We Were the Mulvaneys Paperback – Jul 2 2001
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Oprah Book Club® Selection, January 2001: 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In a tale told primarily from the point of view of the youngest boy, Judd, listeners learn how each of the Mulvaneys struggles with 16-year-old Marianne's date rape and her father's fierce reaction to it Mike Mulvaney bans his daughter from the house, ostensibly because she will not name her rapist. In her 26th novel, Oates once again shows her prowess as mistress of the macabre. The best scenes are not early on when we're introduced to the lovely, successful Mulvaneys, their smart and charming children, and their middle-class American milieu. They are not in the rebuilding of individual lives in the wake of the father's disintegration and death. Nor are they toward the end, when the Mulvaneys reunite as an almost-functional, though much-changed family. It is the flashbacks of Marianne's date rape and especially brother Patrick's plotting and executing his vigilante justice that carry listeners from sentence to sentence throughout Adams's utterly convincing reading. Based on the Penguin hardcover.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
For example: We're given directions on how to get to the family farm from Route 58, first the shortcut then the long route (or maybe the other way around), a blow by blow account of every street, every turn - take another right and a left and a right at the square... This went on for THREE pages.
She spent two pages on clocks, all the clocks that were "busily tick-tick-ticking" through the house, describing each one ad nauseam, from the "Chautauqua Valley steeple pendulum clock of the 1850s" to the "small cream-colored ceramic mantel clock with garlands of tiny painted rosebuds, golden pendulum and delicate hands, a chime like the sweetest of birdcalls."
If this review is putting you to sleep, try reading 400 pages of the stuff. To make matters worse, the story is written in first person, a 30-year-old male, supposedly, who often sounds more like the stereotypical doddering old lady. He relays details, page after relentless page, that he couldn't possibly know, unless he was able to clone himself and be in more than one place at a time. No room for suspension of disbelief here, I'm afraid.
On the cover, the Chicago Tribune calls this book "Oates's finest." If that's really the case, I can't imagine her worst. If I could give this book zero stars, I would.
What was I saying. Oh yes. The author's intentions were noble. To hear her talk about the book surely makes one want to read it. It's the story of a father who loves his daughter so much he disowns her, and then lets his love for her destroy his marriage, career, and life. It's a story of a tragedy that affects the victim less than it affects those around her. (am I spelling "affect" right? should it be "effect?") It's a story of how, for one character, botched revenge brings more relief than perfect revenge. Doesn't that sound compelling?
The problem is, it's not all that compelling. I got tired of the characters: all of them, starting with the sunny sweet mother, then the overly analytical Patrick, than the overly aggressive, angry head in the sand father, and finally the oh-so-innocent. Basically in the order the focus shifts, I grow tired. And more than the characters, I grew frustrated with the author's techniques. It drove me crazy that sometimes Judd told the story and sometimes Judd was a character in the story (Judd did this, said that, instead of I did this, did that.Read more ›
this is also my first oates book & i found it so thoroughly unpleasent that i've decided it will be my last.
the character development was horrendous, but just let me add my 2cents in here: i found it really sickening how the author portrayed the female characters in this book. she wanted you to feel some sympathy for corrine & marrianne but they were so utterly grotesque in their protrayals, it makes me wonder if this author is 100% mentally all there herself.
the mother was from the outset really irritatingly annoying & shallow, never got better, never achieved insight or redempton, nothing, nada...
the [attack] vitim was a caraciture of a "solied" girl turned martyred saint who accepts the responsiblity FOR the [attack], for every horrible thing ever done to her a we are supposed to think that she is "good girl" horribly wronged, ... with mental problems---she comes off across as less of a human being than i have EVER read in any book--and without proper reasoning,as if we are just to believe that her being a devout Christian is the only reason for this. her character borders on complete idiocy; you cannot help but be revolted by her --NOT the [attack]--which by the way, & i find this horribly disturbing---is never explained totally AS [an attack]!
the author puts some doubt in the text to suggest that it may have not been [an attack]--which is really something when you go on to consider how she describes marriane as a person w/ classical post-traumatic stress disorder, who in the examinatng room has torn genitals & bruises (& even explained as to be caused from where the [attacker] was 'thrusting' upon her...Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
A story of how a bad circumstance starts the downward collapse of one family unit. Each character was affected differently and profoundly. Read morePublished on May 6 2010 by lafleurpetite
I read this book a couple of years ago....it's a great story about how a familly deals with tragedy when one of the members goes through a horrible event.Published on Nov. 16 2005 by veronique aillerie
I listened to the book on cd, and I must say, although I enjoyed it and felt the actor did a great job, I missed actually reading the language used by Oates throughout... Read more
In the very fist line of Joyce Carol Oates's "We were the Mulvaneys" a statement and a question are made. Read morePublished on June 11 2004 by Alysson Oliveira
In reading some of the blurbs about this book in the first few pages and on the back cover, one is led to believe that it is an inspiring story about the power of love and the... Read morePublished on June 6 2004 by kmg9g
The four young characters, while a bit too perfect, were engaging; you rooted for them and hoped they'd make it through the tragedy as more mature folk. Read morePublished on May 23 2004
This book was very interesting, very well written but....
It is a story about the distingration about a seemingly "perfect family". Read more
i wouldn't read it again. or for that matter recommend it to anyone because it was sort of boring. it was really slow.Published on April 15 2004 by corinne schinzler
Many of the reviews I've read about this book complain of the unrealistic or shallow characters. I personally could not put this book down, and read it in a weekend. Read morePublished on March 7 2004 by bookworm in entrelac