John Irving''s A Widow For One Year is the epic story of a family, dysfunctional at best, unable to cope with tragedy--or with each other. The unabridged audiobook, narrated by George Guidall (The Cat Who Sang for the Birds, The Inner Sanctum, The Legacy) draws the listener in with a crisp, methodical vocal presentation. Guidall portrays each character with a convincingly distinct voice, accurately impersonating the characters'' intonations and verbal habits. The interaction between characters is both conversational and believable.
We first meet Ruth Cole in the summer of 1958 when she walks in on her mother having sex with 16-year-old Eddie O''Hare, the assistant to Ruth''s alcoholic father. The death of Ruth''s older brothers (years before she was born) turns her mother, Marion, into a zombie who is unable to love her surviving daughter. Ted Cole is a semisuccessful writer and illustrator of disturbingly creepy children''s novels. His womanizing habits prove he''s "as deceitful as a damaged condom," but he remains the only stable figure in Ruth''s life. The tempestuous tale fast-forwards to the year 1990 when Ruth''s soaring writing career is faring far better than her lackluster love life. The final segment of the novel ends in 1995 when 41-year-old Ruth is ready to fall in love for the first time.
This profoundly absorbing story expresses the depths of misery and the healing power of love. Irving writes as a true storyteller, and Guidall executes the narrative with vigor and enthusiasm. (Running time: 24.5 hours, 14 cassettes) --Gina Kaysen
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 crucial 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 in the fall of 1990, when Ruth 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.
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