A Widow For One Year Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Widow For One Year

Ruth Cole is a little girl when the first section of this book, set in 1958, opens. Her father is an author world famous for his children's book. But he really doesn't like to write - what he really likes to do is draw. And what he really likes to draw is young mothers, women whom he seduces one after another. Her mother knows about his affairs - which obviously anger her. Still, she is preoccupied with the couple's two sons, who were killed several years earlier in a car accident. In the summer of 1958, Ted Cole hires Eddie, a boy of fifteen, to be his assistant. As it turns out, he really wants the boy to sleep with Marion. Marion and Eddie do in fact begin an affair which will have ramifications Ted never thought of - Marion ends up leaving Ted, Ruth, and Eddie at the end of the summer.
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The second section of the book is set in 1990. Marion has now been missing for more than thirty years. By this time, Ruth has grown up and become a famous author in her own right. By chance, she meets Eddie, whom she knows was her mother's lover. She is thinking of marrying her editor when she goes on a book-signing tour to Amsterdam where she witnesses a gruesome crime, in the city's Red Light district.

The third section of this book, which takes part in 1995, brings all the elements of this story together.
The review of this Book prepared by Ann Gaines

Ruth at age of 4 is deserted by her mother who has never gotten over the deaths of Ruth's older brothers. Ruth is raised by her father successfully. Ruth become a writer just as her father was. Ruth gets married and her mother doesn't show up. Ruth runs into an old lover of her mother's, Eddie, who tells Ruth about her mother. Eddie is also a writer and has never gotten over his love for Ruth's mother. He sends his books to Ruth's mother who then comes back into Eddie's and Ruth's lives.
The review of this Book prepared by Liz Pursley

It is the late 1950's and Eddie is in love with Marion Cole, the wife of the writer Ted Cole, whom Eddie is working for. Cole's marriage is falling apart due to Ted's philandering and Marion's obsession with her two dead sons. She is so obsessed by their memory that she can't bring herself to take care of her four year old daughter, Ruth, and one day just walks out and disappears from all their lives for good. For years and years after, Eddie and Ruth, and to a point, Ted, suffer the consequences of Marion's abandonment. A Widow for One Year proves once again that John Irving is America's premier storyteller. The book is a finely woven tale of tragedy and comedy, perfectly detailed and utterly unforgettable.
The review of this Book prepared by Darina Milovanovich

A Widow For One Year, tells the life of Ruth and her relationships with her father, who raised her alone, after her mother "disappeared," and Eddie, the man who was hopelessly in love with her mother.
The review of this Book prepared by Amanda

Chapter Analysis of A Widow For One Year

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   upbeat Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999    -   1960's-1970's Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   rekindling lost love/marriage Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Father (or standin) Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Something wrong upstairs/downstairs?    -   searching for identity/meaning Parents/lack of parents problem?    -   Momma gone Taboo sex story?    -   Yes Lover is    -   much younger/older

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   writer Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Europe    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   actual description of hetero sex    -   Boob talk! Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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John Irving Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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