A Widow for One Year covers thirty-seven years in the life of Ruth Cole, a renowned novelist. Divided into three parts, the novel focuses first on the parents of four-year-old Ruth. Because of the deaths of their teenaged sons, Marion and Ted are a dysfunctional couple living apart but sharing custody of their young daughter.
Ted, a seducer of young mothers who pose for him, hires Eddie, a sixteen-year-old aspiring writer, as a chauffeur. An affair between Marion and Eddie ensues and continues throughout the summer. Finally, Marion leaves and is not heard from for thirty-seven years. Before departing, Marion confesses to Eddie, “I won’t be a bad mother to Ruth. . . . I would rather be no mother than a bad one.”
Ruth’s story continues thirty years later. She is a highly successful novelist, and her personal life revolves around her best friend, Hannah, a journalist; her childhood acquaintance Eddie; her father; and a few unsatisfying affairs. While researching an idea for a new novel, Ruth witnesses the brutal murder of a prostitute in Amsterdam. Anonymously, she sends an eyewitness account of the event to Harry, a Dutch policeman.
Ted commits suicide in his squash court, which has “a door in the floor.” (In 2004, a film by this name depicted the triangle of Marion, Ted, and Eddie.)
After the death of her first husband, Ruth returns to her book tours and meets, falls in love with,...
(The entire section is 519 words.)