Customer Reviews for

A Widow's Story: A Memoir

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

24 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

This memoir is about Ms. Oates' efforts to move on from the unexpected death of a loved one

In February 2008, Ontario review Editor Raymond Smith was not feeling well so his wife of almost five decades noted author Joyce Carol Oates drove him to the Princeton Medical Center. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted as a patient. Both he and his spouse ex...
In February 2008, Ontario review Editor Raymond Smith was not feeling well so his wife of almost five decades noted author Joyce Carol Oates drove him to the Princeton Medical Center. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted as a patient. Both he and his spouse expected him to come home in a few days. Instead he developed an infection and died one week later.

This memoir is about Ms. Oates' efforts to move on from the unexpected death of a loved one. Everything reminded her how alone she had become and how much she missed her beloved partner. Ms. Oates confesses she initially expected Raymond to appear any moment to help her with the physical and monetary impacts of his death. However, as she wept agonizingly slowly through the passes of grieving, she realized it is the little things in life that enabled Joyce Smith to survive the biggest tragedy she ever faced. This is an insightful first-hand look at grieving as Ms. Oates confirms grief is personally customized to the loving survivor.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on February 1, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

Really? Another Memoir?

Joyce Carol Oates, if ever brave, was so at the start of her career. Now, long since the lost days, Oates has authored what I currently consider a vanity. This memoir, or any reflective musings, are best practiced and penned by anyone other than a writer. It adds nothin...
Joyce Carol Oates, if ever brave, was so at the start of her career. Now, long since the lost days, Oates has authored what I currently consider a vanity. This memoir, or any reflective musings, are best practiced and penned by anyone other than a writer. It adds nothing to a life lived reading subjective plodding texts, inclusive of every cankering slight, life shift, the unfortunate death of a spouse or a sudden awareness that the entire populated earth has experienced. Leave the author to her niche, though indeed unrecognized by the larger awards, her short stories and the dentist to his legitimately earned memoir.

posted by ChrisRoberts on February 15, 2011

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This memoir is about Ms. Oates' efforts to move on from the unexpected death of a loved one

    In February 2008, Ontario review Editor Raymond Smith was not feeling well so his wife of almost five decades noted author Joyce Carol Oates drove him to the Princeton Medical Center. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted as a patient. Both he and his spouse expected him to come home in a few days. Instead he developed an infection and died one week later.

    This memoir is about Ms. Oates' efforts to move on from the unexpected death of a loved one. Everything reminded her how alone she had become and how much she missed her beloved partner. Ms. Oates confesses she initially expected Raymond to appear any moment to help her with the physical and monetary impacts of his death. However, as she wept agonizingly slowly through the passes of grieving, she realized it is the little things in life that enabled Joyce Smith to survive the biggest tragedy she ever faced. This is an insightful first-hand look at grieving as Ms. Oates confirms grief is personally customized to the loving survivor.

    Harriet Klausner

    24 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Helpful to those have lost a loved one.

    This memoir was helpful to me in many ways after I have been through the loss of too many loved ones in the past 5 years. She shows wonderful depth, and insight into the world of those who have lost and are coping and attempting to integrate those losses into their lives as they move forward. That being said-this book also seems to be an outlet for several petty slights, differences with those who do not matter to the author and to those who are unable or unfortunate enough to have gotten on Mrs. Smiths (Oates) bad side (administration at the university) or unlucky enough to have sent her a condolence card. Her manners for those who attempt in their own foundling way to convey their condolence-is not forgivable. There are times where she seem to take particular joy in cutting them down via her reader. This is unprofessional and unfair. I know first hand family members who have behaved with more bravery and decency than this author when faced with 3x the tragedy. I am not going to be looking for more of her novels anytime soon.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Joyce Carol Oates' angst is so keenly expressed that the reader becomes part of her story. It is impossible not to feel her pain, her fright at being left alone, and her second guessing about what she could have done to prevent this death.

    I suggested that a friend of mine who was newly widowed read this book. She was expressing the same kind of feelings about the fears of being alone, the thought that maybe there was something she missed that could have prolonged her husband's life. My friend felt somewhat relieved to have her feelings expressed by a writer we have been reading for several years.

    This is a book that engages women of any age.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    For widows only

    Joyce carol oates has written a very descriptive portral of what it feels to be a widow i lost my husband suddenly to pneumonia also. If you want to get a clear understanding of what a widow goes through when she loses her husband and the life she knew, read this book. It helped me to realize that i am not going crazy.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

    talk about sad and painful

    I have always loved her books. She expressed what I think I would be feeling had my husband died unexpectedly. Painful but worth the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2011

    LOVED IT!

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted May 4, 2011

    Beautifully Courageous

    Any time a woman writer dares to reveal the truth behind the mask, especially when it is "unseemly," she is reaching out her hand in compassion to every woman. In "A Widow's Story" Joyce Carol Oates unmasks herself, sometimes brutally, and through her courage we, the readers, are given an opportunity to see and honor the fralities of our own humanity and that of others in the face tragedy. I am truly sorry that Ms. Oates had to experience such a devastating loss, and yet so grateful that she transformed her anguish into a gift to others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    wonderful book

    very heartfelt and enlightening. one i will come back to again and again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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