be my 14the Irving book read! I could tell you the ones you’ll definitely want to stay away from as an early Irving reader, or you could just take my top 3 recs and see which one sounds most interesting…lemme know, I’m happy to give advice, especially when it comes to my favorite novelist! šŸ˜‰

        • novareylin

          Let’s try top three! I’m always willing to dive right in so… And besides reading new (to me anyhow) authors always makes me feel like I’m being invited into a secret club! It’s John Irving Club Time!

          • TheRewildWest

            Sounds fun! I’ll play. Top 3 recs for a reader new to Irving, of course in my (not-so-)humble opinion:

            1) Hotel New Hampshire
            2) World Acc. to Garp
            3) Cider House Rules


  2. TheRewildWest

    Although I have to reiterate that, as I said in my post, Cider House Rules is his most important book. BUT it’s not as accessible to a newer Irving fan–a little more dense, a little slower-moving than those other two.

    • novareylin

      I will see which I can get first! šŸ˜€

      Thank you so much. He is an intense but very interesting writer. I’m really looking forward to reading more from him.

      • TheRewildWest

        It gets waaaaaay more intense than Widow For One Year. That’s tame compared to Garp, Until I Find You (also brilliant), Hotel NH, Owen Meany, Cider House…

        • novareylin

          I can deal with intense šŸ˜€ Widow for One Year didn’t even phase me. Although I really wanted Ruth to get up and kick some serious behind. I’m going to hit my library this weekend and see what I can come up with. Worst case scenario I may be able to order a book or two and see which comes in first!