A Widow for One Year, John Irving

I just finished reading this for the second time and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was given it by a friend back in 1999 as I departed for Sochi, Russia. I read it whilst I was there and, if I remember correctly, it was my first John Irving novel. (I’ve since read The World According to Garp and The Fourth Hand).

The story is about a writer, who gets a job with a writer as a writer’s assistant and falls in love with the writer’s wife (who, later, becomes a writer). The husband and wife have a four-year-old daughter, Ruth, who… yep, you guessed it, becomes a writer. Ruth writes books about a writer. But seriously though, it’s a serious book about love and relationships. It’s contains a lot of sadness but there’s a thread of humour that runs throughout. The way Irving deals with characters and their relationships really draws you in. I like his novels for reading on holiday as they’re not that demanding but they draw you right in and, to use the cliché, are hard to put down. This book seems superficial on the surface, but really it’s quite deep and it stays with you. I’m afflicted with a terrible memory (which is why I can enjoy rereading novels so much) but I did remember a few things about this book, particularly about how the two brothers were killed. (They die before the novel beings and their presence is felt throughout the entire first part). I would highly recommend this for reading on the plane or bus or boat, or sat by the pool somewhere away from it all. But wherever, it’s a great read.