Prior to "The Mulvaney's" I had not been able to become an avid reader of Joyce Carol Oates. I often had difficulty with the subject matter and frequently found myself responding in a negative , unrewarding way and that is not why I read novels. Ms. Oates is a consummate artist, a writer of very great skill, and a wonderful story-teller. "The Mulvaneys" is moving, warm, real, troubling and a pleasure to read. You can not read this book or any of her work if all you want to know is "what happens next". Her prose is flawless and chock full of those things which make great prose. It is not realistic to expect every reader to like her work, she IS a challenge, but well worth the effort(if that's what it takes.) This would be a great first Oates to read, if you need an introduction. I am baffled, though, that Oprah took so many years to find this book. It was published 5 years ago. That is when I read it, and have been reading others by Ms Oates since. I do not like everything she writes, but you very well might. A whole lot of people do!
This book centers on the rape of a pure "Jesus freak" cheerleader from an upstanding family in a small town. I finished half of it , but it is depressing , so I didn't finish it. The author is wonderfully skillful in her writing , but the subject matter deterred me.
"We were the Mulvaneys" was a decent book about a prominent family with everything in the world to look forward to and how they fell from grace. It was well written but a bit too drawn out at times. Definitely a very sad story from beginning to end.
From Publishers Weekly
"Elegiac and urgent in tone, Oates's wrenching 26th novel (after Zombie) is a profound and darkly realistic chronicle of one family's hubristic heyday and its fall from grace. The wealthy, socially elite Mulvaneys live on historic High Point Farm, near the small upstate town of Mt. Ephraim, N.Y. Before the act of violence that forever destroys it, an idyllic incandescence bathes life on the farm. Hard-working and proud, Michael Mulvaney owns a successful roofing company. His wife, Corinne, who makes a halfhearted attempt at running an antique business, adores her husband and four children, feeling "privileged by God." Narrator Judd looks up to his older brothers, athletic Mike Jr. ("Mule") and intellectual Patrick ("Pinch"), and his sister, radiant Marianne, a popular cheerleader who is 17 in 1976 when she is raped by a classmate after a prom. Though the incident is hushed up, everyone in the family becomes a casualty. Guilty and shamed by his reaction to his daughter's defilement, Mike Sr. can't bear to look at Marianne, and she is banished from her home, sent to live with a distant relative. The family begins to disintegrate. Mike loses his business and, later, the homestead. The boys and Corinne register their frustration and sadness in different, destructive ways. Valiant, tainted Marianne runs from love and commitment. More than a decade later, there is a surprising denouement, in which Oates accommodates a guardedly optimistic vision of the future. Each family member is complexly rendered and seen against the background of social and cultural conditioning. As with much of Oates's work, the prose is sometimes prolix, but the very rush of narrative, in which flashbacks capture the same urgency of tone as the present, gives this moving tale its emotional power.
The main storyline is based around the fall from grace of a prominent family. While there are plenty of problems in the family that come to light, the driving force is the reaction of the family to the rape of the cheerleader daughter. I found myself annoyed that the family seemed to react to her tragedy in a way that seemed to center around themselves. How it made them feel or how it upset them, at times to the detriment of the true victim herself. It seemed like a lot of whining from well to dos and I found myself rather annoyed through most of the book, but forcing myself to finish it in hopes that it might improve.
This book is hauntingly familiar to Dreiser's "An American Tragedy." Four children, their parents and a marriage are all sacrificed on the pyre of the parents' self-perceived image in the community. Joyce Carol Oates is an author who is powerful enough to make us feel their initial disbelief and subsequent pain following the "incident." I found Michael Sr. to be the most dislikeable character because he used the rape of his daughter to justify his own despicable behavior when he was needed the most and I found the daughter to be the one most deserving of our compassion. This is a book that will make its readers take a good, hard look at the depth of their own meaningful relationships to see if they would survive a devastation of the magnitude suffered by the Mulvaneys. This book is about people who prefer to maintain appearances at all cost and the cost is, indeed, very dear.
A sad yet somehow uplifting book that chronicles the date rape of a small town cheerleader and its lasting effects on her and her family members, the Mulvaneys. The book is narrated by youngest son Judd, who doesn't quite understand what happened and tries to piece together how and why his family fell apart.
I'm not a huge fan of the author, but here she creates a realistic family and small town where date rape is hushed up (in 1976 at least); the reader feels compassion for the daughter and, to a lesser extent, her family who all have their own ways of coping. It's a book I'd describe as haunting. Highly recommended if you're in the mood for some cerebral reading.
What a heart wrenching family drama! I believe it was also a TV movie. A typical happy Irish family until tragedy strikes one of its members. You'll read with dread as the family slowly falls apart. In spite of all the drama, it has a rather fitting but happy ending. Joyce Carol Oates has a real talent for capturing true family interaction.
This book had a good story, but I couldn't completely buy into it. Maybe I just didn't want to think that the central event in this book could have the repercussions that it did. Of course, I think it's hard to hear any story about a family that falls apart.
I was so frustrated by this book! I felt like yelling at the characters and telling them to just say it already! I couldn;t finish it because I was too frustrated. Alot of people liked it but.... I didn't really!
"Wow, I cannot sum this novel up in a paragraph...In short, it's about a prominent family with everything in the world to look forward to and how they fell from grace. What's heart wrenching is that the route of the problems (the rape of the daughter) is beyond their control, and the shameful pleasure of this boy (the rapist) was so blatantly temporary that he actually forgot about the incident. Nevertheless, his actions started a chain of events that robbed this family of their happiness. What I love about Joyce Carol Oates is that she puts the reader into the characters' shoes for better or for worse. And in her stories, it's usually for worse. She has an undeniable knack for making fiction seem real. She takes much time to develop her characters to the point where you feel you are actually part of this family. So naturally, when she brazenly rips this family apart, you truly feel their pain. I can't further describe her writing...it's unparallel, and this book clearly shows it." - JM courtesy of Amazon Reviews
I will never read a Joyce Carol Oates book again. She seems intent on suffering for the sake of suffering with no purpose in the end. Really, an epilogue? She enjoys over evaluating everything and spend 40 pages to extrapolate on a 1 paragraph point.
My wife says this book is one of the few from Oates that she has really enjoyed; hence, the four-star rating. Oates has an interesting history as an author -- she has won prizes for several of her novels; she is an academic writer; her works appear very personal; her books are all of many pages, seemingly requiring several cold winter's nights in a row, with a warming fireplace and a bit of brandy..
Anyone who doesn't give this book a rating of at least 4.5, just doesn't understand the book. If you are a JCO fan, you will love this book. It is perfectly representative of her form, style of writing and story-line.
I was in the middle of this book when I realized I was not enjoying it. I found it hard to follow and plodded through hoping it would pick up. It did not. I couldn't wrap my imagination around the characters and felt nothing for them. It was as if the story wasn't thought out and the author just threw things together. A mess.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The initial draw for me was seeing it on Oprah's list. I think this was the first book I had read on that basis... Anyway, the story was very real. I felt for the Mulvaneys, hated to see the heartache that each family member went through in this book.
I listened to this book on CD. In the beginning of the book I was quite frustrated by the behavior and extreme reactions to the "tragic event" by pretty much everyone in the family. I can not imagine a family really acting like the Mulvaneys did. So, I tried to frame it in my head in the setting to justify their actions; still no. The last 1/3 of the book was much better though and the family began to resemble people that were at least somewhat relatable. Over all, I did like this book and if you can get through the first part and deal with wanting to smack every character until they redeem themselves, then you may like it too.
A heart-tugging book about a family struggling to hold it together. I've never looked @ a peach-colored dress the same ever again. There is also a fairly decent made-for-TV movie. I would suggest dwl'ing it, if you can find it.
"We Were the Mulvaneys celebrates the miracle that allowed a family to bridge the chasms that had opened up between them, and to reuinite in the spirit of love and healing. Pfofoundy cathartic, this novel unfolds as if Oates, in plumbing the darkness of the human spirit, has come upon a source of light at its core." Truly a statement about the value of hope and compassion,
The Mulvaney family--a hard working father, a loving mother, three fine sons and a bright, pretty daughter. Committed to each other and close-knit living in the rural community of Ephraim, New York. But something happens on Valentine's Day, 1976--an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home--that rends the fabric of their family life...with tragic consequences.
The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet...a hardworking father, a loving mother, three fine sons, and a bright, pretty daughter. They are confident in their love for each other and their position in the rural community of Mt. Ephraim, New York. But something happens on Valentine's Day, 1976...an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home...that rends the fabric of their family life...with tragic consequence.
It is the youngest son, Judd, now and adult, who attempts to reclaim his family's past by documenting their history and what seemed a special gift of happiness. The many secrets they kept from each other threatened to destroy them, but ultimately We Were The Mulvaneys celebrates the miracle that allowed a family to bridge the chasms that had opened up between them, and to reunite in the spirit of love and healing. Profoundly cathartic, this extraordinary novel unfolds as if Oates, in plumbing the darkness of the human spirit, has come upon a source of light at its core. Rarely has such an acclaimed writer made such a startling and inspiring statement about the value of hope and compassion.
The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet, a hardworking father, a loving mother, three fine sons and a bright,pretty daughter. They are confident in their love for each other and their positiion in the rural community of Mt. Ephraim, New York. But something happens on Valentines Day, an incident that is hushed up in town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home, that rends the fabric of their family life with tragic consequences.
I loved this book, though it is longwinded. It follows the life of a teen/woman who was raped, and how it affected her and her whole family. You will not read a novel more unforgettably illumined by profoundly human truth than this story of the rise, the fall, and the ultimate redemption of an American family. That family is the Mulvaneys, seemingly blessed by everything that makes life sweet - a successful, hard-working father, a loving mother, three fine sons, and a sweet and pretty daughter. Their residence is picture-perfect High Point Farm, long since converted from actual farming to the cultivation of the joys of country living for adults and children alike. Their position in the community of Mt. Ephraim, New York, seems secure. Yet something happens on Valentine's Day, 1976 - an incident involving sixteen-year-old Marianne that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home - that causes the bottom to fall out of their world. The impact of this event reverberates throughout the novel as Mike Sr. fights in both barrooms and courtrooms to restore his family's honor, his sons risk everything to right the wrong done to their beloved sister, while Marianne herself spends years drifting before she finds genuine love and fulfillment with a decent man, satisfying work, and a family of her own. It is the youngest son, Judd, now a newspaperman, who sets himself the task of documenting his family's history - to recall its luminous moments and what seemed a special gift for happiness. The many secrets they kept from each other threatened to destroy them, but ultimately We Were the Mulvaneys celebrates the human miracle that allowed this family to bridge the chasms that had opened up between them, to reunite in the spirit of love and healing.
I found this book when Oprah had it on her book club. It is about the Mulvaney family secrets and the emotions one experiences within a close family In parts it will break your hear. Then it will heal it with its tenderness.
The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet-a hard working father, a loving mom, 3 sons, and a bright daughter. But something happens one night, an incident that is hushed up in the community and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home.
The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet--a hard working father, a loving mother, three fine sons,and a bright,pretty daughter. They are confident in their love for each other and their poition in the rural community of Mt. Ephraim New York. But something happens -an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home-that rends the fabric of their family life. This book will break your heart, heal it, then break it again.
The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet-a hardworking father, a loving mother, three fine sons, and a bright pretty daughter. They are confident in their love for each other and their position in the rural community of Mt. Ephriam, New York. But something happens on Valentine\'s Day 1976-an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of the the Mulvaney home-that rends the fabric of their family life......with tragic consequences.