Archive for the ‘Fill In The Gap 100 Project’ Category

Book : We Were The Mulvaneys
Author:Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Plume
ISBN-10: 0452277205
ISBN-13: 978-0452282827
Number Of Pages:464

We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

This book had been lying around for a long time on the shelf , when I finally picked it up to read it , it was because this was the first book that I could pull out on a rainy afternoon to while away my time. Now little did I know at that time ,that I would need more than an afternoon to finish this really beautiful piece of literature.

We Were The Mulvaneys..Odd choice for a title ,I thought. If they WERE then what are they now? What must have happened to them. You need to read a good 464 pages to see what happened to them and believe me you would want to know.

Story is set in 1970s chronicles the joys and tribulations of the Mulvaney family through the eyes of the youngest one ,Judd Mulvaney. A happy family is shattered on a Valentine’s Day when Marianne the beautiful daughter of Micheal and Corrine Mulvaney is raped by her senior at a party. Life is never the same again. Once a lively part of her group ,very popular Marianne is shunned by her friends ,family is looked down upon in the community. I know, what you must be thinking ,but it was 1970’s remember , so the social stigma still existed. The girl bears the brunt of the incident. Her parents distance her from them .This incident not only destroys Marianne life , it infectiously takes the life out of this family, it destroys a marriage. Eldest son Mikey Jr joins the marines , the second son Patrick hatches plans to get justice for his sister and the youngest sibling Judd ,our narrator is spectator to this family destruction. He says in the first few pages this account is like a family album ,something that his mom never kept during those days , only thing differing is ,its not all happy moments,its a full un cut account of his family’s grief.

The character I loved the most was Marianne . Her character if written today would have been given more tools to fight back after what happens to her but even without being the crusader who fights the system she endeared herself to me. Her decision of not supporting her father in filing a law suit against her rapist , makes her the victim of her father ‘s anger leading to being exiled. I wonder did her parents ever understand her? A soft spoken , beautiful girl , once loved by all ,she finds it difficult to like herself now. Some wounds take a really long time to heal and they aren’t all skin deep.

What was once a happy complete family is torn in to bits and shreds and scattered around. But can it be rebuilt again , after so many years ? Can they still be the Mulvaneys of High Point Farm ,that they used to be? To know that you need to read the book and find out.

This book took more time than usual and you will understand why when you read it.Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a classic and very solid one at that. I had always wanted to read it but never got a chance so I put it up on my Centuries Challenge and read it off. It is a beautiful piece of literature I must say.Its poetry and prose combined together.

Canterbury Tales is a set of stories told by pilgrims going to visit the shrine of Thomas Backet , a saint in Canterbury. Story begins with the introduction of each pilgrim who have come from various parts of England. The group consists of the Knight, his son the Squire, the Knight’s Yeoman, a Prioress, a Second Nun, a Monk, a Friar, a Merchant, a Clerk, a Man of Law, a Franklin, a Weaver, a Dyer, a Carpenter, a Tapestry-Maker, a Haberdasher, a Cook, a Shipman, a Physician, a Parson, a Miller, a Manciple, a Reeve, a Summoner, a Pardoner, the Wife of Bath and Chaucer. Host of the Tabard inn,Harry sets the rules for them.They have to tell stories , two each during to and fro journey .and he will decide whose tale is best of all based on its meaning and moral. Thus begins the book with these pilgrims,some of them brave ,some cunning ,some naive yet all of them adding to the picture a unique quality that doesn’t fail to stand out at the end of the particular tale told by them.A comparison done with present times will surely show similar characters in our midst.

Being a romantic at heart ,I loved the Knight’s tale the most .Though other tales were equally good.The themes of the tales include love, chivalry, dishonesty, sermon and so on but most of them with a religious message. Some tales I must tell you are incomplete and it is not clear if Chaucer ever completed this work as it abruptly ends with no winner chosen in the end.As the characters have been introduced in the first chapter the focus of the book is mostly on the tales .This in no way makes any difference ,as it still a wonderful book for all Classics and Poetry lovers.

Written in the Middle Ages this book is considered Geoffrey Chaucer’s best work.


The real fun part of the Fill In The Gap 100 Project was selecting the books for which I had to clean up and dig out my book shelves.It proved to be a great experience ,as I found so many books that I wanted to read from a long time but had kept them out of reach.So the task completed ,I am putting up my list which has books from almost all genre.

1. The Book Thief- Markus Zusak

2. We Were The Mulvaneys- Joyce Carol Oates

3. BirdSong-Sebastian Faulks

4. Katherine- Anya Seton

5. The Wind In The Willows –Kenneth Graham

6. Away-Amy Bloom

7. The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen

8. The Dante Club-Matthew Pearl

9. Finding Grace-Alyssa Brugman

10. Lady Susan –Jane Austen

11. Mailman –J Robert Lennon

12. Sophie’s Choice-William Styron

13. Crime And Punishment- Fyodor Dostoevsky

14. The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

15. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Scaffer

16. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky

17. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

18. While I was Gone-Sue Miller

19. Stuart Little- E B White

20. To Kill A Mocking Bird –Harper Lee

21. The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

22. Kafka On The Shore-Haruki Murakami

23. What The Body Remembers- Shauna Singh Baldwin

24. Kaddish for a Child Not Born- Imre Kertész

25. The Stone Diaries-Carol Shields

26. A Very Long Engagement-Sebastien Japrisot

27. The Zoo Keeper’s Wife-Diane Ackerman

28. The Story of A Marriage – Andrew Sean Greer

29. Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

30. Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

31. November Rain – Al Raines

32. A Lesson Before Dying-Ernest J Gaines

33. A Short History of Nearly Everything-Bill Bryson

34. The Cider House Rules –John Irving

35. Ivanhoe -Sir Walter Scott

36. The Great Gatsby- Scott Fitzgerald

37. Grapes Of Wrath-John Steinbeck

38. War and Peace -Leo Tolstoy ( re read)

39. Prizes-Erich Segal

40. Marley And Me –John Grogan

41. The Host-Stephenie Meyer

42. The Bone Setter’s Daughter-Amy Tan

43. Autumn Of the Patriarch-Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. Catch-22 –Joseph Heller

45. A Brief History Of Time-Stephen Hawking

46. Atlas Shrugged –Ayn Rand

47. Unaccustomed Earth-Jhumpa Lahiri

48. Two Lives-Vikram Seth

49. Illusions-Richard Bach

50. A Passage To India- E M Forster

51. Canterbury Tales-Geoffrey Chaucer

52. Silas Marner- George Eliot

53. Beloved-Toni Morrison

54. The Poisonwood Bible-Barbara Kingsolver

55. The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie

56. Thank You, Jeeves- P.G.WoodHouse

57. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

58. Purple Hibiscus- Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie

59. The Trial-Franz Kafka

60. Doctor Zhivag0-Boris Pasternak

61. A Death In The Family-James Agee

62. Great Expectations-Charles Dickens

63. All Quiet On The Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

64. Famished Road-Ben Okri

65. God Of Small Things- Arundhati Roy

66. The Sound And The Fury –William Faukner

67. Ender’s Game-Orson Scott Card

68. Remembrance Of Things Past- Marcel Proust

69. Good Earth –Pearl S Buck ( re read)

70. The Road –Cormac McCarthy

71. Dark Roots-Cate Kennedy

72. The Stranger-Albert Camus

73. Change of Heart-Jodi Picoult

74. No Country for Old Men- by Cormac McCarthy

75. The House of Mirth -by Edith Wharton

76. Lottery- by Patricia Wood

77. Before I Die -Jenny Downham

78. The Member of the Wedding- by Carson McCullers

79. A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man-James Joyce

80. The Hours –Micheal Cunningham

81. Wives and Daughters-Ekizabeth Gaskell

82. Black Beauty-Anna Sewell( re read)

83. 2001 Space Oddyssey – Arthur C Clarke

84. The Talented Mr Ripley-Patricia Highsmith

85. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance-Robert Pirsig

86. Slaughterhouse Five -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

87. Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

88. Final Diagnosis- Arthur Hailey ( re read)

89. I, Claudius –Robert Graves

90. The Story of A Marriage – Andrew Sean Greer

91. The Reader-Bernhard Schlink

92. Song Of Solomon-Toni Morrison

93. Tales Of Sevastopol –Leo Tolstoy

94. Edgar Allan Poe Complete Tales

95. Phantom Of The Opera-

96. Little Dorrit-Charles Dickens

97. Lock And Key-Sarah Dessen

98. The Guide-R.K.Narayan

99. Malgudi Days –R.K.Narayan

100.Daughter Of Fortune-Isabel Allende

I am a Jane Austen Fan and a solid one at that, having read most of her books not once but many times.Lady Susan ,was one book that somehow didn’t make up to my book shelf until recently.I saw a review on one of the blogs and promptly checked it out from my local library.I knew from the other reviews that it was one of the later published works of the author and it was in form of letters but didn’t realise that it would be so different from rest of her works.By different ,I mean ,the protagonist,Lady Susan..She is not the usual strong minded but lovable characters Jane creates .Lady Susan is very beautiful no doubt ,but also selfish(seriously) and cunning .A combination, we don’t usually attribute to heroines,not to Austen heroines at the least.But this one is!!

The main plot revolves around Lady Susan’s attempts to find herself a good match ,within a short period of the death of her husband and also some one really rich for her teenage daughter , who hates this idea. To fulfill this task, she lands at the house of her brother, Mr Vernon , even though she hasn’t been totally nice to him or his wife in the past.She uses her talents to accomplish her task to the fullest and that really makes it fun to read.Best part is when Mrs Vernon’s brother falls for her even after knowing about her not so nice past history.And not to forget she has an affair with a much married man. The book is in form of letters written by the central characters, unfolding the story in a really nice manner.Certain moral issues are dealt with as is usual with any Austen book and the theme of younger men for older women also comes up in this one.

Not a long winding novel like the rest of her works but a quick read. Funny,rather interesting work of an author the literary world loves so much.I would recommend it to any classics or Austen fan.This book is my second entry for my Classics challenge 2009. Two down three more to go.