Book Review – A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates

A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Joyce Carol Oates has become one of my favorite authors. Her memoir is honest and brave, describing not only the loneliness and sadness of losing a spouse, but the clinical depression and suicidal ideations, the feeling of not knowing what to do, of having lost her purpose in life, lost without the man she’d been with for over 40 years. I see some reviewers saying it was repetitive and boring – I think the repetition is intentional; it mimics the repetitive nature of her life during those first six months of widowhood. I would recommend this to anyone who has lost someone they’d built their life around, and to anyone who is already a fan of this prolific author.

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4 Comments on “Book Review – A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates”

    • I think she’s written like 70 books. I’ve read 3 so far. What strikes me most is her ability to completely change the voice she writes with, depending on narrator. Some (most) authors seem to have 1 distinct voice. Also, one booktube reviewer compared my writing (my novella) to hers, which surprised me (pleasantly) as I’d written my novella before reading any of her work!


  1. Hi Shannon, I always enjoy your reviews, the books you love, admire and otherwise. Your honesty is what keeps me coming back to read more reviews.

    I would love your review of my latest memoir, published in the fall of 2021, called Fat and Beautiful – A Story of Love, Pain and Courage. But first, if you do not mind a little back story…

    You gave me a fabulous review on my book Where is My Happy Ending – A Journey of No Regrets. I remember being nervous about this because I am another self-published author who sometimes flies by the seat of her pants. LOL. Since then, my confidence has soared, and I have just completed my first Fiction manuscript, which will soon be my 4th book.

    I am emailing you about my third book, Fat and Beautiful – A Story of Love, Pain and Courage. It is my third memoir but not about myself (per se). After my older estranged sister read my first book Looking for Normal, she liked it but felt if I had asked her some questions, she could have filled in the blanks for me. This bothered me, but to be kind, I said, Oh, well, the story is how I remembered it to be, my thoughts and feelings about MY childhood. She responded, “Why don’t you write a book about me.” At the time, her request annoyed me, and I had no interest in writing a book about my sister. My much older distant sister.

    After my second book, my sister said, “WOW, we had completely different childhoods; I had no idea you had so many struggles.” But then again, she said, “I would love it if you could write my story.” And again, I was not the least bit interested.

    My sister Linda is 13 years older than me, and when I was four years old, she moved out and started her life as a cowgirl in the Cariboo. We had never been close, and when she did come for visits, it felt more like a distant aunt visiting us. She thought I was slightly spoiled, and I perceived her as bossy.

    Then 2019 brought Covid.

    Linda lives in a senior’s home in Kamloops. I live in North Vancouver. While we were all on lockdown and seemingly fearing for our lives, I began calling her once a week, primarily out of guilt. The good news is that we became very close. One year later, I said yes to writing her story.

    The book was written through weekly one-hour conversations on the telephone and her occasional handwritten letter. Linda had never been on a computer before and had just recently gotten her first cell phone.

    Please see the attached Book Backgrounder and let me know if I could send you a copy of my book about my sister. I understand you have a long list in the queue, so there is no rush.

    Sending you warm regards, Karen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karen,
      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I am thrilled my review of your book boosted your confidence! I wanted to re-read that review but I’m having trouble locating it. Can you point me to it?


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