A great author who always makes me want to read more of him. Unfortunately, though it could be fortunately, he only publishes once every few years. However, when he does, his books are always worth the wait. Obviously some of his huge successes (Garp, Owen Meany) have made him independent. It gives him plenty of time to do serious research for his books.
In this book, a big part, the essential part actually, is set in the red light district in Amsterdam. Having lived in that city, I wouldn't call myself an expert on that particular area, but I guess I have walked there more often than most of you who might have had an stroll there on a visit to my tiny country. Irving certainly has had more than just a guided tour, his research is on the spot in more than one way.
The story is written from the point of view of a female author. Something I think is always risky. Writing from a different sex is not as easy as it seems, too often the credibility is lost very soon. Irving manages though, he makes it easier by making her an international well-known author, something he must know from experience. It is inevitable that some autobiographical elements are incorporated in the novel.
37 years of her life, three parts over 500 pages. One wouldn't expect any less from Irving. A whole cast of characters who all have their own storylines, sometimes almost independent of the other, but in the end, the storylines always cross paths again. The funny Eddie, forever falling in love with elder women after his short summer affair with Marion, the shallow Hannah, Ted and Allan, all of them serve an important role in Ruth's life. Ruth writes books that seem autobiographical and is a big hit. Eddie's books seem more like a pretend diary of his life. Somehow the trick of having stories by his characters incorporated in his books always works well for Irving, at least it never bothers me.
For me it is one more novel to go and I am back up to scratch. For those who haven't read this one yet. Do so soon.