A major historical novel from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation)--an eerie, unforgettable story of possession, power, and loss in early-twentieth-century Princeton, a cultural crossroads of the powerful and the damned
Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edges of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton; their daughters begin disappearing. A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man-a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.
When the bride's brother sets out against all odds to find her, his path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, from Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House and retired to town for a quieter life, to soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, president of the university and a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power; from the young Socialist idealist Upton Sinclair to his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain-all plagued by "accursed" visions.
An utterly fresh work from Oates, The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful writer. Narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.
|Publish Date:||Mar 2013|
|Number of Pages:||669|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||1.9|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||6.5 x 9.5 x 1.75|
Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 in Upstate, New York. She attended Syracuse University and graduated as Valedictorian. She then attended University of Wisconsin where she earned an M. A. By the time she was 47 years old, she had published at least that many separate books, including 16 full-length novels and more than a dozen collections of short stories. Some of her works were done under the pseudonym Rosamund Smith.
She has also written numerous poems collected in several volumes, at least three plays, many critical essays, and articles and reviews on various subjects while fulfilling her obligations as a professor of English at the University of Windsor, where with her husband Raymond Smith she edited the Ontario Review, which the couple has continued since moving to Princeton in 1978. She has earned a reputation as indubitably one of our most prolific writers and very likely one of our best.
Her fiction alone demonstrates considerable variety, ranging from direct naturalism to complex experiments in form. However, what chiefly makes her work her own is a quality of psychological realism, an uncanny ability to bring to the surface an underlying sense of foreboding or a threat of violence that seems to lurk just around the corner from the everyday domestic lives she depicts so realistically. Her first six novels, including Them (1969), which won the National Book Award, express these qualities in varying ways. she is also the recipient of an NEA grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Lifetime Achievement Award, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature. Her title Give Me Your Heart made the New York Times Best seller list for 2011.
Crossing history and needling social commentary with folklore and Grand Guignol horror, Oates offers a grandly over-the-top tale. Narrated at some remove by a wasp-tongued historian who pretends objectivity, it opens with Annabel, granddaughter of the estimable clergyman Winslow Slade, meeting a seductive if slightly menacing man in the family garden in Princeton, NJ. Later, at a fete at the sumptuous "cottage" her family is bestowing upon Annabel and her chilly military fiance, former President Grover Cleveland collapses at the (presumed) sight of his dead daughter's ghost.
When Annabel is lured from the altar by her admirer, who just might be the Devil, it seems that a curse has been laid upon the family and their upper-crust associates, who disdain upstart Princeton president Woodrow Wilson and don't even know that socialist author Upton Sinclair, living nearby, exists. As deaths occur and Annabel's brother, Josiah, hunts for her while coming into full rebellion against his family, we are taken on a tour of he'll.
Verdict: Though the mix of genres might be too rich for some readers and the happy ending too manufactured for others, this is a smart and relentlessly absorbing read.
[See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/10/12.] - Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
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