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We Were the Mulvaneys (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – Unabridged, January 24, 2001
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While You Were Mine
Everything she loved could so easily be lost. Learn More
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But as we all know, Eden can't last forever. And in the hands of Joyce Carol Oates, who's chronicled just about every variety of familial dysfunction, you know the fall from grace is going to be a doozy. By the time all is said and done, a rape occurs, a daughter is exiled, much alcohol is consumed, and the farm is lost. Even to recount these events in retrospect is a trial for the Mulvaney offspring, one of whom declares: "When I say this is a hard reckoning I mean it's been like squeezing thick drops of blood from my veins." In the hands of a lesser writer, this could be the stuff of a bad television movie. But this is Oates's 26th novel, and by now she knows her material and her craft to perfection. We Were the Mulvaneys is populated with such richly observed and complex characters that we can't help but care about them, even as we wait for disaster to strike them down. --Anita Urquhart
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This book will strike an immediate chord to a family 'putting on airs' yet within the house having its problems. It hithome for me and will most likely hit home for many others because we know of families that seem perfect.... and often we find out much later what was truly happening.
I do not believe that the choice of Mt. Ephraim as the hometown of the Mulvaneys was by accident. Ephraim and Manasseh were sons of Joseph - and while the latter committed heinous crimes against all moral authority, Ephraim was a redeemer. A striking metaphor against which much hurt is set - and one missed by the editorial reviewers.
This family functions quite well - all that we'd say is 'too good to be true' *is* actually true until Marianne, the girl so beautifully described that we actually *feel* she's the 'girl next door' to *us* is sexually assaulted. Actually, we are never told whether it was rape or consensual. And the beauty of this is that for the purposes of this story it doesn't matter.
It is the *effect* of the assault on the family that begins their descent. I will not spoil the book by telling you the details as to how each of the brothers and the parents fall off their respective wagons. But the cumulative effect is devasting, as told by the narrator, a now adult youngest brother Judd.
How can such a complete destruction of a classic nuclear family be a book I'd want to read? Because as someone once said, it is when a man stares into the abyss that he finds his character.
Suffice it to say that when you are done with this book you will feel as though you knew the Mulvaneys, suffered with them, and wonder how you would have reacted.Read more ›
We Were the Mulvaneys is the story of the Mulvaney family in the mid-1970s. They are the more-than-typical family, like the ones on TV who play games together in the living room after dinner. A little on the corny side, but the love they share for each other is obvious in the beginning chapters. Then something happens to one of the family members - a tragedy atrocious and unforgettable - that threatens to tear the Mulvaneys apart.
While the story itself was very good, I could not get into the book. I was hoping maybe it would be a late-bloomer, but there was never a point that I reached that inspired me to keep reading. I did finish the novel, but only after a week of exhausting myself. However, there is an audience out there for this book, and my suggestion is this: If you are the type of reader that enjoys a slow pace, highly descriptive writing, wordy sentences and a lack of dialogue, then We Were the Mulvaneys would be an excellent choice. My own personal shortcomings about this book is in no way reflective of the talent or storytelling ability of Joyce Carol Oates. Please read this and see for yourself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It started slow and I wasn't sure I could get into this book, but once I did it was incredible! Such sorrow!Published 1 month ago by MissLiss
Compelling read! A realistic expression of how disfunction can occur, and can heal.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I could not believe I finished this entire, unbelievable, unrealistic, boring novel. I've never read an Oates book before and will probably never read another. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Filet Deglaze
This book is amazing, i was kind of hesitant to read it as a guy but man the plot and characters are so relate-able. It's so tragic but will give you a new perceptive on life. Read morePublished 5 months ago by karthik
Some parts of this book just dragged on a bit too long for my taste. I grew impatient with meaningless detail. I skimmed a lot. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mary M. Fuller
Ms. Oates writes an amazing story of a family's disintegration and later of its redemption.The Mulvaney family's story begins on a farm in upstate New York. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Eileen Hammond