We Were the Mulvaneys

  • by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Narrated by Scott Shina
  • 22 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Author of 27 novels, Joyce Carol Oates has won a National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award. She has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Readers around the world marvel at her ability to trace the subtle dynamics at work in the modern American family.
Judd is the youngest of the four Mulvaney children - three boys and a girl - on their parents’ lush farm in upstate New York. In his childhood, Judd is swept along by the sheer energy of the Mulvaneys and their wealth of beloved family stories. But now, 30 years old, Judd looks back through his memories to tell the secrets that eventually ripped apart the fabric of his storybook family.
Reminiscent of the works of Jane Smiley and Anne Tyler, Oates’ novel tells a tale that could be tragic, but is, instead, a ringing affirmation. Narrator Scott Shina’s performance perfectly captures the complex relationships within the Mulvaney clan.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Overlooked Masterpiece

Mulvaneys deserves more attention and prominence in Oates' oeuvre. It didn't receive a National Book Award (like here 1969 work, them) or a Pulitzer nomination (like Black Water, What I Lived For, and Blonde). It's notoriety came from selection by the Oprah book club and a movie adaptation.

But Mulvaneys is excellent! Oates crafts perceptibly realistic characters, who are as emotionally complicated and psychologically baffling as any real human being. The novel also interestingly forays into religious and epistemological issues; in fact, Oates depicts the religious Maryanne heroically, though she cannot defend her faith against her brother's deep-seeded naturalism.

Oates impinges stirring literary conceits upon this simple story, which she admits is indebted to Shakespeare’s King Lear. The narration, generally linear, features vivid flashbacks. The structure works compellingly well, as the flashbacks provide foil for the proceedings of the novel.

The narration is quite good with one exception. Shina often hints at a rural Southern accent, but the work is set in rural upstate New York. This was distracting through the first third of the audiobook.

Otherwise, it's a great listen!
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- Jason


Twenty-two hours of nothing. This is a story of a superficial family, growing up in a small town and constantly worrying about appearances. Mrs. Mulvaney was moving about with her head in the clouds. She seemed more concerned about the farm animals than she was about her husband and children. She chose to hide behind her faith in God with the expectation that her family would take care of themselves. Not having parents to guide her, the daughter was left floundering and on her own. The father was no better with parenting skills. He focused on having a successful business and living a superficial life, even to the point of joining a country club where he was only tolerated. One act of violence, eventually forced this family to realize that they had no foundation to keep them strong.
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- Sandra

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-20-2010
  • Publisher: Recorded Books