A Widow for One Year

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“When she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole woke to the sound of lovemaking—it was coming from her parents’ bedroom.” This sentence opens John Irving’s ninth novel, a story of a family marked by tragedy. Ruth Cole is a complex, often self-contradictory character—a “difficult” woman.

The 158-Pound Marriage

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The darker vision and sexual ambiguities of this erotic, ironic tale about a ménage a quatre in a New England university town foreshadow those of The World According to Garp; but this very trim and precise novel is a marked departure from the author’s generally robust, boisterous style.