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3.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,614 Ratings  ·  433 Reviews
A young girl's disappearance rocks a community and a family, in this stirring examination of grief, faith, justice, and the atrocities of war, the latest from literary legend Joyce Carol Oates

Zeno Mayfield's daughter has disappeared into the night, gone missing in the wilds of the Adirondacks. But when the community of Carthage joins a father's frantic search for the girl,
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Ecco (first published January 1st 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 11, 2014 christa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the truth as I imagine it: Joyce Carol Oates, so full of words that they tumble out of her and so she has to just put them places. Into novels, that’s the obvious answer. When they’re coming too quickly to sort, poems. Tweets, that’s healthy, too. Then there are the looped letters in the foggy mirror and etchings with her thumb nail into the soft wood of park benches.

She’s a different kind of person’s Stephen King. Or maybe she’s the same person’s kind of Stephen King, but in a differen
Mar 13, 2014 Cindy rated it did not like it
There are plenty of plot synopses available at this point, so I'm going to focus my review on just my thoughts about the book.

I really wanted to find another way to describe my feelings about Carthage other than "I hated it", but that is truly the most honest. I struggled to pick it up, read it, and get through it. The only reason I kept plugging away is that I was hoping to get a satisfying resolution to the story, but I felt like it just petered out and I didn't even get that.

The reasons for m
Diane S ⛄
3.5 Had a hard time with this one, there were many parts I liked but at the same time I felt this was to wordy. Using stream of consciousness in some places, and a narrative voice in others, this novel is told in many different voices. The father, both daughters, the mother and the war veteran suffering from PTSD. When their 19 yr. old daughter goes missing, the last person seen with her is the vet. Her older sister's ex- fiance, he has come back terrifically wounded from the war, both mentally ...more
Feb 15, 2014 S.A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At one point, I feared I might end up disliking this book as much as I disliked "The Accursed." The point came mid-story via a switch from upstate New York to Florida, a displacement so jarring I suffered mental whiplash.

Once I understood the reason, I overcame my emotional emergency and settled back into the novel— as much as one settles into a JCO novel. She is not a settling-in writer, not by a long shot. Oates is about as settling as sitting on a porcupine while scorpions dance around your
Eric Anderson
Jan 07, 2015 Eric Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading a long epic novel by Oates is a wholly immersive experience. I became fully lost in this book, grew to love the uniquely individual characters and spent a lot of time contemplating the intellectual and emotional conundrums that the author presents. It’s a dramatic, extraordinary story that explores large subjects like the Iraq war, the American penitentiary system, alcoholism and spousal abuse. Yet, the main thrust of the tale is a deeply personal story of a family that’s been splintered ...more
This heartbreaking tale focuses upon a dysfunctional community which morally tears itself apart after a murder takes place. The death of a younger daughter for the Mayfield Family leads to emotional scars that cannot be healed.

The highlights of this novel are the wonderful yet poignant thoughts of many characters impacted by the murder. It helps to understand PTSD or the actions of one of the main characters won't make sense.

Any tale that can bring tears to a generally emotionally controlled pe
Feb 22, 2014 M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What an odd novel.
For one thing, the characters sounded like educated cavemen. I know that sounds oxymoronic, but I don't know how else to capture the stilted, self conscious, unnatural yet often high falutin prose. For another, the most interesting part of the story was not at all handled, and the rest of it was an incredible boring build up to it.
Carthage is about a rather unlikable and strange young woman who goes missing and how the family falls apart. This one had a bit of a twist but the e
Jo Dervan
Nov 01, 2013 Jo Dervan rated it it was amazing
This book, reminiscent of We Were the Mulvaneys, is about how a single incident wrecks the lives of a whole family. This book is set in upstate NY, the scene o other books by this author. The affluent Mayfield family has two daughters, Juliet and Cressida. Juliet, older and the prettier of the two, is engaged to her boyfriend, Brett, who is serving the army in Iraq. However he returns home severely wounded in both body and mind.
Juliet accepts his condition and is willing to help him through his
This will teach me to pick up a Joyce Carol Oates book, expecting to like it. I don't actually like her style - too cloying by half. She writes about victims (in their minds they are, at least), and she writes it in stream of conscience style. This lack of plot and half-hearted prose probably explains her high output. But, it resembles nothing so much as verbal diarrhea.

I really HATED the main characters - all of them seem to have one personality trait (or flaw), and they never deviate despite t
Feb 12, 2014 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-high
Joyce Carol Oates is the Cormack McCarthy of the psyche. McCarthy uses his inside voice to explore the existential bleakness of the human condition; Oates uses her outside voice to explore the mind filled with angst, anger, and pain.

It is 2005 and nineteen-year old Cressida Mayfield is missing in a state park near Carthage, NY. In the very beginning, Cressida speaks to us from her lostness. Her older sister’s fiancé is somehow implicated, but his body and mind have been so scarred in Iraq that
Feb 23, 2014 Malia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really know where to start describing this book, but here goes. CARTHAGE is an ambitious novel, in terms of subject matter and even language. For me, I am sad to say, it is not successful on either account.
What really disappointed me was the cool distance from emotional connection ever present in the book. The subjects presented - PTSD, trauma, loss, grief, etc. - are ones that should evoke deep feeling and involvement, yet the style of writing, the blandness of the characters (speaking
Feb 11, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her 40th novel, Oates once again depicts the tragic sundering of families. The damage is not gradual, but the result of misbegotten choices/perceptions.

The focus of "Carthage" is Cressida Mayfield, the 'smart' younger sister - who feels unloved, unwanted, in spite of the obvious care bestowed upon her - of the 'pretty' Juliet. Juliet is betrothed to Brett Kincaid, who returns from the Iraq war scarred in body and mind. The setting of Carthage, New York is real, but I found it interesting to l
This is the story of the Mayfield’s family: Zeno and his wife and two sisters, Juliet, who is engaged to Brett Kincaid, and Cressida, a misfit and possibly autistic girl.

After the tourists attack of 9/11, Juliet’s fiancee decides to enlist. However, he came home severely injured and baldly traumatized by Iraq war.

After the subtle Cressida’s disappearance in the wilds of Adirondacks, who was alleged raped and murdered by Bret Kincaid he confess the crime with his blurred memoirs of the war.

No bod
Ruth Merriam
Too.Many.Words. This book is about a girl who goes missing and the impact this has on other people. It is written in very free-form, flowing, multi adjectival and adverbial prose. There are a lot of similes and metaphors, and language devices as well as a great deal of redundancy like the author was having to repeat instructions to a room full of preschoolers over and over. The sentence structure veers toward run-ons as if the characters were having an inner monologue, or perhaps an important di ...more
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
Feb 16, 2015 Viola rated it it was amazing
I had never read Joyce Carol Oates before Carthage, but if this novel is representative of her work, then I am sold! She completely drew me into the middle of small town America and made me absolutely love it. The characters were captivating, deep, nuanced, and above all, incredibly realistic. The story narrative weaved back and forth creating enough suspense to keep the pages turning even when there was not much plot.

The novel starts with the mysterious disappearance of nineteen year old Cressi
May 28, 2014 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
In many ways, Oates' latest isn't vastly different to many of her other novels (a seemingly ideal upstate New York family torn apart by a terrible event involving a daughter - 'We Were the Mulvaneys' and 'My Sister, My Love' have both trodden the same path) but then it is her fascination with certain themes that keeps me reading her and finding something new even when there is this sense of déja vu. So, here, in addition to Oates's usual themes about identity, about violence, about family, she a ...more
Mar 15, 2014 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that I feel bad giving 3 stars to because it's well written and well thought out and relatively well characterized. It doesn't really seem right to rate it the same as many of the silly cozy mysteries that I read.

But, I can't really go higher.

It's the story of a family torn apart by the disappearance of the younger daughter, allegedly at the hands of the older daughter's fiancé, a wounded Iraq war veteran. I really can't go into much more about the storyline without sp
May 27, 2014 Florence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The action of a waif- like young girl with the odd name of Cressida, spirals outward to engulf other lives in a chaotic maelstrom. I almost lost patience with this book several times. It seemed to be overloaded with eccentric characters, becoming almost ludicrous. But I persisted and was rewarded. Many of the characters slowly assumed three dimensions on the page. This is a gripping story about the evils of war, mental illness, the joy and agony of intimate relationships. It is clearly a fable o ...more
Marty Berry
I wrote a review on Amazon, which basically said I think JCO is a pretty amazing writer, and as such needs to be held to a higher standard than others. Carthage is so richly complex - oddly enough I had just been reading about Carthage in history for a history book club - a happy accident. I cannot quibble with the deftness of JCO's writing or the depth of her references. Her prose and her descriptions continue to amaze, as well.

I recognized some of "Mulvaneys" in that the young female protagon
Feb 23, 2014 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2015 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first JCO novel and I find myself clamoring for a book of her short stories to get the taste of this out of my mouth. It's not terrible, but I wish she'd had a different editor. The writing was a slog in some places. Information was told to us over and over, odd words were repeated numerous times in a chapter (I think "gut-sick" was one) a meandering so-what plot with POV shifts that aren't always earned. This felt like a bunch of character sketches (with the obligatory Iraq war vet th ...more
Mar 07, 2015 Kasey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've gotten better at managing my expectations with Oates's novels. I often find that her characters seem oddly distant, as if you're viewing them through the wrong end of a telescope, and so I never expect to *like* any of them, exactly. But I do expect her to unfold, often masterfully, the source of their isolation and how it affects them and the people around them.

In that respect, I thought that Cressida was a beautifully drawn, fascinating character. She is so brittle and vulnerable that sh
Debra Mccall
I really wanted to like this book and usually really like Oates...Loved the first 200 pages (thru the confession) and then found the rest so hard to believe. This book was also WAY too long. Disappointing.
Matt Escott
Jan 24, 2015 Matt Escott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2014 Doreen rated it liked it
Shelves: elle
3.5 stars.

My feelings towards Joyce Carol Oates are so ambiguous. I loved The Virgin In The Rose Bower (and am really looking forward to reading The Accursed because her mastery of Gothic horror is unparalleled by any other modern author, IMO,) but her more contemporary stuff too often leaves me cold. Granted, I've only read The Barrens and Black Dahlia & White Rose, but both were insufferable. Unfortunately the first 100-odd pages of Carthage display all the worst of her tendencies, particu
Mar 08, 2014 4cats rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
The difference between a writer and a great writer is that the latter will produce a piece of work which is at once engaging, it may provoke you as well as endeavour to make you consider viewpoints which you may not agree with. Throughout her long and varied career, Joyce Carol Oates has produced fiction and non-fiction which are frequently not ‘easy’ reads, they will challenge you, making you question your moral codes and often offer alternatives which you may struggle with. She never shies awa ...more
Uwe Hook
Mar 29, 2014 Uwe Hook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joyce Carol Oates is an amazingly prolific author, yet she manages to produce excellent novels such as this one, which explores issues relating simultaneously to the inner psychology of flawed characters, and also to current events such as distant wars. As is almost expected in her novels, the protagonist is a young woman struggling to cope with a difficult world, set in small town north-eastern USA. But there are many other elements, such as the dynamics of dysfunctional families and the diffic ...more
Aug 24, 2014 Nancy rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished, not-read
I haven't any idea why this book and I stalled out. The story seemed to drag and despite the conflicts faced by the characters and the tragedy unfolding, I just didn't care much.
I was going to file this and go back to it, but I don't think it's worth it. I'm racing back to the 19th century where I belong.
Jul 07, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating read from one of my favorite writers. It involves the death of a girl who is still missing. This novel takes a lot of right turns. and will hold your interest to the end.
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Favorite book by Joyce Carol Oates? 2 18 Nov 08, 2014 11:45PM  
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Carthage 4 29 Apr 22, 2014 10:11AM  
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more
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“She had no existence, in herself. From earliest childhood she had believed this. Rather she was a reflecting surface, reflecting others' perception of her, and love of her.” 3 likes
“A fear of the unknown: what was that called?
Worse yet: a fear of the known.”
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