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A Widow's Story: A Memoir | [Joyce Carol Oates]

A Widow's Story: A Memoir

In a work unlike anything she's written before, National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates unveils a poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of her husband of 46 years and its wrenching, surprising aftermath.
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Publisher's Summary

In a work unlike anything she's written before, National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates unveils a poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of her husband of 46 years and its wrenching, surprising aftermath.

"My husband died, my life collapsed." On a February morning in 2008, Joyce Carol Oates drove her ailing husband, Raymond Smith, to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Both Joyce and Ray expected him to be released in a day or two. But in less than a week, even as Joyce was preparing for his discharge, Ray died from a virulent hospital-acquired infection, and Joyce was suddenly faced - totally unprepared - with the stunning reality of widowhood.

A Widow's Story illuminates one woman's struggle to comprehend a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of "death-duties", and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief - the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous "pools" of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgment of the widow's desperation, only gradually yielding to the recognition that "this is my life now."

Enlivened by the piercing vision, acute perception, and mordant humor that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this moving tale of life and death, love and grief, offers a candid, never-before-glimpsed view of the acclaimed author and fiercely private woman.

©2011 The Ontario Review, Inc. (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (150 )
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  •  
    Jane Buchan GREENSBORO BEND, VT, US 02-05-15
    Jane Buchan GREENSBORO BEND, VT, US 02-05-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Courageous, Entirely Present to the Pain of Loss"
    Where does A Widow's Story rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is among the best because of JC Oates magnificent prose and the sensitivity of Ellen Parker's narration. Unlike narrators who take performance to a camp level, Parker gives voice to Oates's story with a quiet tenderness that takes me into the grief of this great artist.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Widow's Story?

    Throughout this story I am constantly struck by Oates's openness about the transformation Ray Smith's death forced upon her. She is, from beginning to end, entirely vulnerable, perhaps most poignantly when allowing her readers a glimpse of the manic attempt to escape from death's possibility in compulsive cleaning. Before reading A Widow's Story, I thought of Joyce Carol Oates as one of America's great writers; now, as well as admiring her prose and her vast reservoir of energy, knowledge, and wisdom, I claim her as a newly discovered sister, especially when I contemplate the possibility of my own widowhood.


    Which character – as performed by Ellen Parker – was your favorite?

    Ellen Parker's rendering of this highly personal memoir is always in keeping with Oates's emotionally searing journey into mourning. She is the consummate narrator, keeping herself in the background and Oates's memoir up front.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The Beating Heart of Lost Love


    Any additional comments?

    Oates and Parker have formed a truly beautiful partnership in A Widow's Story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joanne 06-04-14
    joanne 06-04-14
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    "sad and dull"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I think someone who is already a widow or has experienced the loss of a loved one, would like this book......I really thought it might give me more of a feeling of appreciation for my family and husband while they are still healthy and happy. Not! It was just really boring....


    What could Joyce Carol Oates have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Nothing, it was just a bad choice on my part. Someone who has experienced loss may enjoy this book.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ellen Parker?

    Ellen Parker was not the person to read this book. I could not even try to enjoy this book with Ellen reading it....Maybe Jane Fonda or Kim Cattrall


    Any additional comments?

    If the person reading this book had done a better job I think the book may have been a bit more interesting...Maybe a paperback would work better..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joy Hamilton, Bermuda 05-10-14
    Joy Hamilton, Bermuda 05-10-14 Member Since 2011

    issano

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    "Shocking and brutally true"

    I was so disturbed by this haunting story of a woman suddenly left alone that I could not put it down and then could not sleep at the horror of the prospect of losing someone that you love.
    Beautifully written, a book that is life changing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SunnyN199 Pennyslvania 04-17-14
    SunnyN199 Pennyslvania 04-17-14 Member Since 2014

    A librophile who writes... and, of course, reads...

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    "Thought Provoking"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this to someone who has lost a significant other. The author has gotten shared her most honest inner feelings of suddenly finding herself in widowhood.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Widow's Story?

    There are several. How she dealt with her initial sudden loss and also her trying to adjust her life with others.


    What about Ellen Parker’s performance did you like?

    The reader's performance was wonderful! I looked for more books done by her but there doesn't seem to be any at the moment. I really enjoyed her!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely not! I listened to this in the evening. It was a special treat to myself and I wanted to savour every chapter! Not a page turner mystery but a commiserating of events in my life with Ms. Oates.


    Any additional comments?

    Great read for me and highly recommend to those who are dealing with loss of a husband.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie California 02-20-13
    Connie California 02-20-13

    Connie

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    "A stunning portrayal"

    I am a Joyce Carol Oates fan. This book tells her own story of being widowed, the shock and grief, the acknowledgment, the beginning of moving on. It described their marriage which I found fascinating - deeply satisfying while reserved in a way. I found it deeply moving. So often grief is underplayed. This account is touching in its truth.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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