Read Fiica groparului by Joyce Carol Oates Online


America dinaintea celui de-al Doilea Război Mondial. Privit de departe, acesta este Tărâmul Făgăduinţei, al toleranţei. Familia Schwart însă, refugiată din Germania nazistă, descoperă cu totul altceva. O lume în care clocoteşte ura faţă de orice este străin.Singura slujbă pe care capul familiei, fost profesor de liceu, reuşeşte să o obţină este aceea de gropar şi îngrijitoAmerica dinaintea celui de-al Doilea Război Mondial. Privit de departe, acesta este Tărâmul Făgăduinţei, al toleranţei. Familia Schwart însă, refugiată din Germania nazistă, descoperă cu totul altceva. O lume în care clocoteşte ura faţă de orice este străin.Singura slujbă pe care capul familiei, fost profesor de liceu, reuşeşte să o obţină este aceea de gropar şi îngrijitor de cimitir. Măcinat de frustrări şi cu un psihic tot mai afectat, Jacob Schwart îşi împinge irecuperabil familia în ruină. Cei doi fii fug de acasă, iar mezina, Rebecca, se înstrăinează tot mai tare. Totul culminând cu o tragedie care o azvârle mult prea devreme pe fiica groparului în torentul zbuciumat al vieţii.Astfel începe un năucitor pelerinaj prin America, o odisee a alegerilor greşite şi a nevoii dârze de-a le îndrepta printr-o reinventare izbăvitoare de sine. „Tu te-ai născut aici, ţie nu-ţi vor face nimic“ sunt cuvintele profetice ale groparului rostite cu o secundă înaintea clipei ce avea să marcheze destinul fiicei sale. Profeţie care, asemenea profeţiilor biblice, nu doar că se va dovedi adevărată, ci îşi va şi dezvălui multiplele înţelesuri.(Mircea Pricăjan)...

Title : Fiica groparului
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789736697098
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 632 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fiica groparului Reviews

  • Jason Pettus
    2019-03-10 18:16

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)So what's the dark fear that lies in the inner heart of all erudite nerds? Namely this -- that no matter how educated, intelligent or well-read you are, there are always going to be a certain amount of very well-known authors you have never read at all, not even one single page of, and that at any moment this fact might be discovered by your fellow erudite nerds. Just take me, for example, who can count among completely unread authors such stalwarts as (deep breath, Jason, deep breath) Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Norman Mailer, Augusten Burroughs, Dave Eggers, and dozens more embarrassing admissions. So needless to say that I was excited to recently come across the latest novel by Joyce Carol Oates at my local library, 2007's The Gravedigger's Daughter, because Oates is yet another of these classic "everyone has read at least one book by her" authors who I haven't read myself; and that's apparently a shame, according to my fellow book-loving geeks, given that Oates (a lit professor at Princeton) has been a multiple nominee over the years of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Faulkner Award and Orange Prize, not to mention the actual winner of an NBA (in 1970), a Stoker Award and a dozen other accolades. And this is to say nothing of The Gravedigger's Daughter in particular, which made the New York Times' "10 Most Notable Books of the Year" list last year; and of course all of this is small potatoes compared to the greatest achievement of Oates' entire career so far, making it into the Revered And Blessed Oprah's Book Club Hallowed Be Her Name Amen.So I checked it out and sat down a couple of weeks ago to read it; and then about a week later, found myself finally giving up on it for good around page 250 or so (or roughly halfway through), after two days of literally dreading the idea of even physically picking the book up again. So what happened? Well, to answer that, maybe it would be better for me to ask you a series of questions, questions I've been starting to wonder more and more about the longer CCLaP has been open. Ready?--Why is it that almost all novels revered by the academic community principally feature characters who are constantly in a state of being slightly miserable? And not miserable as in "interesting" miserable, but miserable as in "that whiny professor in the corner of the room who ruins every godd-mn party they're invited to" miserable?--Why is it that almost all award-winning novels go way out of their way, deliberately out of their way, to show off what pretty language that author knows, completely removing the reader from the natural pace and rhythm of the story itself? Why can no academically revered novel simply let the reader get lost in the actual story, which is the entire point of a novel even existing?*--Why is it that academes are so fascinated by mediocre EveryPeople living in bland surroundings, who do nothing with their unremarkable lives and yet somehow still manage to make a whole series of terrible life decisions? Why do so many people in the academic community think that this makes for fascinating literature, and why do they think we should sympathize or even care about such oblivious, socially retarded chumps?It's the great mystery of the arts, I'm beginning to understand, as CCLaP has me reading academically-revered award-winning novels on a regular basis for the first time in my life; that the exact novels most lauded by this community are the very ones least fitting the definition of an entertaining novel, the ones that instead most call attention to themselves as "precious works of art" more fit for years of overeducated analysis instead of simple pleasure. And in this I guess the so-called "mainstream literature" community is just like any community of genre fans as well, in that they are constantly in need of justifying their existence too, constantly in need of explaining why anyone should devote such time and energy doing delicate little analyses of barely readable books. It's disappointing to be sure, to realize that these revered prize lists are in actuality not a reliable way at all to simply find good books by good authors; it's a lesson about the arts I'm reminded of again by The Gravedigger's Daughter, a lesson I think I'll be paying more attention to in the future.Out of 10: 4.8*And since we're on the subject....Sheesh, Oates, will you please stop using exclamation marks! Over and over! In awkward places in your paragraphs! To make your point! Crazy you are driving me! Good literature this is not! Oh, and speaking of which, why like Yoda all your Jewish characters talk? Slightly offensive in a hazily defined way it is! UGH, this book drove me crazy.

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-02-25 17:55

    This was obviously a very beautiful book, coming from Joyce Carol Oates. It deals with Rebecca, the gravedigger's daughter, whose family moved to America just before the 2nd World War started. In many ways, this is a coming-of-age story because we get to hear about Rebecca's life from she's an infant till she's a grown woman. However, Oates' structure is beautifully puzzling as she starts the novel when Rebecca is in her twenties, on her way home from work. This is a story about struggles and how you often repeat patterns in your life, no matter how destructive they may be. It's very clear from the beginning that Rebecca sees herself as 'The Gravedigger's Daughter' because she is living with a constant, terrifying fear of her father who was a monster. Joyce Carol Oates writes beautifully about history and life, and some of her sentences are breath-taking. Meanwhile, I did miss some kind of resolution in the end, especially when it comes to specific characters that we hear nothing about. But other than that, this novel was stunning and it has peaked my interest to get to know Oates' works even better.

  • Robin
    2019-03-05 18:52

    This book would have had much higher marks from me if it would have ended differently.This is my first Joyce Carol Oates read and was for a face to face bookclub. In general I'm not drawn to "women in jepordy" stories but I'm always willing to give something new a try.I was drawn to the character Rebecca and wanted to see her life work out for the better. And ultimately things did get better for her. She finally did re-marry although she was permenently damaged from her first husband.The worst thing about this book is, for me it didn't seem to go anywhere. It was simply a chronical of her life. I expected the husband to show up in some climatic scene but he just simply vanished - discovered dead years ago. No phantom here.I'm also VERY confused by the way it ended. In San Francisco after her son plays in the piano concert...did he win? Did he continue with the piano? The letters in the epilogue seemed to indicate he did continue with the piano - but why did we end here? What was the ultimate conflict/resoution of this book? Am I just not "intelligent" enough to see some deeper meaning - did it pass over my head?Finally I was even more confused by the series of letters at the end. What a strange segue. They were desperate, pleading, from both sides two woman with only a passing shared past but somehow linked in a way that for me defied logic. The epilogue was so divergent from the rest of the book it was as if I went into a parallel dimension. I keep thinking there must be more "there" .... "there" but I did not see it. I'll be interesting to hear what the coversation goes like at the bookclub meeting.

  • Madeline
    2019-03-12 21:55

    I guess I liked this book, but reading it once is plenty for me. It was very well-written, but I just could not handle how ungodly depressing it was. Honestly, the main character can't seem to go ten pages without getting the shit kicked out of her (literally and figuratively) by all the Mean Bad Men in her life. First there's her father, who goes apeshit when his daughter dares to enter a spelling bee (I still don't get that); then there's her husband, who chooses beating the shit out of her as an acceptable courtship ritual; and then there's the guy she meets after leaving the husband, who never really did anything to her but creeped me out none the less. This book is basically a manual on Why Life Sucks For Everyone, and the worst part is, it doesn't even have an ending. You know those books that just stop? That's what The Gravedigger's Daughter does, and it is irritating. Fun Fact: I read the majority of this book on a 9-hour plane ride, and by doing so discovered a fun challenge: trying to read a book about how evil and crazy men are while 27 Dresses plays on the video screen directly above your line of vision. Looking up from my book about spousal abuse and depression, I would watch Katherine Heigal prancing around onscreen with James Marsden and all I could think was, "You stupid bitch, get away from him while you still can! He will get jealous and paranoid and the next thing you know, he's kicking you in the face for asking where he was all night."

  • Jenny
    2019-02-26 17:58

    Once again, I must diverge from the critics who loved this Joyce Carol Oates novel. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson with "We Were the Mulvaneys." I don't know where to start, so I'll just list the major problems: a bloated and disjointed narrative, overwrought prose, and a nonsensical epilogue. Good times...

  • Lori
    2019-03-04 21:16

    A character's worst fear should be to appear in a Joyce Carol Oates novel. It's pretty well guaranteed his or her like is going to suck.Still, though, I keep picking them up. And as decently written as they may be, I'm miserable right along with everyone else. There's never a glimmer of hope, a break from the compounding gloom. As a reader, the weight lands firmly on your shoulders for the length of the book. Join us for a walk of pain.Gravedigger's Daughter is no exception. I felt for the protagonist, I did. I was proud to watch her pull past her shameful upbringing. Glad to see her throw off the shackles of the abusive husband. Excited to observe her raise a piano prodigy.But you know what? The whole time, I knew: None of it would make her thrive. Each advance was some new twisted purgatory, and there was no chance for a happy ending.I was right.

  • Nate D
    2019-03-19 18:17

    I've not read a great deal of Joyce Carol Oates' copious publication list, but the Gravedigger's Daughter seems to be at the more reserved, conventional end of her spectrum. It is the story of a lifetime, a classic American lifetime from blighted immigrant upbringing to eventual success, or success-through-children as is often the case. In the meantime, much contemplation of the perils of being a women, and of being a single mother, and of being a foreigner. Of perseverance and the loneliness of steadfast purpose, and the necessary but insurmountably isolating walls we build. Strange that other reviews complain that the prose is excessive, as I would actually say that with her more markedly modernist or gothic tendancies reigned in somewhat, Oates' deft, precise touch for the description of details both internal and external is her strongest asset. Her words are crisp and effective, and occasionally glittering, without ever slowing from a brisk and utterly readable presentation. Which is to say that this reads essentially like the literary bestseller that it was, I suppose. I have to admit that such heartfelt realist narratives aren't entirely to my taste these days, but I managed not to be bored for almost 600 pages, which says something. Slows a bit towards the end (inevitably, I was more interested in the protagonist's tumultous youth than ever more stable middle age) but even then, Oates chooses her scenes well to keep things moving along. Oh, and Oates can't possibly shake off her all her gothic predilections, either -- one seemingly inconsequential point resurafaces rather startlingly, tying things a little tighter than expected. And now time to go back to some bizarro sci-fi or something....Lengthy past thoughts at the mid-point: For christmas. This is something like Joyce Carol Oates' 53rd novel (not exaggerating, she's written at least one a year for the length of her productive career, plus buckets of stories). And I'll admit, though I loved her eerie 1976 5-voice stream-of-consciousness nocturne Childwold (a totally random used bookshop selection whose design and first page seemed perfect), that I'm always a little unsure of picking up her others. Why? Because they can't all be good, can they? And I can't possibly dig through all of them in search of more Childwold-caliber material (it's barely on goodreads, and the reviews that there are are pretty middling). And I hear lots of conflicting things about her. Some people complain about her often dense prose and weirdo gothic modernism, some seem to steer clear based on the mass exposure and Oprah-book-clubbing of We Were the Mulvaneys which seems to suggest over-sentiment or something (what it probably actually suggests is overwhelming tragedy, sentimental or not). Some complain that her entire catalog is solid but increasingly redundant as you read more and more of it. So, tricky. So I'm actually pretty grateful for this well-placed gift, to slice through my indecision. And so how is this? I'd worried that modern, more popular Oates might be a little more conservative in prose style, and compared to Childwold, it certainly is. But by normal bestseller standards, it's clear that Oates can really write. With sharp, finely-worked prose, with a decent sense of how to juggle chronology for juxtaposition and pacing, with conviction and convincing voice and convincing, lived sense of the inevitability of tragedy (and a little of that Faulknerian sense of familial doom). So it's pretty good. It captures well the sadness of being alive, the sadness of being an immigrant, The Sadness of Being a Girl (borrowing the phrase from an old Vietnamese psych rock song from this comp), which is what I gather a lot of "serious" (i.e. non-gothic, non-pseudonym) Oates is essentially concerned with. But at 600 hundred pages, a lot of this seems inessential, too. Rebecca Schwart's story is perhaps sadly quintessential, and the prose is great line-for-line, but there's nothing here that burns to be spoken, exactly, or that burns to be spoken slowly, over hundreds of pages of carefully-wrought description. (The inessentialness of a long, dense career, maybe. The inessentialness of telling things in great detail just because you can. Or maybe I've been spoiled by compact, concise storytelling lately.) But this sill moves well under its own momentum. I guess I'll have to see where the second half takes me.

  • Christina
    2019-02-27 23:19

    This is a book about identity, about coming to terms with your past and being who you are. About family, battered women and their husbands. About the immigrant experience.Oates details the story of Rebecca Schwart's life from her earliest childhood and on. Rebecca is the third child of poor, immigrant Jewish parents who arrived in the States in the 30 and Rebecca was actually born in New York Harbor, making her a US citizen as the only one in the family.The book starts with Rebecca thinking back on her parents - and we learn that her father came to a violent end, but not how - I was instantly hooked. Then the book follows Rebecca in her life as a wife to Niles Tignor and mother of little Niley (Niles Jr.) with flashes back to her childhood with a father being more and more mad and feeling like it was them against the others. He forbade Rebecca's mother to speak German and in that way stripped her of her ability to communicate and be an individual and he controlled everything in the house. In Germany, he was a teacher and a cultured man - in the States he works as the gravedigger doing manual labor and is not respected at all - he and his family are actually victims of some anti-semitic 'jokes', both real and imagined.In Rebecca's current life, she is married and a mother - but her husband perhaps isn't all he claimed to be and Rebecca has to escape with Niley and she starts a new life - as Hazel Jones. She chooses that name because she meets a man one day who thinks she's Hazel Jones and she stars believing she could be.The truth of that encounter is revealed towards the end of the book - in a way, only Oates can pull off.But Hazel manages to - cunningly - create a new life and two new identities for her and her little boy, Zacharias who turns out to be a wonderful piano player - a skill he inherited from his maternal grandmother.In the end, Rebecca comes full circle and face to face with her past.As always, I love the way Oates writes. She seems so in control of her language and her story and characters and everything works together beautifully. Her way of letting a person's thoughts and imaginations being part of the text but written in cursive, makes the characters have so much depth and this was another wonderful book by her.I always say - and write - that Oates write about the American dream gone bad. In this book, she doesn't. Rebecca actually achieve the American dream - she creates a great life for herself and her son. But she does so at a cost - no one knows who she actually is (except Niley/Zacharias who grows detached because of this shared, but hidden, knowledge) and she constantly wears a facade as the perfect woman, always smiling, always pleasing her man. She pays a huge price for this, her chosen way of life - and even though she had to go into hiding to get away from her abusive husband, the question remains whether the way she chose to do it was worth it in the end.And she learns the wisdom of her father's advice: In animal life the weak are quickly disposed of. So you must hide your weakness, Rebecca. We must.. And she does.

  • gorecki
    2019-02-17 20:04

    When I reached for my first book by Joyce Carol Oates, The Gravedigger's Daughter, I must admit I was expecting a somewhat sugar-coated and sweetened novel about a poor little girl, daughter of refugees from pre-war Germany, who grows up being mocked and bullied by her peers. I was somewhat expecting a novel about pity and unfair treatment. Probably it was the book cover that added a lot in forming this wrong expectation of mine. And while in a sense, I did find pity and drama in this book, they were far from the sugar-coated and sweet, naive rendition I expected. This is a book with a lot of blood, guts, and madness in it.The Gravedigger's Daughter is a novel about growing up in an unhealthy environment, in which everyone slowly looses their mind, sense of reality, or sense of right and wrong. Rebecca Schwart grows up being a part of German disfunctional family of refugees that treat the outer world as a constant threat, everyone else (them, the others) as constantly mocking and will-intentioned, while the family itself is the only place you are being kept safe. As long as you keep your mouth shut. German becomes a forbidden language even behind the closed doors of home, while English is a language still unknown and foreign. Background and history are never to be talked about and every memory of the old world is to be forgotten. The past has never happened and the future is something that "they, the others" have already taken. And while the family is trying to stay safe from "them, the others", it slowly grinds itself down into hatred, madness, and death. Growing up in such a dark and cold environment in a corner of a cemetary until a tragedy follows as the result of a horrific and destructive crime, Rebecca is being dragged out into the open world of "the others" where years later, walking home to her 3-year-old son she meets Hazel Jones. The idea of Hazel Jones. In this novel we follow the struggle for survival of a young woman trying to keep her son safe, while constantly playing Tag with reality and sanity. This gripping novel takes us through the thoughts and actions of a woman very close to losing her mind so many times, while at other times being extremely sharp and clear-minded. A woman trying to build a safe future for herself and her son, while still dragging the shackles of her past with her. A past she is doing her best to hide from, but one that closely follows her everywhere.I was so enthralled by this book that I could not stop reading it for days. But as much as I loved it, I must admit that the ending was a bit too vague for my personal taste. Joyce Carol Oates is a remarkable storyteller, her prose is swift and silky, the story unravels in a perfect pace and with great detail that is rarely superfluous or tedious, but towards the last 100-150 pages I felt a slight shift in its focus, a slight uncertainty in where it's all headed to. Even though I am not in love with the ending itself, however, I am still very fascinated with Oates writing and am already looking forward to reading my next book by her.

  • Ruth
    2019-03-20 01:05

    This was my necessary breezy read after the last one. It's the second thing I've read by this author, who seems to be really well-appreciated by the world, but I am still ambivalent about her work. It is easy to get into but also easy to fall right back out of- I guess that's what I will say. She is very prolific, though- it could be that I'm just reading the wrong things. This one is about a woman who has a really hard childhood and young adulthood and gets a lot of abuse, and then she goes on and makes a life for herself by having this kind of double identity and smiling a lot and never trusting anybody. There are some interesting things about immigration, and maybe gender, the holocaust...

  • Lucinda K
    2019-03-10 20:57

    If there were six or seven stars to give them to this book, I would think that not enough! It has more than earned a place on my Favorites shelf. Now my favorite Oates novel out of the 20 or so (I lost count) of her books I’ve read.And what is it about? A “Graveddigger’s Daughter”? Yes. But also memory, perspective, and history intersecting, specifically during and especially in the decades following World War II in a culture somehow drowning deep in and yet distant from the war's reality. It’s about the politics of gender and of relationships both in general and in specific situations. It’s about intersecting and contrasting perspectives but needs no heavy handed narrative device of “this is Hazel’s chapter, now Zack’s chapter, now Gallagher’s chapter.” And it prudently leaves in darkness the characters whose minds it couldn’t have penetrated and lets them puzzle and haunt us.Oates doesn’t take on a single challenge this novel cannot meet. She never twists the plot, complicates a character, or even executes a sentence for the sake of showing us what she can do. She doesn’t need to. I came with high expectations because of praise and recommendations from friends. But I came, nevertheless, to a book by an author whose assets I thought I had appraised quite well. I’ve come away with new respect for what she can really do. What a priceless experience to be convinced me that one of my two favorite living authors is even better than I thought she was! Despite my usual inclination to hold an editor’s pen in my mind and rewrite anything I thought I could improve, all I ever wanted to do was trade a comma for a semicolon, combine sentences, or perhaps strike out an adjective every 50 pages or so. And even then, a part of me screamed, “Don’t touch anything!” I kept wondering how long it took Oates to write this novel (which I intend to find out if I can) and how many times she read it herself to perfect it. Some readers have criticized Oates for “dashing off” or “churning out” book after book with, they contend, some disregard for quality. With all due respect for them but despite my usual reluctance to argue about such things, I’d aggressively question anyone who said Oates “churned out” or “dashed off” this incredible book. (Knowing Oates, however, I’ll bet that she did write it far more quickly than would seem possible to me. She’s done that with numerous books.).I’d recommend the novel highly to almost anyone and am certain that I’ll be reading it again someday, perhaps even more than once. I absolutely loved it!

  • Deb
    2019-03-09 00:03

    Joyce Carol Oates is probably our most prolific writer. I've read so many of her novels, and she always gets me in her spell. She often writes of troubled young women who become victims to brutish men because of making bad choices and having low self-esteem. She has killer lines, which she often uses as repetitive phrases or tropes effectively throughout the book. She can do so much in one line, for example:"Mrs. Chester GallagherEach time she signed her new name it seemed to her that her handwriting was subtly altered."

  • Lectrice Hérétique
    2019-02-18 18:22

    À force de lire Joyce Carol Oates, je vais finir par être à court de mots pour en parler. Oates nous livre ici un destin de femme, (pourtant pile le genre de sujet qui normalement me passe au-dessus) et fait encore mieux qu’avec Les Chutes. Oui, c’est possible. Le récit est beaucoup moins linéaire et les digressions chères à Oates sont légion. Les non-dits, les allusions, les souvenirs rassemblés comme les pièces d’un puzzle sont autant de moyens de nous immerger dans la vie chaotique de Rebecca. Le déracinement qui aura eu raison de ses parents est un thème majeur du roman, car tout commence avec la dégringolade sociale des Schwart. Tout découle de cette immigration subie, où l’amertume prend le pas sur le soulagement d’avoir survécu et échappé à l’horreur. L’obligation pour les enfants, et surtout pour Rebecca, de paraître fort en toute circonstances, de ne pas faiblir, pour ne pas être éliminé, sera un lourd fardeau pour les petits Schwart. L’enfance de Rebecca est des plus noires, née sur le bateau, elle n’a pas connu l’Allemagne, ni la vie d’avant, quand ses parents étaient heureux. Rebecca hérite d’un passé qui lui est inconnu, d’une aigreur nocive qui tue ses parents à petit feu. C’est dans ce contexte joyeux qu’elle finira par vivre sa vie de femme et de jeune mère. La vie de Rebecca est une suite de péripéties faite d’amour, de peur, de soumission, de doutes, et de prises de conscience. Devenue femme, il lui faudra assimiler ses traumatismes et se libérer de ses peurs et de ses doutes, dans un perpétuel mouvement de fuite. Le dénouement est assez inattendu, autant dans le fond que dans la forme et mérite son pesant de kleenex. Si vous avez aimé Les Chutes, vous allez adorer La fille du fossoyeur.

  • Hannah
    2019-03-18 01:03

    I'm still up in the air about whether I liked this book or not. I picked it up because I had heard of the author, but have never read anything by her before. It is the story of Rebecca, the daughter of German immigrants to America. The father was a Math teacher, but takes the only job that he can in America, digging graves. The family tries to assimilate to America, while at the same time maintaining their prejudices and believes about Americans.The story is very violent as Rebecca deals with an abusive and mentally unstable father and depressive mother. When she finally escapes, she marries an abusive husband. She then goes on the run from him with their son and assumes yet another identity.I found the book very negative, however I don't think the author meant it to be. I would read and think "What else? What else can happen to this woman?" But Rebecca never feels pity for herself. And in a way, I didn't care for her because we never learned about the emotion and the drive behind her life choices. She was intensely private, so much so that a lot of her was shielded from the reader.Yet I thought the story was fascinating and even though there were many twists and turns, I was intrigued by all of them.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-25 18:53

    This story depicts the tale of the Shwarts who, in the mid 1930s, fled Nazi Germany and have been reduced to life in a tiny cottage while their father, a former school teacher, can only find work as a cemetary caretaker. Perceived and actual intolerance by members of the community only exacerbate the family's frail mental health and, ultimately, tragedy strikes when our protagonist, Rebecca, is only 13 years old. The reader witnesses Rebecca's trials of youth, her struggles to escape an abusive relationship to save herself and her son, and her attempts to eradicate her past and create a new life for herself. The book is emotionally provocative and touches many heavy themes: abuse, murder, religious intolerance, socioeconomic distinctions, corrupt authorities, etc. I was moved by the book and touched by the ending. Although the book is blunt and harsh, there's a glimmer of hope and redemption threaded throughout, and a promise that people *can* rise above darkness.

  • Angie
    2019-03-05 22:03

    Just finished. I'm guilty of needing books with "purpose". Not necessarily happy endings, but at least fulfilling on some level. This left me feeling empty and adrift. Not satisfied in any way. "We Were the Mulvaneys" was the first book I ever read by Oates. I thought it was magnificent. So raw and frighteningly truthful. It caused me to seek out her other works. But this...this left me wanting, and not in a good way. It actually gave me a headache. I don't know, maybe it was just too much of a cultural difference for me to "get it". Maybe it's just too deep for me. Who knows. It was certainly a disappointment.

  • Irina Cebanu
    2019-03-17 21:54

    Oates' style is the most beautiful I've yet encountered, non-sophisticated, but appealing at the same time. It's not plain, but not overabundant in complicated words either. The descriptions aren't boring, the story goes smoothly and the characters are 3D. Intrigued to read other Oates' books.

  • Bruce
    2019-03-09 00:22

    This novel is narrated by the main character, Rebecca, in the third person, primarily using free indirect discourse. Oates’ style is to make liberal use of sentence fragments, and these seem consistent with the FID approach. The initial section of the first of three parts of the book reveals Rebecca as a young woman of about 23, working in a sweatshop factory to support herself and her three-year-old son. Her husband, Niles Trignor, is often away from home at unknown locations for days and weeks at a time and is narcissistic and abusive, Rebecca accepting the passive role as her lot and making no attempt to challenge him or extricate herself from the situation. References are made to her hatred of her deceased father, who seems to have died violently.The second major section of the novel jumps back to Rebecca’s childhood. Her parents were immigrants from Germany in 1936, settling in rural upstate New York. Her two older brothers traveled across the Atlantic with her parents, but she was actually born on the ship in NY Harbor, just as they arrived in the US. Her father, a university-educated high school math teacher in Germany (and the narrative suggests that the family is Jewish, although the parents deny and hate Judaism), is given the job of cemetery caretaker and gravedigger. Rebecca’s home life is very emotionally impoverished and physically abusive.Oates’ use of dialogue is skillful; each character speaks distinctively, consistent with his or her personality, contributing to Oates’ development of psychology and plot.Among other things, this novel is an exploration of the role and experience of the outsider, the “other.” And of the extent to which environment determines one’s character and fate. Rebecca’s family is accused of being Jewish, “Krauts,” Nazis, and their place as poor, uneducated, of marginal occupation make them perfect targets for the citizens of their small community. This part of the novel draws to a close as the mystery of what happened to Rebecca’s parents is revealed. After a few chapters outlining her life during the following few years, Niles Tignor enters the story. He and Rebecca eventually marry, largely because she will only submit to him sexually if they are married. Their relationship, which becomes physically abusive to her (she accepts that as “what she deserves”), is based on his intense sexual desire for her and her need to be needed and desired, there being little mutual sharing in any other way - she knows little about him and is not welcome to ask. One wonders how her background has driven this dynamic. Finally, after another severe beating from her “husband” (having learned that her marriage might not be valid), Rebecca flees with her son, thus ending Part I of three parts of the novel.Oates has skillfully crafted an atmosphere that is oppressive and claustrophobic, the reader being powerfully drawn into Rebecca’s consciousness. The metaphors in this writing are sharp and effective, often passing subliminally in the reader’s own awareness.In Part II, having changed her name and that of her son, Rebecca (now “Hazel”) works in a variety of menial jobs in a series of small towns in Upstate New York, always on the move, always providing little information about her background to those who ask. And increasingly the narrative moves into using free indirect discourse to explore the consciousness of “Zack,” her son. During the following few years, Hazel establishes a new identity, gradually becoming less vigilant about being found by Tignor. She is romantically pursued by Chet Gallagher, a well-to-do jazz pianist who is emotionally estranged from his wealthy family and very needy in his own right. Zack, in the meantime, is proving to be a musical prodigy, excelling at the piano. But Hazel continues to be wary, refusing to commit herself to a new relationship and hiding all aspects of her background. Eventually, though, she and Zack move in with Gallagher. Later, Hazel learns that Tignor is dead. Part III, containing an Epilogue, is by far the shortest part of the novel. The denouement is as fitting as it is unexpected and thought-provoking.This is a masterfully written novel, technically skillful and emotionally insightful, opening up new worlds and experiences to the reader and thus enlarging the reader’s own humanity, a privilege to have read and pondered.

  • Laurie
    2019-02-24 17:13

    This was a very hard book to read. It’s not that it is poorly written; it’s that the protagonist’s situation struck a raw note and was so painful for me to read about. Rebecca Schwart’s life is all about fear. From the time she is a small child, fear rules her life. Daughter of immigrants who fled the Nazis, she lives in horrible poverty, her father being reduced from a high school math teacher in Germany to a cemetery caretaker in America. Understandably bitter by their reduced circumstances and the way they are treated by Americans, her father is authoritarian and abusive, taking his anger and defeat out on his family. Rebecca learns to be what her father wants her to be to keep things running smoothly. After tragedy turns her out on her own, she uses this talent of being what others want her to be to her advantage. It keeps her alive through brutal marriage; it enables her to run and start a new life. Sadly, although Rebecca (now living under the name of Hazel Jones- even that name is a case of her becoming what someone else wants her to be) manages to make her way to a good life, she loses herself. She’s incredibly perceptive as to what people want, and very adept at giving them that. While she certainly has standards- she is firm as to what lines she will not cross- she does not present her real self to a single person. She is more mirror than human. It’s what most every person in an abusive relationship learns to do; Rebecca just takes it much further than most do. After getting involved with her first husband, she has not pursued a single thing she really wanted to do other than raise her beloved and musically gifted son. In this novel of 580 pages, we never do find out what Rebecca wanted out of life other than to raise her son safely. It’s a powerful book. I found it painfully long and slow, but could not stop reading, wondering if Rebecca could keep up the act and not make a misstep that would cause her house of cards to tumble down. If you want to see some of the psychological effects of being in an abusive, manipulative, relationship are, read this book. If you have been in that kind of relationship, you might find this book to be very triggering.

  • Debbie
    2019-03-14 19:14

    I've read her short stories but this is my first novel. She can surely write. I love her style and while the story is quite graphic in its violence and abuse, it was not gratuitous, but necessary, handled well. It was a story of survival, escape. One family escapes the holocaust only to confront isolation and prejudice in America, eventually leading a father to insanity and self-destruction. The journey of the surviving daughter reveals another from of persecution--the persecution of women/ a woman. Still, she manages to survive by using the male's vulnerability to sexual manipulation to her advantage. She also survives by giving up her identity in order to hide from her first abusive relationship. That she escaped persecution of Jews only to be forced to give up her identity to escape persecution from an abusive man is rather ironic. In fact, this irony comes back at the end of the novel. The irony of two types of persecutions. Two ways of escape.The other family in the background (until the end) are Rebecca's cousins, who do not escape Germany. Rebecca's cousin, close in age to Rebecca, loses her family to the holocaust; however she survives. Unlike Rebecca, she embraces her identity, even writes a book about her tragedy, exaggerating in order to exploit. The irony of this story of escape and survival is complex and fascinating. I love how Oates turns it around, shows the communication in the end as a way of revealing the similarities and differences of character, the similarities and differences of different types of persecution. An interesting and complex way of ending the story.I enjoyed it.

  • Joy H.
    2019-03-15 20:58

    I have finished reading TGD. As I have said, it was a great story, stylishly written... and the ending was a good one, except for some questions the book has left me with. In the final pages we read letters from a cousin of the main character. The cousin was a holocaust survivor and in her letter makes some vague references to the holocaust. One letter reads as follows: "... the holocaust was an accident in history as all events in history are accidents... The pious fantasizers wish to claim that the Nazi's genocidal campaign was a singular event in history, that it has elevated us above history. This is bullshit... There are many genocides, so long as there has been mankind. History is an invention of books."I wondered if the cousin were trying to minimize the holocaust and why. I wonder what Joyce Carol Oates was trying to say by including that passage in the final pages of the book. It seemed to suddenly shift the emphasis of the story in some way. I was left off balance. I had expected closure of some sort for the main character. She had finally survived her terrible life's journey and had also located her long lost cousin. But the long lost cousin takes the book into what seems to be an ambiguous and unsettling tangent. Could it be that Oates had intended the book's ending to be unsettling and controversial? Maybe.=======================================================================You may also be interested in my discussion topic at: ====>

  • Alisa
    2019-02-28 01:16

    The first half of this novel was so angry, practically dripping with Jacob Schwart's spittle-rage and Tignor's controlling misogyny! The unpleasant feeling of reading about all this anger, together with the deft anxiety-inducing plot, made me read fast, fast, fast, barely skimming some sections. It is a tribute to the author's ability that I kept reading at all. A less well-written book I certainly would've put down. But Rebecca's unique survival story, one in which she crafts a new identity to serve as a camouflaged flak jacket, was compelling enough to keep me going. I found the ending just as satisfying as a novel like this can provide. No, it doesn't paint a rosy picture of long-lost cousins hugging and becoming the true selves they've been hiding for decades. To do so would be counter to the grim reality of the book. If you are an optimistic reader, feel free to imagine that happy scene and the happy life of married-with-children Zack. Or not, if you aren't so optimistic.

  • Tina
    2019-03-14 18:54

    I love Joyce Carol Oates. This book, though, like some others she has written, left me with a hole. There were several unresolved issues in the book. I can understand why some of the issues were unresolved, such as Rebecca's parents' stories and backgrounds in Germany. I can even understand why the brothers were never found. But there were these phrases that Oates kept returning to, such as the final one, "There should be some reason she survived," (p. 551). I feel like Oates was trying to bring more realism to her story, because people are always questioning their lives, etc., but I kept feeling Rebecca would answer how own question at some point. And the epilogue...creating more issues that are never resolved.

  • Jinger
    2019-02-23 23:18

    Another epic story from Oates, but I really lost interest in it halfway though.It infuriates me how no one in Oates's novels ever says what they feel or actually mean (as least not the antagonists). When a character comes along that does express himself, he's often made to look ridiculous and embarrassing. I can't help but think that these stories would be half as long if people just spoke candidly. I know that's not exactly suspenseful, but it's excruciating to read about someone sidestepping honest questions and emotions for 600 pages or so.

  • Ksenia Anske
    2019-03-15 21:55

    Raw and gritty and saucy and rich. And tremulous. And reflective. And melancholy. The prose of life, of American life. Of a woman, told by a woman. After this book I want to read everything Joyce Carol Oates has ever written.

  • TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
    2019-03-01 01:05

    When I pick up a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, I want to feel I’m in the hands of a writer who really knows what she’s doing. Oates has published so many books, I’ve lost count of just how many, though I’m pretty certain this is her thirty-sixth novel. But even though I want to trust this author to take me on an interesting and unforgettable literary journey, there’s always been something about Oates’ work that won’t let me get truly involved. Some of her books, like Soltice, just leave me cold, while others, like American Appetites and Blonde are books I enjoyed, to an extent, but still couldn’t find any connection with the characters. Still others, like Bellefleur, are books I thought I might love, but books I gave up on and didn’t even finish. So, when I decided to read The Gravedigger’s Daughter, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea if I was going to love the book, hate it, or something in between, but enough time had gone by since my previous attempt at reading Oates to give one of her books another try.The Gravedigger’s Daughter is the story of Rebecca Schwart, whose family fled Nazi Germany in 1936 for a small town a little south of Niagara Falls. Rebecca, herself, was born on the ship while it was in New York Harbor. Although her father, Jacob Schwart, was a well-liked math teacher at a Munich boys’ school, as well as a skilled pressman, in America, the only job Jacob can get is that of a gravedigger in semi-rural Milburn, New York. By this time, Jacob is “...a broken man...a man whose guts had been eaten out by rats.” He and his family, which includes his half-mad wife, Anna, take up residence in a small stone cottage near the cemetery gate. In a nice bit of symbolism, the very water the Schwart family drinks is polluted with the spirits of the dead.Rebecca’s eldest brother Herschel, a ne’er-do-well who forgets his German without ever gaining a mastery of English, flees town after committing a crime. The younger son, August, also walks away from Jacob after enduring one too many cruelties. Both brothers leave without so much as a “goodbye” for their little sister, Rebecca. It isn’t that they didn’t like her. They’ve just learned what their father has always taught them: “Never say it.” Let the past be the past; let it, like the family’s Jewishness, remain dead and buried.For Jacob and Anna, however, the past can never truly be left in the past; it can never really die. Jacob grows more and more haunted by the Nazi demons he wanted to leave behind, and more specifically by an act of betrayal he committed in order to get his family out of Germany. His past, in combination with his prejudiced and humiliated present, finally drives Jacob to an incredible act of violence and cruelty that both traumatizes Rebecca and yet frees her to go into the world alone and reshape her life.Male violence is a theme Oates has revisited time and time again, and I have no doubt she’ll revisit it in future books as well. At least three times in this book, Rebecca Schwart flees male violence. Despite the fact that Jacob Schwart used to tell his daughter, “You are born here, they will not hurt you,” Rebecca learns that yes, indeed, people will hurt her, and they do. In one of the novel’s creepiest set pieces, Rebecca encounters a man on the path she takes home from work, only to discover later that he’s a serial killer with many victims, and that she, herself, almost joined their ranks. And, in another nice bit of symbolism, Rebecca recalls how the only game she ever played with her father was one in the cemetery, in which Jacob pretended not to see her. Rebecca knows that “Rebecca Schwart” needs to disappear. For good. And so, after one violent episode, Rebecca renames herself “Hazel Jones,” not knowing that Hazel Jones is the name of a woman who died at the hands of a violent man; her young son, Niley becomes Zacharias. Still, Rebecca will learn, as did her parents, that our past is always with us, no matter how hard we try to deny and outrun it.For Rebecca Schwart’s past comes to haunt even Hazel Jones. She remembers how, as a young child, when she was still Rebecca, she was told the Morgensterns were coming to live with her own family, and she would have a big sister in her cousin, Freyda Morgenstern. The ship the Morgensterns were traveling on was turned away from the US and sent back to Germany, however, and the entire Morgenstern family was thought to have died. All the Schwarts have left of the Morgenstern family is an old photograph, and Rebecca spends much time gazing at the little girl who looks out at her from the photo. Freyda Morgenstern finally becomes an imaginary friend, and one that Rebecca will encounter much later in her life, after she’s left at least the financial poverty of the past behind for a life of wealth and privilege.I thought Rebecca/Hazel was a fully realized and complex character, and though Oates certainly wants us to sympathize/empathize with her, she isn’t afraid to let us see the real Rebecca/Hazel, warts and all. And Rebecca/Hazel certainly has faults. She’s far from perfect, and I greatly preferred her that way. The secondary characters – Jacob, Anna, Herschel, and August – weren’t given such complexity. They have their identities, assigned to them by Oates, and they act in accordance with these assigned identities. They aren’t caricatures, by any means, but neither do they thrive.The writing, of course, is Joyce Carol Oates, and Oates does have a unique style, though I would never term her a “prose stylist” in the sense of say, Edna O’Brien. Oates’ writing, to me, always seems a little heavy and turbulent and at odds with itself, and even, at times, rushed. In The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Oates had a maddening habit of using “that” instead of “which” in a nonrestrictive clause, e.g., “...most of the papers continued to run Chet Gallagher’s column, that had won national awards.” At first, I thought it might be an attempt at a new stylistic device, but later, I decided no, it was far too awkward and ugly for that. It was carelessness, and I’m very surprised at such carelessness in a writer with as many books under her belt as Oates.The Gravedigger’s Daughter is at its most engaging when Rebecca/Hazel is narrating, and especially when she’s describing her growing love for Chet Gallagher, son of a wealthy family, who plays jazz piano and wants Rebecca to let him give both her and Niley/Zach a new chance at life. The book loses power when Oates switches to the very angry Niley/Zach’s point of view or to Chet’s, even when they are talking about Rebecca/Hazel. Unfortunately, Niley/Zach and Chet simply aren’t as complex or as interesting as Rebecca.I’ve already mentioned the rich symbolism to be found in this book. There are many vivid descriptions as well. For example, Jacob is described as a “...troll a creature who has emerged from the earth, slightly bent, broken-backed and with his head carried at an awkward angle so that he seemed always to be peering at the world suspiciously.” Now that is really first rate writing.For those readers who are putting off reading the book lest it be too depressing, never fear. Though it tackles weighty themes – male violence, the Holocaust, the guilt of survivors – this is not a depressing book. On the other hand, it’s not exactly life affirming, either. And there’s no lightness or joy in this book. I guess I would call it “interesting” and “gritty.” At times the narrative was possessed of such grittiness that I felt I had to take a long, hot shower, and that might not be a bad thing as far as this book goes. (I shower or bathe every night, regardless.) At other times, the book felt very courageous. Anyone who’s read much of Oates’ work will know that she has a penchant for melodrama, and she likes to pin her novels to some “big event” that happened in the past. And so it is in The Gravedigger’s Daughter. Any book that contains as much violence and anger as this one is going to slip into melodrama at times, though for the most part, Oates does manage to keep it under control. Of course, the “big event” in this book is the Holocaust, though this is not, in any way, a “Holocaust book,” at least it’s not to my way of thinking.I like ambiguous endings in books. I don’t need everything tied up in a nice, neat little package like it’s waiting for Christmas morning. Some authors try so hard to come up with the “perfect” ending that the result is an ending that just doesn’t work, that’s not organic, that doesn’t flow from the events that took place in the book. Better, I think, to leave some things open-ended. That said, the ending Oates wrote for The Gravedigger’s Daughter was just beyond the pale. I thought there were pages missing from my book. Really. I’m still not totally convinced there aren’t. I stayed up last night to finish this book, and the ending left me dazed and confused. I have no idea what I was supposed to take from that. If anyone does, please let me in on the secret.And of course, there’s the epilogue. The epilogue takes place twenty-five years after the events in the novel proper, and it consists of an exchange of letters between a sixty-two year old Hazel, who is now Rebecca again, and her long lost cousin, Freyda Morgenstern, who apparently did not perish at sea. At first, I loved this epilogue. It brings the novel full circle and plunges Rebecca back into the midst of her family again, even if the person pulling her in is a long lost cousin she’s never even met. Rebecca and Freyda never seem to be on the same page, however. One seems to want the relationship, while the other does not, then the tide turns, and the pursuer becomes the pursued. I thought the point of these letters was to show us that one can change his or her name over and over again, but one really can’t cut family ties. The family Rebecca ran away from as a young woman is the family she needs in middle age. Now, however, I’m not so sure of the point. For me, that’s typical with Joyce Carol Oates. She often raises more questions than she answers.Most of Oates’ books do end with a question, but it’s a question that has some relevance to all that has gone before. I’ve never seen an Oates’ ending quite like this one before. The final words of the book – “Yet I think I should come to Lake Worth, to see you. Should I?” – just sort of leave the reader with a sense of disbelief more than anything else, I think. I could feel my thoughts reverberating through the silence. Maybe that’s the point. Once again, I don’t know. For a while last night, I thought that after thirty-six novels and sixty odd books, Joyce Carol Oates just didn’t care, and if readers didn’t like the way she ended her books, well, they could just go write their own and end them any darn way they pleased.So, did I like the book, or did I dislike the book? I’m not sure. I know I didn’t love it. I don’t think many/any readers are going to love this book. This isn’t Possession or Great Expectations or Jane Eyre or The Woman in White where readers turn the last page, close the book, sigh, and say, “Wow! What a book!” I did, however, greatly admire the book. I felt I learned something, but I’m not sure what. I think every reader is going to react very differently to this book, much more so than with most books from other authors.All in all, I’m glad I read The Gravedigger’s Daughter, and I’m glad I revisited Oates. Now, I wonder how long it’ll be before I’m tempted to pick up another one of this very polarizing author’s books. Honestly, I have no idea.4.5/5Recommended: This is Joyce Carol Oates. Read at your own peril.Note: Oates has said she based this novel, in part, on her maternal great-grandmother, who, she learned, was Jewish. For those of you who aren't familiar with Joyce Carol Oates, many of her books take place in upper New York state, the place where Oates, herself, is from.You can find my book reviews, tips for writers and aspiring writers, etc. at

  • Sara
    2019-03-01 20:00

    Had to renew this one it took so long to slog through. I picked it up because a dear friend, whose literary taste I trust, LOVES Oates and Oates is so prolific that I figured, if I loved her too, I'd have lots of future reading material. But, ugh! I didn't love it!! Maybe it was this particular choice, Merzy??? Anyway, this is a tough story of Jewish refugees who land in New York state during WWII. They live a brutal life. The titular daughter, though, ends up doing pretty darn well (I was very worried that would change at the end, making me dislike the book even more, but (spoiler alert!!) it thankfully did not) and I was most certainly cheering for her and her prodigy (but worrisome) son. The end, told in letters, was odd, but compelling and heartening. I did not love the writing. There were, to my taste, too many fragments and intentional literary flourishes. I'm anxious to hear Merzy's response, to see if this is an Oates outlier. Whether it is or not, I was not particularly excited about this one.

  • Rubi
    2019-03-05 00:57

    Una historia que no te deja indiferente, va de la vida de la hija de unos refugiados que llegaron a E.U. huyendo de los nazis; pero en realidad reseña la lucha de una mujer por enfrentar la vida, narra como encara lo que la vida le pone, abandonando el papel de víctima y decidiendo ser lo que ella quiere, por lo mismo, es dolorosa pero muy real.Al final de cuentas, no importa lo que pase en nuestra vida importa las decisiones que tomamos, somos el fiel resultado de cada una de ellas.A story that does not leave you indifferent, goes from the life of the daughter of refugees who arrived in U.S.A. fleeing from the Nazis; but in reality he describes the struggle of a woman to face life, tells how she faces what life puts her, abandoning the role of victim and deciding to be what she wants, so it is painful but very real.At the end of the day, no matter what happens in our lives matters the decisions we make, we are the faithful result of each one of them.

  • Juliana Kulak
    2019-03-10 23:01

    I was hooked at the begininng, but as I read there were a couple parts that I wasn't crazy about. Especially during the parts with her parents and brothers, it was kind of hard to read. Though I am glad that I finished the book, I did not like the ending at all!

  • Richard Harvey
    2019-03-13 23:53

    A wonderful multi-layered novel of penetrating psychological insight and human understanding from a master.