A Widow's Story : A Memoir, Hardback

A Widow's Story : A Memoir Hardback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


"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 was dead from a hospital-acquired virulent infection, and Joyce was suddenly faced -- totally unprepared -- with the reality of widowhood. A Widow's Story illuminates one woman's struggle to comprehend a life absent of the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century.

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 humour that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this is an extremely moving tale of life and death, love and grief.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 450 pages, port.
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9780007388165



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.

Review by

From the first I have to admit to being a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates. Her writing is just incredible and having read most of her 115 books, I could not resist this one.This memoir is a moving tribute to her beloved husband Ray, who died somewhat unexpectedly in February 2008. JCO, as she often refers to herself, has quite literally poured her heart out through her writing. She recounts her every feeling in short chapters from her "role" as an executrix of her late husband's will to the way their cats react to her when Ray does not come home from the hospital. It is interesting to note that she often refers to herself in the third person as "The Widow" and this gives her the opportunity to almost distance herself from what is happening to her. This is a very intimate portrait and JCO is brutally frank about her desire to commit suicide, her need to take anti-depressants and her anger at the way some of her friends, acquaintances and total strangers have treated her in her new role as "The Widow". The book is peppered with wonderful quotes and poetry which Ms Oates uses to further express her deep feelings.For all this, I never felt this memoir was depressing or self indulgent. It is an honest, frank depiction of one woman's plight on the death of her soul mate. I imagine it would be a great comfort to any recently bereaved wife or husband, if only to understand that the desperate feelings they are having are not unusual or abnormal.This book will stay with me for a long time and I feel I know a great deal more about one of my favourite authors. I wish her peace and courage for the future without her charming and clearly much admired late husband. This book was made available to me, prior to publication, for an honest review.

Also by Joyce Carol Oates   |  View all