Book Review: Do With Me What You Will by Joyce Carol Oates

do with me

Do With Me What You Will By Joyce Carol Oates

Fawcett Crest Books (Paperback), 1974

541 Pages 

www.usfca.edu/jco/

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Three men wanted Elena Howe… and shaped her life. Her alcoholic, obsessive father. Her husband, a brilliant and successful lawyer twenty years her senior. And the dynamic young lover who tried to consume her.

DO WITH ME WHAT YOU WILL is a drama of Elena’s marriage and infidelity. It is also the story of her liberation through love.

EXTRACT 

Premeditated crime: the longer the meditation, the dreaming, the more triumphant the execution.

REVIEW

This was my first time reading Do With Me What You Will. I love the title by the way.

This was actually my second attempt to read Do With Me What You Will. I started reading JCO’s novel a few weeks ago. However, I didn’t read it for a few days and when I picked it up I’d lost the thread of the novel so had to set it to one side. Thankfully, I didn’t experience the issue the second time I picked Do With Me What You Will up. This is not a novel you can pick up and put down whenever you fancy. You need to keep reading it every day.

I enjoyed Do With Me What You Will but it could have been much better. JCO’s novel held my attention from the dramatic opening when Elena, only a toddler is kidnapped by her estranged father. The main issue with Do With Me What You Will was the character, Elena. I really didn’t like her at all. I found Elena very bland and insipid – she was very passive and this started to grate on me after a couple hundred pages. At times she seemed incapable of responding or reacting to anything and I wanted to give her a good slap. How she managed to motivate herself to have an affair is beyond me. I felt Do With Me What You Will was a slow read and felt more like 1000 pages. I did enjoy it but wanted to put my foot up Elena’s butt. I thought JCO was bold to have such a bland character as the centre of her novel, someone weak who is shaped by the people around her. Do With Me What You Will isn’t my favourite JCO but I did enjoy certain things about it.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

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