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We Were the Mulvaneys Paperback – Jul 2 2001

3.1 out of 5 stars 424 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Pb (July 2 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184115699X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841156996
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars 424 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,709,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J.E.L. on March 18 2008
Format: Paperback
Some things never cease to amaze me. How books like this ever get published is one of them. Had it not been written by such a famous author, I doubt it would have made it past an agent. The writing is weak and bland, the storyline heavily disguised in a mess of mind-numbing filler that serves no purpose whatsoever.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read most of Joyce Carol Oates' novels, this is my favourite. A study in how one act of violence against one family member works to twist and destroy a close-knit loving unit from the inside.
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Format: Paperback
Shortly after I finished reading this book, I heard an interview of the author that improved my opinion of the book. Wait, how's that? Am I reviewing the book or the author? Good question. What I should say is that the interview with the author made me respect what the author was attempting to do in the book. It's a noble venture. And don't tell me that outside information, including other's opinions, doesn't affect your own opinion about a book. That's what book clubs are about, after all, and incidentally, this is one of Oprah's pick. All hail Oprah, patron saintess of new authors. JC Oates isn't a new author, though.
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.
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Format: Paperback
all the bad reviews here echo my thoughts on the writing, character development, plot, narration, etc.
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...
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