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We were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

We were the Mulvaneys (original 1996; edition 1996)

by Joyce Carol Oates

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4,86676950 (3.59)158
Title:We were the Mulvaneys
Authors:Joyce Carol Oates
Info:New York : Plume, c1996.
Collections:Your library

Work details

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (1996)

  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 158 mentions

English (73)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  All (76)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
This is about how a family coped, or failed to cope with a family tragedy. The family disintegrates, but in the end, they reunite. It was never as it was before, but the human spirit, being indomitable, morphs to a new place where it can survive. I think the book was about 75 pages too long, as the first 100 pages were very very slow moving. Maybe the author wanted to show what a mundane family life they had? 468 pages 4 stars ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Jun 11, 2017 |
Oldest ABC TBR. Set in Southwest NY state, the family is blessed by a hardworking father who owns a roofing company, stay at home Mom and 4 beautiful children. Until the night of the prom when Marianne is raped by a local rich boy, and the entire family implodes, collataral victims of the tragedy. Marianne declines to press changes - since she was drunk, she feels it's her fault. Dad feels so guilty that Mom sides with him and sends MArianne away to live with distant cousins, which makes Marianne feel abandoned. Still Dad obsesses with the townsfolk, consulting lawyers and drinking heavily. The kids drift away, yet the mother still tries to hold on to Dad and save him, at the expense of maintaining ties with her kids. I think the book could have ended one chapter earlier, skipping the loving family reunion at the end. ( )
  nancynova | Jan 8, 2017 |
A wonderful novel that takes you through the highs and very lows of a family, the Mulvaneys. The story is told occasionally by Judd, the youngest Mulvaney, but most often in the third person. The reader spends time with different family members, Patrick, the second eldest during his time at Cornell, Marianne, the only daughter and towards the end we are next to Michael Mulvaney Sr, seeing where his life has taken him. In these sections we hear about the other family members second-hand. The story hinges around a significant event that happened to Marianne on Valentine's Day 1976. Up until that date this family seemed to be blessed and have everything and yet we later receive glimpses that all had never been so cosy in the Mulvaney household, as Corrine (mum) reveals. The capacity for love that Corrine has is incredible and Joyce Carol Oates shows this love eventually reaping rewards. Joyce Carol Oates tells a fantastic story that I did not want to put down. She weaves in current events and important details and had me smiling and choked with tears at different times. The novel also has a well drawn geography and as she describes the road to the farm I felt I was there, I could picture the farm buildings and see the views. ( )
1 vote Tifi | Nov 9, 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 |
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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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