Solstice

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One of the most engrossing of Joyce Carol Oates's earlier novels explores a relationship between two women.
Originally published in 1985, Solstice is the gripping story of Monica Jensen and Sheila Trask, two young women who are complete opposites yet irresistibly attracted to each other. Blonde, shy, recently divorced Monica is a school teacher; dark, nocturnal, sophisticated Sheila is a painter of stature, driven by the needs of her art. Over ...

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Overview

One of the most engrossing of Joyce Carol Oates's earlier novels explores a relationship between two women.
Originally published in 1985, Solstice is the gripping story of Monica Jensen and Sheila Trask, two young women who are complete opposites yet irresistibly attracted to each other. Blonde, shy, recently divorced Monica is a school teacher; dark, nocturnal, sophisticated Sheila is a painter of stature, driven by the needs of her art. Over the months, their friendship deepens, first to love and then to a near-fatal obsession.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
A powerful beam into the dark places of the soul.
West Coast Review of Books
Oates's novel is spellbinding, entrancing reading.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865381001
  • Publisher: Ontario Review Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Pages: 243
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is one of our most important and well known writers—and one of America’s foremost writers of the short story form. She is also a regular contributor of reviews and criticism for the New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and elsewhere. She also reads and lectures widely throughout the US, at universities and bookstores.

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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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2012

    WTF? Thanks again, JCO!

    This has been one of my favorite Joyce Carol Oates reads, because it covers one of my favorite themes she hits upon--a friendship or relationship, unusual in its beginning or unexpected in who is matched up with who, begin to grow exponentially at a feverish pace, until it comes to some dramatic or unexpected conclusion.
    That relationship in this book is between a schoolteacher, Monica and her famous artist neighbor, Sheila. I was reading, at the same time, Michael Cunningham's BY NIGHTFALL, and found some reoccurring themes, most notably, the personality of a famous artist. Also, the emptiness and vapidness of high society, and its allure, as when Monica gets caught up in Sheila's dramatic and sometimes melodramatic life.
    As with all of these intense relationships created by Oates, I was sucked into it as was Monica. I have this affinity to Oates' books, in that, I seem to get as caught up in the same whirlwind as her characters, and find I cannot put the book down. If I do, I am haunted by it, and want to pick it up again, to be submerged in the craziness and chaos of the relationships. Everything started off so simple and harmless, and events and thoughts and decisions just keep coming at you, and find that the "logic" that gets her characters from A to B has seduced into its web. You find yourself seeing and experiencing and feeling everything as the characters do. Then, when it starts to feel off, you have gone along so far with it, that you are trapped, and can't help believe all the crazy stuff, as if it were a nightmare. I do not know how JCO gets so far into the craziness and madness of a troubled mind, and is not a gibbering lunatic herself. I also do not know if I was supposed to laugh or cry, mock or take seriously. I haven't felt this undecided about tone, since I watched to movie SAFE, with Julianne Moore, and that's a good thing. You don't know what to do, and yet you go along, unable to stop reading.
    Sometimes, it is a little off-putting when the author decided to repeat certain adjectives and descriptions of people. Sheila always had a wide mouth and derisive eyes. Monica was always sloe-eyed. But, still, these women were full sketched-out people. Monica, who couldn't seem to stay away from or refuse Sheila, despite her behavior, reminded me of a bully in school, that I was "friends" with, even though he wanted me to always let him copy and give him answers. I couldn't resist being friends with him. Also, JCO captured one's inability or articulate strong feeling, and how they sometimes are two things at the same time.
    The book was fantastic, lurid, gothic, tragic, shocking, and written well. She is so great because she can be both pulp, and literature, base and prolific. Most people have the shocks and nothing underneath, like the rash of exploitative torture and horro movies lately. Her books stick with you, since behind all of the shock is solid, amazing writing. Great for fans of SWF, IDENTITY, MULLHOLAND DRIVE (sp?), THREE WOMEN, or any such intense relationship, switcheroo thingy.

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