A Widow for One Year
Random House, $27.95
Marion is not just Eddie's "Mrs. Robinson" -- he is in love with her, heart and soul. The section ends with Marion making a decision about her relationships with Ruth, Ted, and Eddie that impacts them for the rest of the novel.
The second and longest section of the book takes place 32 years later when Ruth has grown up to become a very successful novelist, Ted is a 77-year-old seducer of younger women, and Eddie is also a novelist whose book plots all relate to a younger man/older woman syndrome. Ruth's group of confidants is rounded out by her editor Alan and her bed-hopping best friend Hannah.
The final section of the story jumps ahead five years to reveal what has happened to our characters, including the fate of Ruth's mother.
In reading "A Widow For One Year" I felt like a voyeur. Irving brings these characters so fully to life that I felt like I was intruding on people's lives, peeking in their window. Consider Irving's description of Eddie's father after a stroke:
"Since his third stroke, Minty's fuzzy slippers were held to his unfeeling feet with rubber bands; they squeaked on the floor under his flattened insteps. The slippers, which were pink, had belonged to Eddie's mom, because Minty's feet had shrunk to the degree that his own slippers could not be kept on his feet -- not even with rubber bands."
This concise paragraph brings to life the touching reality that all of us with aging parents must face.
As in the past, when tragic events happen to John Irving characters there is seldom any warning. Just like life.
I almost wanted to stop reading and let these "real" people live out their lives without my prying eyes ... Almost.
Jim Argendeli is an avid reader and book collector who lives with his wife in Georgia.
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