A Widow for One Year
Irving's latest novel dives headlong into family dysfunction in an emotional tour-de-force that rivals The World According to Garp in literary brilliance. The novel is divided into three seminal parts of Ruth Cole's life. As a 4-year-old in 1958, she walks in on her mother (who, after the death of her two beloved teenage sons, refuses to let herself get close to her daughter) in bed with her father's 16-year-old assistant. Meanwhile, her father, a boozy children's book writer and illustrator, spends much of his time seducing women who are mired in miserable marriages. Jump ahead 30 or so years, and Ruth Cole has found great success as a literary novelist but has had little luck with men. The third segment focuses on Ruth in the mid-1990s, when she's ready to let herself fall in love. Finally, Irving has delivered the follow-up we've been waiting for since he wowed us with Garp 20 years ago.