A Widow for One Year by John Irving

1024 Words Feb 26th, 2018 4 Pages
It is a brilliant novel about the passage of time, the persistence of grief, and the loss of innocence that occurs over time, which is why it would be a great fit for the American Literature curriculum. The Cole family stands out as a paradigm of dysfunction. Ted and Marian Cole, Ruth’s parents, never recovered from the deaths of their two sons, Timothy and Thomas, leaving them weary and broken. Their instability laid the groundwork for a life full of infidelity and a dysfunctional family situation.

The novel is set in the mid to late 20th-century. It is full of bizarre coincidences, multiple plot lines, lengthy deviations, and stories within stories, quite like A Visit from the Goon Squad. Although it is set up in chronological order, the reader is exposed to various stories from three set periods in the life of the main character, Ruth Cole. The story begins in childhood and ends in womanhood, taking us through the transitions of Ruth’s life. The novel begins in the summer of 1958, on Long Island when Ruth is only four years old. In the first line of the novel, Ruth has a piece of her innocence stripped from her when she walks in to find her mother in bed with her lover. The narrative states that “There are few things as seemingly untouched by the real world as a child asleep” (151). Although she has seen what no child should see at her age, she is still…
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