We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Oates
(Oprah's Book Club)

71%

8 Critic Reviews

"We Were the Mulvaneys" is yet new testimony to her great intelligence...On a more immediate and emotional level, it's an extremely generous book about the limits of love and responsibility.
-LA Times

Synopsis

The first Oprah Book Club® selection of 2001!

A New York Times Notable Book

"It's the novel closest to my heart…. I'm deeply moved that Oprah Winfrey has selected this novel for Oprah's Book Club, a family novel presented to Oprah's vast American family."
--Joyce Carol Oates

Moving away from the dark tone of her more recent masterpieces, Joyce Carol Oates turns the tale of a family struggling to cope with its fall from grace into a deeply moving and unforgettable account of the vigor of hope and the power of love to prevail over suffering.The Mulvaneys of High Point Farm in Mt. Ephraim, New York, are a large and fortunate clan, blessed with good looks, abundant charisma, and boundless promise. But over the twenty-five year span of this ambitious novel, the Mulvaneys will slide, almost imperceptibly at first, from the pinnacle of happiness, transformed by the vagaries of fate into a scattered collection of lost and lonely souls.It is the youngest son, Judd, now an adult, who attempts to piece together the fragments of the Mulvaneys' former glory, seeking to uncover and understand the secret violation that occasioned the family's tragic downfall. Each of the Mulvaneys endures some form of exile- physical or spiritual - but in the end they find a way to bridge the chasms that have opened up among them, reuniting in the spirit of love and healing.Profoundly cathartic, Oates' acclaimed novel unfolds as if, in the darkness of the human spirit, she has come upon a source of light at its core. Rarely has a writer made such a startling and inspiring statement about the value of hope and compassion.
 

About Joyce Oates

See more books from this Author
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.
 
Published January 1, 1996 by Dutton (1996).. 454 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for We Were the Mulvaneys
All: 8 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Sep 02 2008

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.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Sarah Estime on Aug 03 2009

I was fascinated by her usage of fragments, her tangling imagery, her characterization, and the plot that held it all. I felt like I was bluntly in the minds of these siblings and understood them so.

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Heather Watt on Sep 12 2009

Joyce Carol Oates invites readers to become part of the Mulvaney family and learn how their model family slowly deteriorated in We Were The Mulvaneys.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Jain McCarroll on Jan 24 2011

This is a long book, more than 450 pages, but it is by no means a slog. I stayed up till two in the morning turning pages as fast as I could, with tears streaming, to find out the fate of the Mulvaneys.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by BEVERLY LOWRY on Dec 29 2008

"We Were the Mulvaneys" is yet new testimony to her great intelligence...On a more immediate and emotional level, it's an extremely generous book about the limits of love and responsibility.

Read Full Review of We Were the Mulvaneys (Oprah'... | See more reviews from LA Times

Suite 101

Above average
Reviewed by Susan Henderson on Mar 24 2008

We Were the Mulvaneys must be savored like a long lost family photo album. Readers who choose patiently to explore it as such will find snapshots of their own families within its pages.

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Joanne V. Creighton on Sep 26 2008

Indeed, this book is about the ways of the heart, the compelling ties of love in this family ("We Mulvaneys are joined at the heart") that endure despite the misfortune and miscommunication that drive them apart.

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Salon

Above average
Reviewed by David Futrelle on Sep 26 2008

Detailing the small rituals of intimacy that define a close-knit family, Oates pulls us gently into the comfortable Mulvaney world. When this world begins to break apart, we fully grasp the extent of the tragedy...

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Reader Rating for We Were the Mulvaneys
58%

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