The Female of the Species, Paperback

The Female of the Species Paperback

2 out of 5 (1 rating)


A young wife is home alone when the phone rings in 'So Help Me God.' Is the strange voice flirting with her from the other end of the line her jealous husband laying a trap, or a stranger who knows entirely too much about her?

In 'Madison at Guignol' an unhappy fashionista discovers a secret door inside her favourite clothing store and insists the staff let her enter.

But even her fevered imagination cannot anticipate the horror they have been hiding from her.

In these and other gripping and disturbing tales, women are confronted by the evil around them and surprised by the evil they find within themselves. With wicked insight, Joyce Carol Oates demonstrates why the females of the species - be they six-year-old girls, seemingly devoted wives, or aging mothers - are by nature more deadly than the males.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9781847240361



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My second Oates. This one is a collection of short stories, many of which originally appeared in genre magazines. I think I can safely say now that Oates doesn’t quite work for me. According to the blurb, in these stories “women are confronted by the evil around them and surprised by the evil they find within them”. I thought the most successful story was ‘Madison at Guignol’, in which a trophy wife polished to a lacquer-like gloss learns of a secret door at one of her favourite high-end boutiques and insists on admittance through it: Fifth Avenue meets Gothic horror. Another one I liked was ‘Hunger’, a much longer piece about a bored wife who, after a holiday affair with a younger man, is horrified when he turns up at her home. Even though she loves him – though it seems to be more of a passion – she’s not willing to jeopardise her marriage. Not all of the stories worked for me – the one about the nurse felt too much like reportage, in some of the others the prose seemed too focused on effect rather than the story. The reason for Oates’ stature is plain to see in this collection, but there are other writers I’d sooner read.

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