Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates REVIEW


TITLE & AUTHOR: Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates
PUBLISHER: Fourth Estate
EDITION: Paperback
RELEASE DATE: 21 January 2014
PAGES: 482 pages






A young girl’s disappearance rocks a community and a family in this stirring examination of grief, faith, justice, and the atrocities of war from Joyce Carol Oates, “one of the great artistic forces of our time” (The Nation).

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, they discover the unlikeliest of suspects—a decorated Iraq War veteran with close ties to the Mayfield family. As grisly evidence mounts against the troubled war hero, the family must wrestle with the possibility of having lost a daughter forever.

Carthage plunges us deep into the psyche of a wounded young corporal haunted by unspeakable acts of wartime aggression, while unravelling the story of a disaffected young girl whose exile from her family may have come long before her disappearance.

Dark and riveting, Carthage is a powerful addition to the Joyce Carol Oates canon, one that explores the human capacity for violence, love, and forgiveness, and asks if it’s ever truly possible to come home again.


Didn’t love me enough.


Carthage is a very good novel. It turned out to be very different novel than I was expecting. From reading the blurb I thought it would be a literary crime novel. It turned out to be very different. I was hooked on the novel from page one. The book took ages to read because there are only seventeen, generally very long chapters. The plot is very interesting. The central premise is that of a missing girl, an adult not a teenager so this is handled differently by the police than if a child had gone missing. Like all of JCO’s novels Carthage is more than the sum of its parts. Add to the mix a physically and mentally damaged war hero with blood of the missing girl in his car and you’ve got a page turner. I liked the characters but didn’t think they were developed as well as they could have been. I enjoyed the story but the characters never felt quite real to me. Cressida, the missing girl is revealed to be quite a horrible person. The only characters I had sympathy for in the end were Cressida’s sister Juliet and her ex-fiancée. Carthage is well written and very enjoyable but the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more.




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