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Carthage [Paperback]

Joyce Carol Oates
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

23 Oct 2014

A young girl’s disappearance rocks a community and a family, in this stirring examination of grief, faith, justice and the atrocities of war, from literary legend Joyce Carol Oates.

Zeno Mayfield’s daughter has gone missing in the wilds of the Adirondacks. But when the community of Carthage joins a father’s frantic search for the girl, they discover instead the unlikeliest of suspects – a decorated Iraq veteran with close ties to the Mayfield family. As grisly evidence mounts against the troubled war hero, the family must wrestle with the possibility of having lost a daughter forever.

‘Carthage’ plunges us deep into the psyche of a wounded young Corporal, haunted by unspeakable acts of wartime aggression, while unraveling the story of a disaffected young girl whose exile from her family may have come long before her disappearance.

Delving further into territory explored in ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Lovely Bones’, the dark and riveting, ‘Carthage’ is a powerful addition to the Joyce Carol Oates canon, one that explores the human capacity for violence, love and forgiveness, and asks it it’s ever truly possible to come home again.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (23 Oct 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0007485751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007485758
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,043,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including 'We Were the Mulvaneys', which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and 'Blonde', which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.

Product Description


‘The ever-prolific Joyce Carol Oates is at the top of her game in this suspense-filled thriller … about guilt, punishment and forgiveness’ Financial Times

‘A substantial book that deals with truths of the type that we often do not want to confront … Oates is an ambitious writer of huge confidence … The characters … are brilliantly drawn … but what keeps you going is the writing … Oates writes about America’s big themes. Her prose is elegant. She is the mistress of all she surveys’ The Times

‘”Carthage” is not just the suspense thriller it had seemed at first sight … what it attains is a profound and poignant vision of American guilt, and its potential for some kind of absolution’ John Burnside, Guardian

‘A gripping exploration of a community in crisis after a young girl disappears’ Stella Magazine, Sunday Telegraph

‘The prolific Joyce Carol Oates is back doing what she does best – exposing the darkness of the human heart' Good Housekeeping

‘Joyce Carol Oates is … a rare example of a prolific author who has managed to maintain her reputation as a serious literary novelist … “Carthage” is an immensely proficient novel, with careful and elegant prose, and interesting experiments with form … an intriguing and unpredictable read. Oates succeeds in portraying the complex damage done to the fabric of a society by war – no matter how far away it is’ Frances Perraudin, Observer

‘Her characters are created with a Dickensian sharpness of detail, and their relationships with one another are often involving; her language is rough-hewn and lovely; her plots are suspenseful and artfully made … Her new novel is her most substantial in some time’ Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including ‘We Were the Mulvaneys’, which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and ‘Blonde’, which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed. Reviews shown are from other formats of this item.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unremittingly gloomy.... 7 Feb 2014
The well-heeled Mayfield family is devastated by the disappearance of nineteen-year-old Cressida. Everything points to her abduction and possible rape and murder although the body eludes all searches.

The culprit seems to be Brett Kincaid – a young veteran of the Iraq War who has returned home physically and mentally damaged. Until recently he was the fiancé of Juliet, Cressida’s older sister. The book portrays well the destruction of the family following Cressida’s disappearance – the descent into despair and blame. Brett’s mother is a harsh portrait of a woman sunk into bitterness and loathing. The description of post-traumatic stress disorder was well documented, as was the way in which young men are destroyed by war – not just physically and emotionally but morally.

I found this a pretty gripping read inasmuch as I really wanted to know what happened and how it would all end. I was less enamoured by the sheer length. The 482 pages could well have been easily pruned without losing anything from the storytelling or atmosphere. Many scenes were replayed over and over again and I was left with the thought that perhaps the author did not trust the reader to comprehend what she was trying to tell us.

I am being careful not to give away important plot points but I have to say that I found the character of Cressida very unsatisfactory. I wonder why she was depicted as so unpleasant and unsympathetic. She plainly had “emotional issues” but is just downright rude and spiteful and as a result many of her actions did not ring true.

An unremittingly gloomy look into the dark heart of America.

(Dithered about the star rating - 3.5 might have been appropriate)
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1.0 out of 5 stars Story ok, writing appaling! 1 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as it was receommended on several sites as one to read. Generally I would agree with the reviews however this time I was very disappointed. The story itself is not bad, however the way it is written is annoying and disjointed. I only persevered because I wanted to see what happened and when I did get to the end it was very disappointing. I would not recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 28 Mar 2014
By Lisa
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This author is a favourite of mine, and I always look out for a new book. Such unusual writing...I loved it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where others fear to tread! 8 Mar 2014
By lovemurakami TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
The difference between a writer and a great writer is that the latter will produce a piece of work which is at once engaging, it may provoke you as well as endeavour to make you consider viewpoints which you may not agree with. Throughout her long and varied career, Joyce Carol Oates has produced fiction and non-fiction which are frequently not ‘easy’ reads, they will challenge you, making you question your moral codes and often offer alternatives which you may struggle with. She never shies away from controversy which is what makes her work so exciting to read.

With Carthage, she has once again created a work of fiction which delves deep into the dark side of American society, looking at the effects of its’ war on terror has had on individuals and communities. Readers of Oates are well aware of her mastery of the ‘psychological’ thriller, and in Carthage she once gives us a master class in the genre but also produces a highly readable, intense work of fiction. The novel centres around the disappearance of Cressida Mayfield, the daughter of the former mayor of Carthage, she was last seen with her sister’s ex-fiancé, Corporal Brett Kincaid, a veteran of the Iraq war who has suffered huge trauma to both his mind and body. As the story unfolds, we witness the impact of her disappearance on those involved, how there is a blurring of what is truth and what is not, and how we as human beings attempt to overcome tragedy turning to places and people we would never usually contemplate.

This is not just a ‘psychological’ thriller, it is an examination of war and its effects upon our psyche, it is also a condemnation of the American justice system and at it’s heart is the disintegration of a person’s or persons’ inner core.
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