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A Widow for One Year Paperback – March 23, 1999
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"Cometh the Hour" by Jeffrey Archer
Cometh the Hour is the penultimate book in the Clifton Chronicles and, like the five previous novels - all of which hit the New York Times bestseller list - showcases Jeffrey Archer's extraordinary storytelling with his trademark twists. Learn more | See author page
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Eddie spends the rest of his life obsessively writing novels like Sixty Times, his roman à clef about his 60 seductions by Marion. Ted is a failed novelist who gets rich and famous writing creepy children's stories based on tales he tells Ruth (such as The Mouse Crawling Between the Walls). Marion abandons Ruth, Ted, and Eddie and becomes a successful pseudonymous novelist. And Ruth becomes the most richly celebrated writer of them all because of her early training by Ted, who not only told her stories, but also helped her craft narratives to explain their home's many photographs of her brothers, who died in a gory car wreck the year before she was born. Grief over the boys is why Ruth's mother does not dare to love her.
Ruth, Irving's first female main character, works brilliantly, first as an imaginative, almost Salingeresque child coming to terms with her bewildering family, then as a grownup striving to understand her mother's motives--or at least to track her down. Ted is a mordantly funny caricature, interestingly sinister and plausibly self-justifying when most inexcusable. Eddie is a lovable schlemiel, yet not too sentimentally drawn. And what set pieces Irving can write! The story of the boys' death is horrific and effective in dramatizing the character of Ted, who narrates it. Ted's attempted murder by a spurned lover is as hilarious as the VW-down-the-marble-stairway scene in A Prayer for Owen Meany (which has been adapted by Disney Studios), though not quite on a par with the celebrated "Pension Grillparzer" episode in The World According to Garp (reissued in a 20th anniversary edition by Modern Library).
Irving has the effrontery to get away with practically any scene that comes into his head--Ruth winds up an eyewitness to a hooker's murder in Amsterdam, a Dutch detective starts tracking her down (just as Ruth is hunting Marion), and the multiple plot strands all converge in a finale that neatly echoes the opening scene. It's all done with the outrageously coincidental yet minutely realistic brio of Charles Dickens, with a sad, self-conscious jokiness like that of Irving's mentor, Kurt Vonnegut. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
-?Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch., Los Angeles
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
For more information about the author, please visit www.john-irving.com
Top Customer Reviews
The story begins in the summer of 1958 on Long Island. Sixteen year old Eddie O'Hare takes a job working an assistant in the home of children's author/illustrator Ted Cole. It's a sad household with Ted and his wife, Marion, struggling to cope with the deaths of their two teenage sons years earlier. Marion is especially depressed and is unable to show any affection towards their young daughter, Ruth. She's also obsessed with the many pictures of her late sons that hang throughout the house. Ted dotes on Ruth, but is a flagrant womanizer, using his celebrity to attract mothers and their daughters into his studio to "pose" for him. Things become even more complicated when Marion has an affair with young Eddie.
Were the story to remain focused on the odd triangle of Marion, Ted and Eddie, it would stand alone as one of Irving's best novels. The relationships are complex and engaging, and Marion's inability to move on after the deaths of her sons is heart wrenching. Irving, however, chooses to make "A Widow for One Year" Ruth's story, following her into adulthood where she becomes successful as an author (as does Eddie on a smaller scale), but mostly unsuccessful in her personal relationships.Read more ›
Essentially the themes of the novel are grief and sex, not necessarily in that order. The novel begins with 4 year old Ruth Cole walking in on her mother, who is in bed with a teenage writer's assistant hired by her estranged husband Ted, a writer of cildren's books. The mother, Marion, is overwhelmed with grief from the loss of her teenage sons in a car accident that predated the action in the novel, and Irving skillfully fills in a few details about the crash for much of the book, until Ted describes the accident in devastating detail later.
The grief affects Ted and Marion in different ways, and while he goes on with his life and continues writing children's horror stories, Marion simply cannot handle life in the house she shared with her boys. Some of the most effective passages in the novel concern the multitude of framed photographs taken of the late Cole boys scattered on the walls of their house in the Hamptons, and the efforts of sister little Ruth, (who was born after her brothers' death), to reimagine the shots after they are removed by her mom.
Marion ultimately becomes a strangely unsympathetic character, and her forced reappearance toward the end of the novel seems forced and contrived.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great Author, well written and good character development. I would read more of his works.Published 13 days ago by Denise Barger
Devolved into a Jennifer Weiner-like novel after the first third.Published 1 month ago by Karen Lansing
I loved this book. It was funny and sad. It seemed strange or different but that was what made it so good. There was a lot to do with sex but he did it all in s brilliant way. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Madeleine Bucci
Not sure that the story was worth telling and although I do enjoy commedy this at times slipped into slap stick.Published 3 months ago by mikesanders
I appreciate it more as I think back on it; it was a good companion on a long trip.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer