Joyce Carol Oates' We Were the Mulvaneys
is the story of a happy family. After decades of marriage, Mum and Dad are still in love--and the proud parents of a brood of youngsters, which 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 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 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
It will consume you. --The Washington Post Book World New testimony to Oates' great intelligence and dead-on imaginative powers. It is a book that will break your heart, heal it, then break it again every time you think about it. --Los Angeles Times Book Review What keeps us coming back to Oates Country is her uncanny gift of making the page a window, with something happening on the other side that we d swear was like life itself. --The New York Times Book Review A major achievement that stands with Oates finest studies of American life...the novel is a testament to the tenacious bonds of the family, the restorative power of love and capacity to endure and prevail. --The Chicago Tribune"