#AtoZChallenge W: We were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates


#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.


The Mulvaneys of High Point Farm in Mount Ephraim, New York, are a large happy family, who have been blessed with good looks and a happy, future full of certainty. But as time evolves, things don’t go to plan for the Mulvaneys. On Valentine’s Day in 1976, an incident, involving a member of the family, causes upset and reverberation through the family for the rest of their lives.

The story spans twenty five years, and is told years later by Judd, the youngest son, as he attempts to make sense of the past and the events that destroyed his happy family.

My Thoughts

We Are The Mulvaneys is a story of the rise and fall of a family. Of how quickly the perfect life can become a tragic life. The first few chapters contain quite long character introductions, which some may find tedious as I did at first. But they grew on me, and later in the book, I was thankful for such thorough introductions, as they helped me understand why certain characters did what they did, and why they reacted the way they did to unexpected circumstances.


It was the title that had me hooked immediately, making me want to read this book. We WERE the Mulvaney’s. Why ‘were’? Immediately I wanted to know more about what happened to this family.

I say every reader out there should read this book, but I may be biased because I love love this story of the Mulvaney family. I was totally enthralled from start to finish and couldn’t get enough of this slightly wacky family and their wacky ways. Perhaps this book means more to me because of events beyond my control that destroyed my own happy family life. I did feel a connection and sympathy towards the Mulvanney Mum, even though many times, I felt like shaking her and telling her to wake up and do something to bring her family back together. 

“It is a book that will break your heart, heal it, then break it again” – Los Angeles Times
“One of our most audaciously talented writers: – Erica Jong
“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 are wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman” – The Herald

Star Rating 4.5 star

About The Author

Oates in 2014


Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific American author, born in 1938. Her first novel was published in 1962 and she has since published a further 42 book. She has won many American and international awards for her writing and her books. We Were The Mulvaneys became a best seller after being selected as an Oprah’s Book Club book.

Published by Harper Perennial, Harper Collins Publishers in 2007.
First published by Fourth Estate in 2001. Paperback – 454 pages

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

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 Images: Goodreads

10 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge W: We were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

  1. Thank you for reminding me about this book, which I too would highly recommend. I don’t know what kind of image I had in my mind of Joyce Carol Oates’ writing, but I hadn’t read anything by her and probably wouldn’t have done so if my book group hadn’t picked it. It was engrossing impressive not only in its ambition and scope, but also in its wisdom about human nature and families. I don’t remember details, but if _We Were the Mulvaneys_ is at all representative of Oates’ writing, then I must read more of it. Can you recommend another novel by her?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to recommend another by JCO but this is the first of her books that I’ve read also. I’m sure that I’ll read another soon. I’m a bit worried that Mulvanneys has spoiled me as I saw that it is her most popular book.

    Liked by 1 person

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