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Carthage [Kindle Edition]

Joyce Carol Oates
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 disappeared into the night, 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 War 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.

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.

Product Description


‘[Joyce Carol Oates] is simply the most consistently inventive, brilliant, curious and creative writer going, as far as I’m concerned’ Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl”

‘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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2200 KB
  • Print Length: 501 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062208128
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (21 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,472 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
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars America's greatest living writer 9 Oct. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Joyce Carol Oates, America's greatest living writer, rarely fails to deliver a compelling and emotionally engaging novel, and that is certainly the case with Carthage. The story is one of her best, and the structure of the work is truly masterful (she has always fixated on the structure of novels, occasionally to the detriment of other aspects), but stylistically speaking, it's not one of her finest accomplishments, as the quality of the writing varies throughout the work. There are some truly clumsy sentence constructions here, which occasionally hinder the reading experience. I agree with another reviewer that the novel seems rushed through; one gets the feeling as her mortality grows ever closer that she's not as fastidious in her revisions as she once was, which is kind of understandable. And yet there are passages in this novel that are close to sublime, foremost being the account of Cressida's time spent in Florida, which has a different mood from the rest of the novel. The mystery present in the novel has nothing to do with the disappearance, but rather with the dynamics of the family, any family, and the way changes wrought on it by circumstance and fate mangle these dynamics and make life a constant bewilderment. JCO said in a past interview that her books are not sending a specific message to the reader, as she is not a propagandist, but that is not strictly true. One of the main thrusts of this book is her scorn and contempt for American involvement in the Iraq war and the blind patriotism that followed on from 9/11. Witness the relish with which she describes the horrors and callous behaviour of soldiers in that war. However the characters are always the main motive for Oates, and the way she unfolds the inner lives of the characters in this book is superb, as ever. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not like other stories of disappearances.... 14 Sept. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I have not read this author before, but based on the strength of this book, I will definitively read more of her work.

This is a story that took me by surprise because it tackles a girl's disappearance in a way I have not read about elsewhere. We are introduced to a seemingly 'normal 'family, in the town of Carthage. It comprises of two daughters and two parents. the older daughter is thought of as the nice, clever one, beautiful one and the younger daughter, as special and plain. As a reader I thought she has autistic traits or is on the spectrum at least. She is a gifted artist but her view of and interpretation of the world around her is somewhat off.
The older daughter is engaged to a soldier, who upon returning from Iraq, is damaged physically and emotionally. He is deeply changed and rejects the unconditional love shown him.

The family breaks apart when the younger daughter disappears. There is no trace of her after she is seen leave a local bar and the main suspect is the young soldier. So far, so much like any other novel. Read on. I won't tell you what happens next, but it is a novel full of surprises.

The author very skilfully explores issues of identity, family, veterans returning who are damaged in many ways, and whether it is possible to fully love and fully forgive. I highly recommend this novel and will seek out more by this talented author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates 30 Aug. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book takes you on a journey with many unexpected twists and turns. The story of murder, loss, family life and about the fate of veterans from "the war on terror" is told through the points of view of each character. It starts with the disappearance of a young woman and her father's frantic and unsuccessful search for her. We then hear of the effect of her disappearance from her mother's point of view. The story then covers the experiences of her suspected murderer before back tracking to the voice of the missing daughter. The plot is long and involved with the personalities of the characters slowly emerging and changing through their experiences.

It is a story of how people deal with loss, loneliness and misunderstanding. It is a poignant description of how even a loving family can fail to help one another. It contains so many psychological truths that it deserves to be retread slowly rather than raced through in order to find out what happens.

This is the first book that I have read by Joyce Carol Oates. I am delighted to find out that there are many more to read.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carthage - Joyce Carol Oates 25 April 2015
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
The best book I've read in months. Moving, deeply emotionally invested in its characters. A meditation on the effects of war, violence, the morality of the death penalty, the treatment of soldiers after war, the effect of grief on families, etc etc etc. It's a big book with big themes. This is Joyce Carol Oates' best book since We Were the Mulvaneys. It's powerful, detailed, and relentlessly focussed on its tragedies (if that sentence puts you off then this is not the book for you!) I LOVED Cressida - never have I come across a more convincing late adolescent troubled girl. The whole book has the true, ineluctable trajectory of all great tragedies. It's wide in scope and tender in the treatment of its characters, with a sliver of ice at its core. A brilliant book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy 14 May 2015
By Calypso
The Mayfield family are part of the American establishment, well respected, well-off, middle class, with friends in high places. Their world is turned upside down by the disappearance and possible rape and murder of the younger of their two daughters, Cressida.

During the frantic search and police investigation, Brett Kincaid is identified as the main suspect in her probable murder. Brett is a wounded veteran of the Iraq war. Originally engaged to the elder Mayfield daughter, Juliet, he has now broken away from her and is a damaged man, both mentally and physically.

It becomes clear that the Mayfield family has been held together by the dysfunctional behaviour of Cressida, a lightning rod through which the family can channel their endeavours and a vehicle to avoid the issues that perhaps underlie their otherwise solid existence. Through the book we watch the family, and its individual members, break apart.

The book is ambitious in its themes; loss; violence against women; the impact of war; the American penal system. The central premise of the disappearance is also a good one. However, the novel never quite hits the heights that all these ingredients should result in. There is a significant amount of repetition; not the revelatory repetition that can be seen for instance in Donna Tartt’s work or Annie Proulx, but a stubborn reiteration of the same points that adds little to the story other than emphasis. In addition, there are few examples of characters acting as windows onto other characters’ lives - the majority of the book is a narrative between each character and the reader. The result gives a curiously comprehensive but ultimately two-dimensional view of the principal characters.

A worthy novel, but not quite the real deal.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking
Misery, misery and more misery, but intriguing and kept me thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading it.
Published 3 months ago by Rowan Tweddle
3.0 out of 5 stars Not to be taken on holiday
From the beginning it is difficult to feel empathy with Cressida, and as the story unfolds, I found myself disliking her more and more. Read more
Published 3 months ago by vivien nolan
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought this was a very good book. It goes from one character's...
I thought this was a very good book. It goes from one character's story to another, but not as an affectation to be tricksy, it makes the story compelling. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ms. Mary Fletcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Confronting the dark
Dark and ripping. Oates never disappoints her readers.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars The War at Home from a distance too far
I first encountered the work of Joyce Carol Oates with her novel “Because it is bitter and because it is my heart. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Speaking Eye
4.0 out of 5 stars Breathless insights
This ambitious American novel is more than a crime thriller about a missing girl, gifted but plain, naïve and unstable Cressida, and Brett Kincaid who is suspected of harming her. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Antenna
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read.
Published 10 months ago by Kieran Wade
5.0 out of 5 stars present
Chose as a present and it was favourably received. I cannot comment further on this as I didn't read it myself.
Published 11 months ago by Barbara Hough
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