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The Gravedigger's Daughter (P.S.)

The Gravedigger's Daughter (P.S.) [Kindle Edition]

Joyce Carol Oates
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Description


‘Every single Oates novel I’ve read has added to my conviction that she is a genius.’ Julie Myerson, Independent on Sunday

‘One of the female frontrunners for the title of Great American Novelist.' Maggie Gee, Sunday Times

'A writer of extraordinary strengths…she has dealt consistently with what is probably the great American theme – the quest for the creation of self…Her great subject, naturally, is love.' Ian Sansom, Guardian

‘Unlike anything else she has ever written…A very strong and readable novel; the rivalry between the two sisters is especially well observed’ Edmund White, Books of the Year, Times Literary Supplement

'Her prose is peerless and her ability to make you think as she re-invents genres is unique. Few writers move so effortlessly from the gothic tale to the psychological thriller to the epic family saga to the lyrical novella. Even fewer authors can so compellingly and entertainingly tell a story.' Jackie McGlone, Scotland on Sunday

'Novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer slug it out for the title of the Great American Novelist. But maybe they're wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman.' The Herald

Product Description

Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1936, the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York. Here the father—a former high school teacher—is demeaned by the only job he can get: gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. When local prejudice and the family's own emotional frailty give rise to an unthinkable tragedy, the gravedigger's daughter, Rebecca heads out into America. Embarking upon an extraordinary odyssey of erotic risk and ingenious self-invention, she seeks renewal, redemption, and peace—on the road to a bittersweet and distinctly “American” triumph.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 900 KB
  • Print Length: 624 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (13 Oct 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000R3NNA4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #156,530 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "In animal life - 30 Sep 2007
... the weak are quickly disposed of. So you must hide your weakness, Rebecca. We must". This opening statement reflects a father's command to his daughter, setting the stage for her life. Rebecca, heroine of the story and daughter of immigrants, grows up in rural New York State during the Depression and World War II years. Her environment is characterized by abject poverty, discrimination and prejudice against those who are different. Denying their German-Jewish background is part of their tragedy. No German language is allowed in the house, but neither the mother nor the two older brothers manage the adopted language adequately. Violence, alcoholism and crime are part of daily life in the family and those living in their neighbourhood near the graveyard.

Oates skilfully evokes the oppressive atmosphere in which the gravedigger's family eke out a living, literally at the edge of human society. Increasingly, the young Rebecca withdraws into herself, drops out of school and tries to escape and to follow her brothers. A violent family drama that almost kills her and leaves her alone, in the end provides her with the opportunity for a much brighter future. However, is she capable of freeing herself from her background? Can changing her name, as she does a couple of times, change her life for the better? Hope, trust and happiness are emotions and experiences that are new to Rebecca and that will have to be learned. Her son, a child prodigy pianist from a marriage that was supposed to bring love and happiness, provides her with new energy and focus. But she has to escape again and, now completely unsettled, is moving from place to place until she finds an environment that offers hope and security for her son and herself. Will she stay?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical Chairs 17 Nov 2007
Rebecca Schwarts is the gravedigger's daughter. In many ways she is the ultimate Joyce Carol Oates heroine: flawed, cowed by life, the child of hysterically dysfunctional parents, orphaned by a family tragedy yet always hopeful, always wanting a better life, always yearning. Because of all that befalls Rebecca she builds a wall of despair and impotence around her: "All they knew of Rebecca was that she kept to herself. She had a stubborn manner, a certain stiff-backed dignity. She wouldn't take bs from anybody."
Rebecca's father held his family in terror: he lorded over them and kept them ignorant of the outside world: Mr. Schwarts bought a radio one day and rather than share the news of the day with his family (as in WW2) locked himself and the radio in his den. All that Mr. Schwarts' family (wife, daughter, two sons) knew was that Schwarts had escaped an unspeakable life in Germany: "her (Rebecca's) father had been grievously wounded in his soul."
Mr. Schwarts was fearful of the world, despised it even: "They do not know us Rebecca. Not you and not me. Hide your weakness from them and one day we will repay them! Our enemies who mock us."
Schwarts has invested in his daughter with a fear of the world, a wariness of anything "out there."
Somehow a man, Niles Tignor finds Rebecca, who while working as a housekeeper in a hotel and marries her: "Tignor had not asked about her parents and might not have wanted to know more."
Rebecca, always hopeful, always wanting to find someone that she can count on gives her all to her marriage to Tignor: she even has a child. "It was said of Tignor that you never got to know--but what you did know you were impressed by."
Rebecca's marriage to Tignor goes sour ("he (Tignor) could make her come like a dog when he snapped his fingers...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the most depressing books 30 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book has nothing to recommend it. It was depressing and unbelievable. Parts at the beginning were so sexually explicit that I felt I needed to wash after reading it
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange, somewhat really intriguing 9 Jun 2008
I finished this book in a matter of days, not because it was so good I had to keep reading but because I felt it was leading up to a surprising spectacular ending. Unfortunately, I got my hopes up too high with this one!

The first half of the book sees the main character (Rebecca/Hazel) as a child, which I thought was perhaps the best written part of the book - it was very dark but on the other hand was, in my opinion, relatively well written.

I think it started to go downhill a bit as the main character got older. It's difficult to pin point bad and good points because ultimately I felt some parts of the book were very good, but some were dismissavely boring.

As I said before, the ending was a bit of a something of nothing. It could have been made a lot more exciting with a few twists in it. I think the most interesting characters were invented during Rebecca/Hazel's childhood but they were rarely mentioned again and could have been brought into her adulthood more than they were. I think that would have linked the book more together and bound it as a life-story.

I'm glad I read it, because i did enjoy it, however I probably wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly good read :-) 14 Sep 2008
By Skippy
I have spent that last two days reading this book and what a page turner it was. There is no mystery to this book or twist in the tale, but instead a real story about how the life and suffering of Rebecca and her son unfolds. The story is based in America and begins with a Jewish family escaping from Germany prior to WW2 and the impact this has upon their lives, and in particular the main character in the book, Rebecca. Rebecca's life and her journey is described page by page from that of a small child to a woman in her 60's dying from cancer.
This book was recommended by a friend and I would definitely recommend it to others. :-)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and engaging
I read lots of books and although I have a Kindle I must admit to prefering the real thing. A generation thing I guess. Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. Stewart
4.0 out of 5 stars Trying to be the Great American Novel?
An interesting, if overlong text (at 582 pages) with some potent writing, and with Oates' trademark density (in a good way) and depth. Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2011 by ijhodgson
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw but Rivetting
Typical of Oates, this tale of immigrant life and womanhood in America in the 20th century is raw and rivetting. Read more
Published on 3 Sep 2011 by Paola
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT READ
Published on 20 Jun 2010 by Marlene Lesley Silk
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
This novel is very much about identity. We start with Rebecca as a young mother, and we quickly realise that all is not totally well in her marriage. Read more
Published on 3 Feb 2010 by Pen pal
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious in the extreme
I am one of those people who persevere to the end of a book, no matter how much of a hard slog it is, but I really did have to force myself with this one. Read more
Published on 23 May 2008 by Lancashire Lass
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping with loose ends
Whilst I found this book gripping, I felt there were some aspects that weren't finished. For instance -- did Rebecca aka Hazel Jones ever tell her husband who she really was? Read more
Published on 16 Sep 2007 by Mrs. Tamara S. Jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping, Emotionally Wrenching Look at How Women Accommodate Men to...
The Gravedigger's Daughter is the most compelling novel I've read in decades. My emotions were so wrapped up in this book that I could hear the sounds in the story's background,... Read more
Published on 13 July 2007 by Donald Mitchell
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Popular Highlights

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History has no existence. All that exists are individuals, and of these, only individual moments as broken off from one another as shattered vertebrae. &quote;
Highlighted by 19 Kindle users
“Hide most things you know. Like you would hide any weakness. Because it is a weakness to know too much among others who know too little.” &quote;
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A woman opens her body to a man, a man will possess it as his own. Once a man loves you in that way, he will come to hate you. In time. Never will a man forgive you for his weakness in loving you. &quote;
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