The story of the Mulvaney family spans twenty-five years and is told from the perspective of the youngest son, Judd. In the beginning, the family is blessed – a successful business, a sprawling farm property (with ponies), and popular children (a cheerleader, a football star and a science-whiz-kid). A single incident becomes a turning point in the fortunes of the Mulvaneys and bit by bit, everything (and everyone) falls apart.
There were exquisite nuggets of truth in JCO’s words that stopped me in my tracks, words that got to the heart of a matter so succinctly that I couldn’t help but admire her deftness – ‘Nothing between humans is uncomplicated’ and ‘But you can’t disappoint me because I don’t love you’ and ‘There are different kinds of homesickness to fit different kinds of families.‘
But one line stood out, and it represented all that I liked and didn’t like about this book –
In a family, what isn’t spoken is what you listen for.
I was really listening to the Mulvaneys. Listening hard. The tragedy that befalls them (Marianne is date-raped) is described. The days and months and years that follow are described. Marianne’s anguish is described. Mike Jr.’s denial is described. Patrick’s need for revenge is described. But at the crux of the story – Michael’s rejection of his daughter and Corinne’s lack of response to this situation – there is silence. And I was listening but try as I might, I couldn’t truly understood Michael’s treatment of Marianne and JCO didn’t help me. Were the lengthy description of antique auctions, Patrick’s travels, and Muffin’s (the cat) kidney problems a better use of words than Michael’s agony? I don’t think so.
3/5 Dark. Meandering.
Marianne makes Patrick a minestrone soup with whatever is at hand and he says it’s the best soup he’s ever tasted.
‘Sunday night casseroles made of leftovers in combinations that weren’t repeatable.’