by Joyce Carol Oates


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An engrossing early novel from Joyce Carol Oates’s earlier novels explores a fraught and perilous 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 find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other. Monica is a shy, modest, and recently divorced school teacher while Sheila is a worldly, sophisticated, and nocturnal painter driven by the needs of her art. Over the months, their friendship deepens, first to love and then to a near-fatal obsession.

Engaging, dark, and mysterious, Solstice is Joyce Carol Oates’s psychological masterpiece of friendship and fixation. 


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062795779
Publisher: HarperCollins US
Publication date: 03/19/2019
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been several times nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. Her most recent novel is A Book of American Martyrs. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.


Princeton, New Jersey

Date of Birth:

June 16, 1938

Place of Birth:

Lockport, New York


B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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Solstice 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Camboron More than 1 year ago
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.