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'One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole awoke to the sound of lovemaking - it was coming from her parents' bedroom'. This is the story of Ruth Cole. It is told in three parts: on Long Island, in the summer of 1958, when she is only four; in 1990, when she is an unmarried woman whose personal life is not nearly as successful as her literary career; and, in the autumn of 1995, when Ruth Cole is a forty-one-year-old widow and mother. She's also about to fall in love for the first time...

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780552997966
ISBN-10: 055299796X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 127mm x 35mm)
Pages: 656
Imprint: Black Swan
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 13-Mar-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Very few novels have ever made me cry. Irving's The World According to Garp was one. Now, 20 years later, he scores again on my emotional map. Widow is a book to reassure: Dickensian in scope, hilarious on one page, heartbreaking just a few pages later, sexy all the way through, it winds its way through the lives of its oh-so-fallible characters like a devious serpent, slow, languorous in its rhythm, ever ready to bite ferociously at the first opportunity. It's about characters who are all somehow writers (and one brave, lone Dutch policeman), about motherhood, love lost, regained and never forgotten, loyalty and betrayal, the intransigent demands of the heart and the soul. In one word, it's about life. And all its damning contradictions. Like all the best novels, it will stay with you for a long time, seeding your mind with questions and truly unforgettable images, every description a joy or a heartbreak. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Irving's latest LBM (Loose Baggy Monster, that is), which portrays with seriocomic gusto the literary life and its impact on both writers and their families, is simultaneously one of his most intriguing hooks and one of his most self-indulgent and flaccid. Though it's primarily the story of successful novelist Ruth Cole, the lengthy foreground, set in Sagaponack, Long Island, in 1958, is dominated by Ruth's parents, Ted and Marion, both minor novelists (though Ted later becomes rich and famous as a writer and illustrator of children's stories), both mourning the deaths of their two teenaged sons in an automobile accident. Ted copes by seducing younger (often married) women; Marion, by bearing a daughter (Ruth) whom she'll later abandon following her affair with 16-year-old Eddie O'Hare, a prep-school student hired by Ted as a "writer's assistant." Later sections, set in 1990 and 1995, dwell melodramatically on Ruth's painstaking progress toward romantic happiness (including a European book tour that involves her with a prostitutes'-rights organization) and the lingering effects of their adolescent affair on Eddie, who's now a middle-aged novelist and "perpetual visiting writer-in-residence" with a lifelong passion for older women. A grieving widow, offended by one of Ruth's novels, pronounces a curse on her. Eddie accidentally learns that the fugitive Marion is living in Canada, writing detective novels (by now the bemused reader may have anticipated the question later put to Ruth: "Is everyone you know a writer?"). The story moves sluggishly, and overindulges both Irving's (Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, 1996, etc.) love of intricate Victorian plots and his literary likes and dislikes. On the other hand, his characters are vividly imagined, insistent presences who get under your skin and stay with you. A thoughtful, if diffuse, examination of how writers make art of their lives and loves without otherwise benefitting from the process. The borderline-tearful ending is a bit much, but at least there aren't any bears. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - John Irving

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. He also received an O. Henry Award in 1981 for the short story 'Interior Space'. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the 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. His most recent novel is Last Night in Twisted River.

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