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Extended Audio Sample A Widows Story: A Memoir, by Joyce Carol Oates Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,402 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joyce Carol Oates Narrator: Ellen Parker Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In a work unlike anything she's written before, National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates unveils a poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of her husband of forty-six years and its wrenching, surprising aftermath.

"My husband died, my life collapsed."

On a February morning in 2008, Joyce Carol Oates drove her ailing husband, Raymond Smith, to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Both Joyce and Ray expected him to be released in a day or two. But in less than a week, even as Joyce was preparing for his discharge, Ray died from a virulent hospital-acquired infection, and Joyce was suddenly faced—totally unprepared—with the stunning reality of widowhood.

A Widow's Story illuminates one woman's struggle to comprehend a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of "death-duties," and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief—the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous "pools" of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgment of the widow's desperation—only gradually yielding to the recognition that "this is my life now."

Enlivened by the piercing vision, acute perception, and mordant humor that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this moving tale of life and death, love and grief, offers a candid, never-before-glimpsed view of the acclaimed author and fiercely private woman.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “'Oates’ prose contains a deep felt rawness which hovers between hope, despair and love.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Oates is an inspired writer, and a formidable psychologist. She has a thrilling way of grasping an emotion, wasting no time and launching herself straight at the aching heart of the matter.”

    Independent (London)

  • “Oates…shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Protean and unflinching Oates has created an illuminating portrait of a marriage, a searing confrontation with death, an extraordinarily forthright chronicle of mourning, and a profound ‘pilgrimage’ from chaos to coherence.”


  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the March2011Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Denise Caudell | 2/20/2014

    " A deep and moving novel about Joyce Carol Oates loss of her husband. The book moves at a pace that feels right when dealing with the subject of loss and being left alone. It was almost like having Joyce Carol Oates right next to you telling you her story. I found it provacative. It brought up many questions that I have about loss and how it will effect me personally. I learned some valuable information with this book. I gave it 3 stars only because of its heavy subject and the fact that it might not appeal to everyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kasa Cotugno | 2/13/2014

    " Although they never may have met in life, Howard Pinter, Ray Smith and John Gregory Dunne will be linked in my mind for the legacy they left behind through the memoirs crafted by their wives. Each had the good fortune to have enjoyed a long fruitful marriage to a woman capable of creating a worthy memorial to his life. Joyce Smith and Joyce Oates are one and the same, but those of us only knowing the Oates half are surprised that she considers the two to be so divergent and that her husband of just over 47 years did not know the writer at all since she didn't share her fiction with him. She has moved on, astoundingly given some of the grieving processes the experienced at her husband's rapid death. But it is wrenching to read what she goes through. No stranger to inerior monologues (e.g., Black Water, Blonde), this is a memoir that only she could write with such conviction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Michael Gleich | 2/7/2014

    " I was a bit disappointed, it was very repetitive and made her look like a victim, I thought. It did bring memories back in flashes of my father's death and how difficult it was for me to accept. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Caterina | 2/6/2014

    " while not a JCO follower, i admire her private lonliness... intrigingly honest and at some points startling, a widow's story does what literary magic is supposed to do... it takes us to a place where we may have been or will be at some point in our lifetime and spills our thoughts, feelings, reactions, desires, and phobias onto wisped white pages making us feel less alone... "

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