A Widow for One Year

Rating: +

John Irving

It's hard to say what this book is about plot-wise. It starts off being about a 16 year old boy who goes to work as a writer's assistant for a children's book author. This involves him living with this writer and his family (wife and 4 year old daughter). The boy has an affair with the wife, but that's par for the rest of this book. We read about that summer, and then learn about the aftermaths of that summer through the rest of the book.

This was too complex a book to say what single thing it was about, theme-wise. It was very tightly constructed and there were many different things that I thought this book was "about" as I read it. Probably the most central theme ends up being the question of what effect people who have left your life have on you after they are gone. This connects to another theme: how does one make the decision that one is ready to enter a relationship with another person?

Despite these uncertainties about what to say about this book, I liked it a lot. I found it to be very engrossing and just plowed right through. The structure is fairly linear; each plot piece follows both logically and chronologically after the previous one. I found the writing non-obtrusive, though I wasn't particularly struck by it. There was lots of attention to small details which was fun. A moderate '+'.


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