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!
"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.
I love Joyce Carol Oates and this book is a great example of her work. I read it prior to it making it onto Oprah's Book Club list, but recently read it again after receiving another copy. It isn't necessarily for someone who doesn't like long, descriptive narratives of books, but I enjoy her writing style. We Were The Mulvaneys is an example of how everyone should be careful not to envy others for appearing to have perfect lives, because chances are high that they don't.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The story of an American tragedy and how it tore a family apart. It's a story of family, love, loss, heartbreak and what hope for what can put it all back together again. It's listed on the 1001 books to read before you die and rightfully so. One of Joyce Carol Oates' best.
The staggeringly prolific Oates' latest novel is a tragic, compelling tale. She presents in sensuous prose the saga of the fall of the House of Mulvaney. The Mulvaneys, six of them, had been riding high; they lived on a prosperous farm in upstate New York and lived well. Now an adult, Judd, the youngest Mulvaney, recounts the events during which "everything came apart for us and was never again put together in quite the same way." At the core of the family troubles was one grievous incident, the rape of Judd's sister. Consequently, Judd, his father, and one of his brothers commit criminal deeds, and the family eventually loses the farm. Predictably for Oates, her impeccable psychological understanding of violence--its roots and ramifications--lies at the heart of a troubling yet ultimately inspiring story of how far down people can go but, holding on together as a family, rise to the surface again. Her legion of fans will be pleased
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.
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.
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.
I picked up a copy of this book at a library sale before I knew it was an Oprah book. I tend to avoid the Oprah books because I find them preachy (though I admittedly read and enjoyed several of them before they were Oprah books.) Though this wasn't preachy, it seemed to me a less interesting and far less funny version of David James Duncan's brilliant study of family (in pretty much the same time period) 'The Brothers K.' It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't really that good. It was often disengaging, which made it tedious. There are far better works to spend 450 pages reading.
I do not read Ms Oates, however I was persuaded to read this. I was impressed with the intense sense of place of the book. It was worth reading for that alone but her ability to tell a story is what keeps you reading.
I finished reading We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates the other day. This was another story about a dysfunctional family but with a difference. You didn't see the dysfunction until something really bad happened to one of the family members. Again, I don't want to spoil it. The Mulvaneys seemed to be one of those close knit, well-to-do, very happy and successful families people secretly envy. Then comes this tragedy...and the family just totally falls apart. Why? If they were so happy and close knit it shouldn't have happened, should it? Well, now we see that the communication doesn't seem to be there and unconditional love doesn't seem to be quite there. The victim in the family is totally ostracized and that bugged me the most about the story. How can you treat an innocent member of the family like that? Joyce Carol Oates is not easy to read--I found myself either re-reading or just skipping stuff entirely. Supposedly the story will hurt and heal, well, I didn't feel any healing. I guess I was just too ticked off at the "parental units". I just didn't enjoy it that much after that certain breaking point. Oh well...
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
This was the first book I've read by Joyce Carol Oates. She is an exceptional writer! The Mulvaney's are an all American family. Mike Jr the high school football star, Patrick the scientific genius, beautiful Marianne the ever popular high school cheerleader, & Judd the story teller. Michael Sr is so proud of his home, family, self made business & long awaited acceptance into society's elite. Mom Corinne, the typical farm wife, family loving mom who would much rather be in the antique barn than the country club! Then one night, one unspeakable incident & the entire family begins to unravel. Oates tells the story of the struggle for each family member to put the pieces back together, or is it possible to heal into a family again?
The only fault I found in the book is sometimes regarding Patrick, I felt the story rambled. Good read though.
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..
"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,
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.
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.