Skip to main content

Middle Age: A Romance

About the Book

Middle Age: A Romance

Calling this darkly comic novel "a romance," Joyce Carol Oates kills off her hero on the first page, brings his spirit back to comment on his own death, and makes his memory a catalyst to change the lives of his Lexus-driving, privileged, and morally mixed-up friends.

Everyone in Salthill-on-Hudson, New York, is middle-aged. Characterized by failed marriages, shallow lives, and liberal causes, the affluent residents enjoy the iconoclast in their midst: sculptor Adam Berendt who disdains their wealth (but secretly has millions) and seduces their women (but beds none of them).

When Adam dies in an act of heroism -- or foolish recklessness, his death at first shocks his friends then provokes grief, anger, and baffling questions. Who was Adam Berendt? Where did he come from? What secrets did his past hide?

Owner of the town's bookstore, red-haired Marina doesn't know what to do with the legacy he leaves her. Roger, his best friend and lawyer, commits a crime on his behalf. Other friends wreck their marriages, try to recapture their youth, rescue stray dogs, run away from home, or find true love. And all of them are transformed in unexpected and sometimes hilarious ways.

Death, identity, and deception form the themes of this exquisitely crafted, modern-day morality tale, and so do love and friendship. But it will take until the closing chapters for readers to find out if good deeds lead to salvation or disaster, and if all roads lead back to Salthill-on-Hudson. Above all, in Middle Age: A Romance Joyce Carol Oates cuts through the fabric of America's materialistic facade to expose the heart inside . . . and the soul of a man aptly named Adam.

Middle Age: A Romance
by Joyce Carol Oates

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2002
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060934905
  • ISBN-13: 9780060934903