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We Were The Mulvaneys was released in 2001 and became highly sucessful in the States as it was one of the books chosen to be part of the highly influential Oprah's Book Club, a forerunner of Richard and Judy's book club here in the UK.
You can buy it for £6.99 on Amazon.
It tells the story of the Mulvaney family - mum Corrinne, dad - Michael Snr, sons Michael Jnr, Patrick and Judd (the youngest in the family) and daughter Marianne.
The family lead an idyllic rural life, living ona farm with a menagerie of animals and owning a prosperous roofing business whilst Corinne runs a ramshackle antique store as a hobby. They are well respected in the local are, particularly Marianne. Marianne is a beautiful, popular intelligent, innocent but naive young woman with a glowing future ahead of her. However, one night when she is 16 she is a victim of a terrible crime.
This crime sends shockwaves thorugh the family, the male members particularly and they all find themselves failed by justice and ostracised from the local community. As such, the family soon begins to disintigrate and we follow the separate lives they begin to live as they struggle to cope.
The book is an emotional rollercoaster and at times utterly devastating. I have never read any of Oates' previous works but the style of writing reminded me a lot of one of my favourite writers - Carol Shields.
A lot of the detail is in the seemingly mundane and it is this detail which makes the reader care about the character and empathise as much as I came to as time went on. This is really a literary equivalent to fly-on-the-wall in part!
The crime that sets into motion the chain of events that follows is really a catalyst but not a be-all-and-end-all. What follows is a strange mixture of both inevitability and unpredictability as you find in real life.
I was utterly engrossed in the story and loved the way it was written. I found it to never be dull or cliched with interesting references and approaches to family and relationships.
In a way I really don't want to say anymore as I feel this is a book that needs to be "discovered" but I appreciate that the exhaustive attention to detail would not be to everyone's taste and if you don't like the meticulous style of the book I can imagine that it would be totally unreadable.
Personally I will be looking into reading more books by this author for definite!