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We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

We Were the Mulvaneys (1996)

by Joyce Carol Oates

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,673721,014 (3.58)140
  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 140 mentions

English (69)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
'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 |
Family torn apart by tragedy. Death of a father brings opportunity for the family to come together and heal old wounds. Can provide an interesting discussion on revenge, strength and weakness of families for book clubs. Easy to see why this became an Oprah pick.
( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
SAD. SAD. SAD. I think I bawled my entire way through this book. But it was well-written. But SAD. I may need anti-depressants after this one...

(I've been told by a friend that all of the books by this author are depressing, but I don't plan on reading another one, or I may end up jumping off a bridge.) ( )
  cobygirl517 | Mar 14, 2016 |
on Tuesday, June 08, 2004 I wrote about this book:

I have finished reading this book. It was a hard read though, not only because of the story but also cause the style of writing I guess?
At one time I thought shall I continue, but the story was so intriguing, i wanted to know what happened. I am glad i did. loved the storyline. I have cried my eyes out 2 nights in a row.

( )
  Marlene-NL | Mar 12, 2016 |
Michael and Corinne Mulvaney are the parents of four children: Michael, Patrick, Marianne, and Judd. Living in a picture perfect farm in upstate New York, the Mulvaneys own a successful roofing company; Michael Mulvaney is considered a serious businessman. Corinne is a bubbly, earthy mother whose life revolves around the family unit. For nearly twenty years the Mulvaney clan thrives, admired throughout Mt. Ephraim for being the model family.

On St. Valentine's night, 1976, Marianne Mulvaney, after prom, goes to a party where she becomes intoxicated and is raped by an upperclassman whose father is a well respected businessman and friend of Mr. Mulvaney.

Marianne's rape is the beginning of a tumultuous fifteen-year period. Her father, lost and angry, does not understand why his daughter will not press charges against her attacker. He can no longer look at his daughter the same way, and sends her to live with a distant relative of Corinne's in Salamanca, NY. Marianne, moving haphazardly from place to place, continues to wait for her father to call on her—but he never does.

For the other family members, things continue to get worse. All three of the Mulvaney boys leave home angrily, never to return. One even attempts to murder his sister's rapist. Michael Mulvaney's casual drinking turns into full-fledged alcoholism. Gradually, his reputation as a respected businessman disintegrates. The Mulvaneys are forced into bankruptcy and forced to sell the farm.

Eventually, Corinne and Michael split up. After many years, the Mulvaneys meet once again in a family reunion at Corinne's new home which she shares with a friend. The family has extended to include spouses and children. Finally, the Mulvaneys come full circle and receive closure.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (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.
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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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