Jean's Reviews > The Accursed

The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
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really liked it
bookshelves: general-fiction

This is not a modern 21st century novel. To read this book, you must put yourself mentally into the style of the book. If you read it this way, you will enjoy it. All the bad reviews are from people who couldn't do that.

The book is the story of the mysterious supernatural events that took place in Princeton, New Jersey in 1905 and 1906, told from the point of view of one of the descendants of one of the families. He writes as if he were discovering all of this information through accounts, notes, diaries, etc. He digresses a lot, and has many asides and whole chapters of background, which bothered some reviewers, but it's all part of the premise.

The best fun of the book is to see historical figures like Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Upton Sinclair, and Jack London, interacting with fictional characters. Oates has done her homework on these people, finding interesting quirks. I now have to read a biography of Wilson to see if he was as nutty as Oates portrays him to be.

The major plot line is the supernatural happenings focused on a fictional family - the Slades. There is a lot in the book about mysticism and religion the supernatural, which were popular at the time. There is a strong sub-theme about racism. And lots of other strands and sub-plots and mysteries.

I enjoyed the book on several levels - historical insights, interesting plot and suspense. Oates is being ironic and poking fun at current (21st century) beliefs and prejudices. And the ending was excellent - a big surprise, only not really, because the author prepares the reader for the ending.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
July 4, 2013 – Shelved

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