Saturday, September 8, 2007

The GraveDigger's Daughter

Title: The Gravedigger's Daughter
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 582
Edition: Hardcover

Joyce Carol Oates is quite a prolific writer and touted for her works on rural poverty, sexual abuse, violence, female childhood and adulthood. She has churned out 36 novels so far, averaging two books a year. She has won numerous book awards and nominated for pulitzer prize thrice. 'The GraveDigger's Daughter' is her latest work.

Prologue ~ 1959, Chatauqua Falls, New York ~ Rebecca Schwart on her way back from her factory job was troubled by a stalker who mistakes her as 'Hazel Jones'.

1936, Milburn, New York ~ Rebecca's parents Jacob and Anna Schwart along with their two sons flee Nazis Germany in 1936 to immigrate to the United States and settle in upstate NewYork. Rebecca Schwart, the protagonist of the novel, is born in the boat crossing over. Jacob, a former school teacher in Munich, works as the gravedigger and the cemetery caretaker in Milburn. The Schwarts family were tormented by their past memories and they find no peace in Milburn either. The local townsmen taunt them for being Jews and Jacob despises every single one of them. An unprecedented event upends the family once and for all. Jacob kills Anna and commits suicide not before attempting to kill Rebecca.

Rebecca flees home and marries Niles Tignor and gives birth to Niles Jr. Apparently, Rebecca was not destined for happiness in life. She flees once again from her philandering husband Niles Tignor, when he brutally beats her and attempts to kill her. Rebecca adopts the identity of Hazel Jones and Niles Jr. the alias of Zacharias. As hope and happiness eludes her, she finds herself constantly on the run. Rebecca finds solace in the arms of Niles Jr, who grows up to be pianist.

Rebecca moves on to seek a new beginning, a promising life with happiness and hope. Will she ever find it?

Even after the epilogue, some questions do remain at the end, as some parts of the story were left dangling for the readers to comprehend. An emotional and touching story turned out to be rather a boring read because of the writing style. The prose was very exhaustive, slack and repetitive. I couldn't help myself stifling a yawn now and then. Having won so many accolades, I was curious to discover more of her books. Now, I am skeptical if I would ever pick up her book again! Quite Boring...

My Rating: 2/5


Literary Feline said...

Have you read other books by Joyce Carol Oates? I read The Falls a couple of years ago, and while slow, I did like it. I recently acquired a copy of this one and it will most likely be my second of her books. I am sorry to hear you found it boring. :-( That's not a good sign.

Lauren said...

I completely agree! I read this book to review for Harper Collins Canada and that's the only reason I didn't give up on it. I've read Missing Mom by Oates before and enjoyed it so I was surprised this was so utterly BORING!!!

tanabata said...

I've only read a few books by Oates and loved a couple, thought another couple were just ok. I think I'll give this latest one a miss. I'm still curious to read some more by her though.

Happy Reader said...

@literary feline ~ I've never read anything by Oates before. And I don't know if I will pick one up again in the future. I did find the pace of this book to be slow as well. It was not just my kind of book.
@lauren ~ Welcome to my blog! I am curious about 'Missing Mom' now. Guess I should look it up!
@tanabata ~ Her forthcoming novels are 'My Sister,My Love' and 'The Crosswicks Horrors', in case you want to try.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Chitts!

I am truly amazed by Carol Oates' prolificacy! She averages 2 novels a year??? It's amazing how she comes up with these very different premises for her books, just wish her writing style would keep up with her creative mind. I don't think I have read any of her novels...but I wouldn't mind trying some of her earlier ones.

Thank you for the review, I definitely won't be reading this one!

Radha said...

Really? Its boring? How disappointing!

Happy Reader said...

@Lotus ~ It surprises me that you haven't read Oates before, you being an avid reader! But, sometimes it happens, Yeah :)
The Falls, Them, Zombie, Rape: A Love Story, Blonde, What I Lived For, Black Water are some of her award winning titles. You might want to give them a try! Honestly, I have no idea if any of them are good...
@Radha ~ Yep :( Have you read Oates before? Any suggestions?