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 memorable. 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 made-for-tv film but this is Oates' 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 you can't help but care about them, even as you wait for disaster to strike them down. --Anita Urquhart, Amazon.com --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
‘I read this book over a year ago, but this family still haunts me.’ Oprah Winfrey
‘“We Were the Mulvaneys” works not simply because of its meticulous details and gestures…What keeps us coming back to Oates Country is something stronger and spookier: her uncanny gift of making the page a window, with something on the other side that we'd swear was life itself.' David Gates, The New York Times Book Review
'It is a book that will break your heart, heal it, then break it again every time you think about it.’ Los Angeles Times
'A brilliantly detailed and varied picture of family life and a succession of dramatic set pieces…These are people we recognise, and she makes us care deeply about them.' Kirkus
From the Back Cover
The Mulvaneys are seemingly blessed by everything that makes life sweet. They live together in the picture-perfect High Point Farm, just outside the community of Mt Ephraim, New York, where they are respected and liked by everybody.
Yet something happens on Valentine's Day 1976. An incident involving Marianne Mulvaney, the pretty sixteen-year-old daughter, is hushed up in the town and never discussed within the family. The impact of this event reverberates throughout the lives of the characters.
As told by Judd, years later, in an attempt to make sense of his own past reveals the unspoken truths of that night that rends the fabric of the family life with tragic consequences. In We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates, the highly acclaimed author of Blonde, masterfully weaves an unforgettable story of the rise, fall and ultimate redemption of an American family.
"Novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer slug it out for the title of the Great American Novelist. But maybe they're wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman."
"Oates finest… a major achievement."
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates, a recipient of the National Book Award, is one of the most highly respected novelists, critic, playwright, poet and author of short stories. ‘We Were the Mulvaneys’ was first published in 1996. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. Her highly acclaimed previous novel, ‘Blonde’ (2000), was short-listed for the National Book Award.