BELLEFLEUR by Joyce Carol Oates is ranked as one of my most favorite novels of all time…I love this book! I savored this gothic tale cover to cover and didn’t want it to end. It possesses a life of its own, the characters became ghosts that would haunt me after setting it aside after a short reading and I would look forward to picking it up again. After I finished it, I felt homesick in a peculiar way that no book has ever done to me before; it is very likely that I will revisit the pages of Bellefleur again. Each chapter is an opulent sliver of time that peers into the lives and thoughts of the residents of Bellefleur Manor, an American family of notorious distinction. Their history is rife with joys and sorrows deftly exposed by the astounding craft that is signature in JCO’s prolific literary career. The mesmerizing shifts of time, like historical memories, travel from the heights of the imposing Mount Blanc, wind through the decadent rooms of Bellefleur Manor, and plunge into the depths of mysterious Lake Noir where disconcerting spirits dwell. The fanciful characters endear themselves because of their human vitality and cause despair because of their human flaws; they are very tangible and seductive in spite of the brief glimpses into their lives. This is not a book for the faint of heart for it isn’t a serene walk in the walled garden of Bellefleur Manor. JCO reveals the grotesque that exists within the soul of the American dream, and with abrupt grace, she divulges the unforeseen twists of fate that arise with incredible violence that will leave you reeling with astonishment. It is a unique and contemplative tale, not to be consumed in a few sittings; however, the temptation of the eloquent prose begs to be gorged until the reader is sated. Open this book and open your mind, and give your imagination a workout. If you read this book with a rigid, black and white mind-set you will come away frustrated by it. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for something out of the ordinary to read.