A Widow's Story, A Memoir
By Joyce Carol Oates
$27.99, February, 2011
432 pages, Ecco Publishing
A Widow's Story is exactly what the title tells you it is. The story of a woman struggling to cope with the death of her beloved spouse. The widow telling her story this time is the very well known fiction writer Joyce Carol Oates. Oates is not writing fiction this time, so readers, please pay attention to the title, as it tells you this is "a memoir." What we don't know going into this work is how difficult it will be to read, how wrenching Oates can write when she writes from her heart about the people who are important in her life. I've not been a fan of her fiction, but I am now a huge fan of her non-fiction.
Raymond and Carol Smith were married for forty seven years, a veritable lifetime, so when Raymond died from an infection after being hospitalized for pneumonia, Carol's life and her own persona are changed. Its the little things that Oates describes that get you in the gut. For example when Oates explains that she ceased eating meals at the dining table because meals "just become plates of food." Oates carefully documented the email conversations as well as the elegant longhand notes and messages in condolence cards. The descriptions of her emptiness and sense of no longer "fitting" into her old world were painful enough for me to put the book down and take an emotional brake. Sadly she didn't get to take a break from her life.
It took me several weeks to get through her memoir. I can't imagine her drive and sense of wanting to share with other widows that you can move though a loss this devastating. This is the story of how Mrs. Raymond Smith survived the death of her spouse and how she continues to move forward with her life, as a widow.
I highly recommend A Widow's Story. I'm glad that I fought to get through it, it's beautifully written and heartbreakingly candid.
4 out of 5 stars.
This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review.