A Widow For One Year

Publisher: Vintage Canada

“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 parents’ bedroom.”
This sentence opens John Irving’s ninth novel, A Widow for One Year, a story of a family marked by tragedy.

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 critical 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 on the fall of 1990, when she 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.


Summer 1958
The Inadequate Lamp Shade

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 parents' bedroom. It was a totally unfamiliar sound to her. Ruth had recently been ill with a stomach flu; when she...
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1. A passionate and complex theme throughout the book is the concept of a writer's imagination. "Eddie O'Hare, who was doomed to be only autobiographical in his novels, knew better than to presume that Ruth Cole was writing about herself. He understood from the first time he read her that she was better than...

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A New York Times Notable Book 

"[As] satisfying as one of Shakespeare's romances ... rich in perfect details [and]... miraculous events, the sort that are longed for and cherished, the sort that sustain the imagination when reality becomes too disappointing." The Financial Post

"Full of the antics of scorned lovers and infatuated youth, of madcap chases and boisterous lovemaking.... A faith in patient storytelling and the conviction that narrative hunger is part of our essence." Carol Shields, The Globe and Mail

"Powerful and sophisticated.... A stunning narrative...wonderful, sumptuous, entertaining." The Ottawa Citizen

"[Irving's] storytelling has never been better...engaging and affecting ... old-fashioned and modern all at once." The New York Times

"Irving is at the height of his considerable literary powers. His novels burst with stories, characters, arguments, oddities and images that help us define the world we live in." Playboy