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We Were the Mulvaneys (The Perennial Collection)
 
 

We Were the Mulvaneys (The Perennial Collection) [Kindle Edition]

Joyce Carol Oates
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon.co.uk Review

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

Amazon Review

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


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 766 KB
  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; (Reissue) edition (20 Dec 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ALKTVIQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,686 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard lesson in growing up 31 Dec 2006
By Zannie
Format:Paperback
The core of the plot in this novel is around the reaction of a family to the rape of their idolised daughter. However, what I really took out of the book is not how to cope with a specific catastrophe, but the importance of inner strength compared to people who rely on external validation to make them feel good about who they are. The degeneration of the father is centred around his perception of what his family think of him, his clients and the various people of the town. His daughter, while somewhat supported internally by her own faith also appears to measure herself through external recognition, while feeling uncomfortable with it at the same time. The catalyst of her rape flings the characters apart, in some instances across the country and while there is more focus on some family members than others, the theme for all is the same in that they avoid a reconciliation with each other until they have come to terms with themselves and formed their own roots away from the central unit.

The lesson they are learning is that the family of one's childhood is never a permanent fixture and that growing away from it is an essential part of truly growing up. The wonderfully strong character of Corinne Mulvaney, the mother of the family, is fortunately the character that her children have inherited and while sometimes they lose their way on the journey, all 4 children are able to leave and develop the various next generations of Mulvaney.

The family is completely different at the close of the novel, but fundamentally intact as, with the exception of Michael Mulvaney Sr, they are all people who have learned to love and appreciate themselves for who they are before returning to the family unit to share their experiences and ensure that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

One note on this edition - the editing is slack, with some grammar and spelling errors, plus some continuity issues in the detail.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that will touch your heart! 30 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I bought this book on a recent trip, and I'm so glad that I did. I have never read a book that moved me so much, I could really feel for this poor family. Usually, I find it hard to absorb myself in a book, before I've read the first 100 pages but this time, I couldnt put it down from the very beginning.
The book brought home to me how vulnerable we all are, that we could all fall victim to an event that would destroy our lives as we know them. The rape of Marianne Mulvaney, changed the lives of all the characters in a different way, they all were all vastly changed people as the novel concluded to the way they were at the beginning, it highlighted the way a single event can change the entire attitudes and thinking of a whole family.
Marianne was not the only victim of the rape, her parents were and also her three brothers, and it destroyed them as a family. A family who had "everything", and were greatly admired in the community of Mount Ephraim, were suddenly outcasts, in financial difficulty and fighting amongst themselves. Their whole lives changed for the worst...
I would recommend this book to anyone, in fact I already have. It shows that however deep problems go, eventually they'll sort themselves out. The Mulvaney family will never be far from my thoughts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful saga 10 Oct 2001
By Louise
Format:Paperback
I have just finished reading "We Were The Mulvaneys" and I found it very interesting. It is a long book (c. 450 pages) and quite heavy-going at times, but there is always so much to think about. You get to see the story from so many characters' points of view and although you always have your own opinion on what happened, the author manages to convey everyone's different feelings so that we understand why each character feels that way, even if we disagree.
This is a book that really makes you think. See if you can read it at the same time as a friend so you have someone to discuss it with.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rather Frustrating Read 31 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Although the story is captivating, it just takes forever for Ms. Oates to tell it. The reader ends up knowing more detail about the characters than they probably know about themselves. After wading through it all, the ending is rather rushed and disappointing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
First of all I like JCO's writing, but this book stunned me with its characters, all of whom seem to make the most horrible decisions in life. I was frustrated and angry with every single one of them all through the book. I cannot believe that people would respond in this manner to the ordeal of the daughter. I am sad to finish many books because I know that I will miss the characters that I have just spent hours with. When I finished this book I had a different feeling. I said good riddance to all of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joyce Carol Oates succeeds again 1 Dec 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As an obsessive Joyce Carol Oates fan I am always conscious of the recent press highlighting (or should I say creating) the struggle between quality and quantity with her writing. I always take these criticisms to heart each time I pick up one of her novels. I think with this book, Joyce Carol Oates has captured a grotesque, yet painfully real piece of Americana again. At the beginning, I found the characters to be too idealistic. I thought a borderline scientific genius and an almost too Christian daughter could never develop from the same household. But as I read on, I thought maybe they were too real rather than idealistic. I realized the novel is through the voice of Judd, the youngest and often times forgotten Mulvaney. Oates captures his personal thoughts and his depictions of his family perfectly. Like always, Oates masters a voice so vividly and accurately, almost making the reader forget who is speaking. Often times in life, we pass others that are almost walking hyperboles because we view them through our own distorted lens. Oates proves to me once again she is a master at depicting the painfully real grotesque that envelopes all of our lives. This is a must read!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read
This is the story of a seemingly perfect family, which, beneath the surface is deeply dysfunctional. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Boatwoman
4.0 out of 5 stars A story that will find echoes in every heart and family .
This an Evocative and moving story of family disintegration after a tragic event. Yet it ends on a hopeful note.
Published 4 months ago by J. Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Oates' best
A good, long family saga but with a bit of a bite. The Mulvaneys are a blessed, enviable all-American family until their teenage daughter, Marianne, is the victim of date rape... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Reddy
5.0 out of 5 stars American Literature
This book was excellently written and kept you interested throughout. It is an American Classic! Really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in American... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Alex
4.0 out of 5 stars '1976 when everything came apart for us and was never again put...
Wonderful book, that starts off with the perfect American family: cheerleader daughter, sportsman eldest son, genius middle son...and the youngest, Judd, who narrates much of it. Read more
Published 18 months ago by sally tarbox
2.0 out of 5 stars and we needed editing.
While this story of family dysfunction amid small town corruption (sorry, folksiness) is one with a fair amount of incident and character, it tends to be rather extreme. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Cole Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyce Carol Oates - We Were the Mulvaneys
I've been trying to read Oates for ages but could never decide where to start. She's notoriously prolific. Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2010 by RachelWalker
4.0 out of 5 stars What is a family, after all, except memories?
Told by the "caboose" of the family "train", Judd, the youngest son of the Mulveneys, this book is a moving "family story", all the more touching for the complexity and variety of... Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2009 by Alessandra F.
5.0 out of 5 stars While there is still time
The Mulvaneys are well-off, secure, Mike Mulvaney is a proud man, raised in poverty he works hard, builds up his own roofing business; his wife Corinne is large-hearted,... Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2009 by Eileen Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Jam packed full of details
I loved the detail in this book even though it did make it very long. The description of the farm and surroundings was beautiful and drew an idyllic picture. Read more
Published on 26 Dec 2007 by Janie U
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