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We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

We Were the Mulvaneys (1996)

by Joyce Carol Oates

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,72076997 (3.58)149
  1. 10
    A Good House by Bonnie Burnard (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both books are set in small towns and cover the story of one family over many years. Oates's book is darker and more satirical; the characters in Burnard's book are more likeable and believable.
  2. 00
    My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These literary coming-of-age novels each hauntingly explore the repercussions of a rape on small communities. A large family falls apart in We Were the Mulvaneys, while My Sunshine Away portrays the residents of a single street.
  3. 00
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (ainsleytewce)
  4. 11
    A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton (krizia_lazaro)
  5. 00
    Middle Age: A Romance by Joyce Carol Oates (Booksloth)

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» See also 149 mentions

English (73)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Tried to read this twice. Just couldn't get anywhere.
  shesinplainview | Sep 5, 2016 |
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates; (2 1/2*)

I thought I would love this novel, as Oates is a favorite of mine. But it turned out to be not so much. The characters were well rounded out as all of Oates' characters are. And in this case they all react differently to a critical event within the family history. But the book didn't really work for me.
Like I said, this was an okay read for me but I have found that I far prefer Oates' short stories to her novels. She is masterful with the short. ( )
  rainpebble | Sep 4, 2016 |
I became quickly absorbed in this tale. An example of how one incident destroys the American dream. I thought these characters were very credible and the devastating impact on their lives and their emotional response to an event was all too recognisable. Many reviewers have labelled this story as depressing but I think the author gives a realistic portrayal and manages to show the resilience of the human spirit. ( )
  HelenBaker | Sep 2, 2016 |
I loved this family tale. I found it a very realistic portrayal of how one tragic event can destroy family life and relationships but eventually time can heal. ( )
  HelenBaker | Aug 13, 2016 |
'1976 when everything came apart for us and was never again put together in quite the same way', 14 Jan. 2013
sally tarbox

This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
Wonderful book, that starts off with the perfect American family: cheerleader daughter, sportsman eldest son, genius middle son...and the youngest, Judd, who narrates much of it. Loving mother, father who's 'made it' in business and socially....
And then Marianne is raped by a local boy. The whole story is on how this throws their whole lives out of kilter, breaks up the family, sends certain members on a downward spiral.
I thought the character of Patrick (the intellectual one) was BRILLIANTLY drawn; I understood his thinking as he embarked on an unexpected course of action. That's the great thing with Oates' writing- you may disapprove of her characters' actions, but you fully understand their thinking and motivation for what they do.
I couldn't put it down...it's the third one of her books that I've read and I think the best. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
In her gracefully sprawling new novel, Joyce Carol Oates delivers a modern family tragedy with a theme as painfully primal as “Oedipus Rex.”
added by prosperosbook | editSalon, David Futrelle (Sep 27, 1996)
What keeps us coming back to Oates Country is something stronger and spookier: her uncanny gift of making the page a window, with something happening on the other side that we'd swear was life itself.
Thanks for writing such a good article, I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing
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I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged.
Missing me one place search another,
I stop some where waiting for you.

from Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
for my "Mulvaneys" . . .
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We were the Mulvaneys, remember us?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452277205, Paperback)

A happy family, the Mulvaneys. After decades of marriage, Mom and Dad are still in love--and the proud parents of a brood of youngsters that includes a star athlete, a class valedictorian, and a popular cheerleader. Home is an idyllic place called High Point Farm. And the bonds of attachment within this all-American clan do seem both deep and unconditional: "Mom paused again, drawing in her breath sharply, her eyes suffused with a special lustre, gazing upon her family one by one, with what crazy unbounded love she gazed upon us, and at such a moment my heart would contract as if this woman who was my mother had slipped her fingers inside my rib cage to contain it, as you might hold a wild, thrashing bird to comfort it."

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:03 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A family of six disintegrates after a daughter is raped by a high-school student in upstate New York. The disgrace -- there is some question if it was rape -- sends the father to drink and financial ruin, the girl leaves home, the others follow. By the author of What I Lived For.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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