Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars15
4.0 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

VINE VOICEon 10 December 2008
I'd never read an Oates book before and came across this one by chance. Glad I did. I was intrigued by the title. How could rape be also a love story? Well, now I know!

It's also a story of what ifs, if onlys. If only the single yourng mother had allowed her daughter, Bethel, to sleep-over at friends, if only...well, there are quite a few more which serves no purpose since the mother, Teena, finished up fighting for her life after a brutal and horrifying gang-rape.

The story is mainly told through the eyes of Bethie who was also badly beaten and traumatised at the same time. The style of writing is quick, forceful and yet filled with just the right words to convey their meaning.

Sparse it may be, but the reader is left in no doubt how it happened, why it happened and who were the main low-lifes who committed the act. That subsequent court hearings cast doubt on the events only causes a certain NYPD officer to carefully deal with the problem. Despite the awful act, there is love abounding in the book. The daughter who loves her devastated mother, the officer who, as in one of those inexplicable events in life when you meet someone casually and they remain in your mind forever watches over Teena, the grandmother who does her best for daughter and granddaughter; even the parents of the yobs who just cannot believe their offspring could do such a thing. Love is all around and thank goodness it is. You finish this novella quickly because it moves quickly. But you are left in no doubt that, despite horrific events, there is hope and you should cling to it no matter the odds. All-in-all, I'm more than glad I read this book; I'm sure you will be, too.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 January 2012
In one of the USA's most famous honeymoon hotspots, Niagara Falls, a group of friends are having a party to celebrate July 4th. Thirty-one year old widow Teena Maguire and her 12 year old daughter Bethel are at Teena's boyfriend's house and decide to walk home. Teena has had a few drinks and foolishly makes a mistake that nearly costs both their lives. Rather than take the well-lit route home along the road, she decides to walk back through the park. A gang of young local men, drunk and high on methamphetamine force the mother and daughter into a filthy boat house, physically beat both of them and when the daughter wriggles away and hides in a corner, they rape and kick Teena so badly that she's left bleeding on the floor, close to death.

It doesn't take long for the men to be identified - and even less time for the rumours and allegations to start; rumours not about the violent young men but about their victim. Teena's only crime was to be too young and pretty, to dress provocatively and not to conform to people's expectations of a young widow. Once the physical wounds are healed and Teena is out of hospital, we go to court with her and Bethel for the initial hearing. The mother of two of the attackers sits in the front row muttering "Bitch! Whore! Liar" at Teena. Her husband hires his 'boys' a top defence lawyer - a man with no qualms about destroying the victims if it keeps his clients out of prison or gets them a reduced sentence. Threatening notes are left at Teena and Bethel's home, Bethel gets bullied at school. The boyfriend can't deal with what's happened.

I feared I could see exactly where it was going - that the societal psychological 'rape' of Teena would be every bit as painful and devastating as the physical rape of July 4th. I could see that the only way out for the attackers was to totally destroy their victims in a long, drawn-out and painful way by turning society against them and using the constraints of the legal system to help their cases. I was reminded of the 1988 Oscar-winning film 'The Accused' in which Jodie Foster plays the victim and Kelly McGillis her lawyer. What I wasn't expecting - and what I loved - was the quiet, covert but beautifully effective way that Teena's 'avenging angel' takes things into his own hands. This is the love story of the title - the quiet, hidden revenge acted out without the knowledge of the victims and delivered so much more effectively than the 'law' could ever do. Yes, it is a love story - but a very strange one and not one that fits any of the usual moulds.

It would be easy to dismiss this book as not saying anything new - to claim that the whole debate around 'asking for it' has been given many millions of words of attention over the years. It's sometimes not WHAT you write that matters - it's HOW you write it that counts and JCO writes this beautifully. I've been reading her books (and more often buying and then NOT reading them) for 25 years now and this is one of the best. When she writes with brevity she writes best and these 154 pages are carefully crafted in a way that makes you think that every word was chosen carefully.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 June 2015
This is a masterful if relentlessly dark tale of urban alienation, redeemed by its fluid, pared-down narration and strong voices.

Like a dog circling a corpse, the author uses the first nine chapters gradually to zone in on the rape - which is eventually described from the point of view of the terrified 12 year old daughter of Teena, the flirty thirty-something victim of a horrific gang attack.

The narrative switches between the viewpoints of Teena, her daughter Bethie, her boyfriend Casey, the avenging policeman Dromoor, and several of the congenitally stupid and remorseless perpetrators. This generally works well, though all of the characters are hunted and haunted. In the background is the run down, leftover north-eastern town of Buffalo which seems devoid of beauty or hope. Social devastation is the norm.

The first part is followed by chilling if sketchy pre-trial hearings. The ruthlessly clever defence attorney portrays Teena as an alcoholic-druggie slut, whose desperate but willing prostitution to the crystal meths gang got out of control. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood gossips jealously blame Teena for encouraging rape by her lifestyle, pitilessly exaggerating the victim's supposedly risky behaviour: 'That Maguire woman, she had it coming.' Despair overwhelms.

The last third of the book loses some of its emotional force as the obsessive policeman John Dromoor carries out a series of vengeful murders of the chief rapists. Though predictably satisfying, the vigilante killings let the reader off the hook: they are a fantasy denouement which reduce the effect in the reader's mind of the suffering and degradation of the victims.

However, Oates has a final sting in the tale. We are left with a coda of brief, stark portraits of Bethie and Dromoor, years later, living apparently normal lives with their very different families, from which they feel deeply estranged.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 October 2013
I'd never yet read anything by Joyce Carol Oates. After a close friend strongly recommended her work, I told myself I'd give it a try. Having looked up the disheartening long list of Oates's published books, and seeing most novels were close to 500 pages, I decided to go for a novella, and 'take it easy'. That'd be shorter; lighter, too.
Little did I know that the novella I'd pick out (for no other reason than the intriguing title- how on earth could `rape' be a 'love story'?) would be anything but easy.
Reading 'Rape' was like getting a big cruel kick in the stomach. I took it up on a Monday evening; could not put it aside- till it was 'over'.
In this story, when catharsis comes, it is superbly crafted, its morals shining bright, in quirky paradox: what we're shown here is... triumph. The triumph of friendship; the triumph of love.
This book isn't one you get over with. Though the story itself brings closure, the feelings it awakens are not easily put to rest.
The brutality of those starting pages -the torture, in body and soul, of Teena Maguire; the anguish and terror of young Bethie; the seemingly endless, hopeless fight against cruelty and machismo of provincial America- all that stays with the reader.
This is a book I'll not forget.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 March 2016
I really wish this had a different title. I understand that it's referring to the love story between the rape survivor and her family, rather than the rapists, but it's such an unnecessarily misleading title that it makes it hard for me to recommend this book to anyone without babbling a caveat beforehand. That said, I have recommended this book, because I think that - despite the title - it's a fairly nuanced look at the problems within the justice system when it comes to the crime of rape, and at the deeper culture of victim blaming within society as a whole. The only part I didn't like was the ending, but I don't think it detracted from the rest of the book. Read with caution as it's obviously incredibly visceral and traumatic in places, to necessary effect.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 November 2006
Over the years, Joyce Carol Oates has used the short novel form as a way to expiate her literary and personal demons; subjects she only touches upon in her more "serious" novels. In "Rape, A Love Story" we have the horrible gang rape of Teena Maguire witnessed by her daughter, Bethie. Much of "Rape" reads like a police report or something you might watch on Court TV. The writing is very spare, direct, and journalistically precise: "the woman had to be drunk, high on coke herself, partying since early evening and by midnight you can figure the state she was in, how the hell could Teena Maguire even recognize who had sex with her? And how many"

The Love story angle of the title is of course not a straight ahead, direct man-to woman one but one involving a Niagara Falls Policeman, Dromoor, who finds Teena at the crime scene and who takes it upon himself to become her avenging Angel: "A gun excited him. It was a good feeling. Quickened his pulse so he could actually feel it. Sometimes a tinge in the groin"

"Rape" is not a treatise on rape, per se, nor is it wholly a comment on the tendency of society to place blame on the victim. What it is, is a serious commentary on the randomness of crime: crime that is too often fueled by drugs and alcohol. More imprtantly though it is about the devastating personal effect crime has on the victim and the family of the victim.

Like "Zombie," "The Rise of Life on Earth" and last years "Beasts," "Rape" is out to make a point about a very specific subject. Oates doesn't waste any time getting there and uses very few words in the process. "Rape" is not a major Oates work but it is an interesting, often pathetic and emotionally aware one. And as such it is of interest to all of her fans that crave a quick Oates fix before the next full length novel.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 March 2015
Personally, I despise Oates' style of writing. It's almost fraudulent and as though she's trying too hard to get across a pretty mundane and already-overly-elaborated point, making it difficult to read. Really enjoyed the third person/internal monologue narrative, and the substance is less grotesque than it's made out to be. Not sure whether that's a good thing or not!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 August 2014
This book is powerful, beautifully crafted. I read it in one sitting. I love the rhythm of the the prose. The subject is is brutal and the portrayal is raw. Books like this remind me that writing is an art.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 September 2014
A traumatic and unflinching, but beautifully written short novel by the amazing JCO. This book will remain with you. Highly recommended
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 April 2006
If this is the first book that you have read by Joyce Carol Oates and I can guaruntee that you won't be dissapointed.
You will find your perceptions of victim and assailant constantly challenged, wondering how this tragic start to a story could ever be resolved. And Yet Oates manages to drag us in to this world of the victim of a gang rape and her daughter who witnessed the event.
Your heart is twisted continually as you are dropped into the story at crucial moments allowed to feel what the victim feels and yet see the perceptions of others towards a victim of rape.
Each character is carefully and beautifully painted and this book has an unbearable tension as we wait to see if justice can ever be done. And yet without any air of predictability the story is beautifully resolved and leaves the reader breathless with relief and wanting to pick it up and start again! Try it and see for yourself
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

£6.29
£3.85
£13.48

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.