Double Delight

Overview

Terence Greene, a man seemingly without flaw or weakness, is a model husband, father, and citizen, with a picture-book home in the affluent New Jersey suburbs and an ideal position as director of a great philanthropic foundation. It is while performing his lawful duty as a member of a jury that he first sees exotically beautiful Ava-Rose Renfrew. She is testifying against a man accused of brutally assaulting her, and Terence tries to tell himself that he is stirred by her plight and not her person. Naturally, he ...
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Overview

Terence Greene, a man seemingly without flaw or weakness, is a model husband, father, and citizen, with a picture-book home in the affluent New Jersey suburbs and an ideal position as director of a great philanthropic foundation. It is while performing his lawful duty as a member of a jury that he first sees exotically beautiful Ava-Rose Renfrew. She is testifying against a man accused of brutally assaulting her, and Terence tries to tell himself that he is stirred by her plight and not her person. Naturally, he manipulates his fellow jurors into delivering a verdict supporting her. But his pretense melts like snow in fire when after the trial he makes contact with Ava-Rose at the ramshackle house in the rundown neighborhood where she lives. Terence plunges into a searing sexual affair with Ava-Rose and enters the intimate circle of her raffish family, whose masks of warm friendliness and hearty vulgarity lift in unguarded moments to reveal monstrous manipulations of both his emotions and his bank account. None is more suspect than Ava-Rose herself, whose power over Terence grows as his passion becomes obsessive. Soon the little white lies he is telling at home, and the adultery he is committing with Ava-Rose, will become the very least of his sins.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At the core of this otherwise compelling psychological mystery is an obsession that does not ring true. The obsessor throws caution to the wind on the basis of a few glances; the object of his desire has a history of attracting such dupes without lifting an eyebrow. Before he takes his tumble, affable and reasonable Terence Greene lives in a large colonial house in an affluent New Jersey suburb, commutes to a Park Avenue art foundation where he's the executive director and is married above his station to critical, peckish Phyllis. Called to jury duty in blue-collar Trenton, Terence instantly develops a powerful attraction to gypsy-like assault victim Ava-Rose Renfrew. Out of place in blue gabardine, Terence becomes jury foreman, presses a guilty verdict against Ava-Rose's assailant and finds himself irresistibly drawn to her ramshackle home. Deceiving appearances propel the narrative as Terence manipulates power and money to help the motley Renfrew clana seemingly benign great-aunt, an uncle, nieces, a nephew. As sexual obsession grows, Terence commits acts out of character for himuntil we learn the truth about his own origins. As multi-layered and many-hued as the double delight rose of the title, Smith's latest (You Can't Catch Me) is a deft study of social class and justice, of one man's need to control others' lives when he fails to control his own. (June) FYI: Rosamond Smith is the pseudonym of Joyce Carol Oates.
Library Journal
Terence C. Greene is envied and admired as the husband of the wealthy, attractive Phyllis and as the executive director of an arts-supporting foundation. Competent at work, Greene never quite overcomes his feelings of inadequacy elsewhere. A jury duty summons and subsequent selection as foreman allow him to guide the decision in an assault case against a man accused of beating Ava-Rose Renfrew. From his first view of colorful, free-spirited Ava-Rose, Greene is lost. His obsession compels him to embezzle funds, steal vehicles and other items, and murder for Ava-Rose and her "family" of unclear relationships and even murkier livelihoods. Although Greene tries to return to his former way of life, he is incapable of staying away from Ava-Rose's milieu-where at novel's end he believes he is happy and in control. The extended sentences, half-stated thoughts, and omniscient yet focused narration underscores Greene's dislocation. For most fiction collections, especially where Smith's (a.k.a. Joyce Carol Oates) psychological suspense titles are in demand.-V. Louise Saylor, Eastern Washington Univ. Lib., Cheney
Kirkus Reviews
A cozy suburbanite who's won it all loses it, and perhaps his mind as well, when a summons to jury duty throws him together with a bewitching assault victim, in the sixth and most elaborate of Smith's neo-gothic fantasies (You Can't Catch Me, 1995, etc.).

Who could be more comfortable, more utterly natural in his setting, than Terence Green, the foundation director who commutes home each day to his wealthy, glamorous wife and two daughters (a son is at Dartmouth) in comfy Queenston, New Jersey? But all that changes when he's asked to judge the case of Ava-Rose Renfrew, who's accused one T.W. Binder of assaulting her. Suddenly infatuated with Ava-Rose, Terence finds himself rising to persuade his wavering fellow-jurors to convict Binder, then hanging around Ava-Rose's neighborhood and getting sucked into her raffish entourage. Soon he's swapping stories with her aunt Holly Mae Loomis and her Cap'n-Uncle Riff, flirting with her twin nieces Dara and Dana, and, inevitably, bedding sweet Ava-Rose herself. And soon he's paying for his enchantment not only with the foundation's money, pinched with unwonted dexterity, but with his peace of mind—his double life has stirred obscure memories of the early life his upscale marriage rescued him from—and perhaps his freedom as well, as he slips into murder with the same horrible facility and self-excusing glibness that marked his descent into romantic obsession. (There's even a murder he's not sure he's committed, a disconcerting complement to the general weightlessness of his other misdeeds.) Meantime, he's getting broad hints, in Smith's most overwrought style, that Ava-Rose is not what she seems; in fact, she may be nothing but an optical illusion.

It's a mark of both Smith's unsettling power and its limitations that Terence's wayward obsession is so much stronger and more believable than the shadowy woman who inspires it, or even than Terence himself.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452280410
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/1999
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates
In a prolific and varied oeuvre that ranges over essays, plays, criticism, and several genres of fiction, Joyce Carol Oates has proved herself one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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