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We Have Always Lived in the Castle by…
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)

by Shirley Jackson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,6382781,514 (4.08)663
  1. 141
    Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (teelgee)
  2. 100
    The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (taz_)
    taz_: I suspect that Iain Banks' "Wasp Factory" character Frank Cauldhame was inspired by Shirley Jackson's Merricat, as these two darkly memorable teenagers share a great many quirks - the totems and protections to secure their respective "fortresses", the obsessive superstitions that govern their daily lives and routines, their isolation and cloistered pathology, their eccentric families and dark secrets. Be warned, though, that "The Wasp Factory" is a far more explicit and grisly tale than the eerily genteel "Castle" and certainly won't appeal to all fans of the latter.… (more)
  3. 30
    A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (sturlington)
    sturlington: Sisters named Merry. Tremblay was clearly influenced strongly by Jackson.
  4. 52
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery by Alan Bradley (citygirl)
    citygirl: Castle is much darker and Flavia is more adorable than creepy (Merricat is quite creepy), but if you're interested in unusual young protagonists, with a very particular world view, try these.
  5. 20
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  6. 31
    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  7. 11
    The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen (Nialle)
    Nialle: Young, emotionally complex, imaginative narrators in isolated situations - have something going on that the reader only glimpses before the big reveal
  8. 11
    The Sister by Poppy Adams (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Two sisters with a mysterious relationship and dark history together, unreliable narrators, dark, old, rural houses with mysteries of their own... Though the books take different plotlines, they share so many similar elements that people who enjoyed the setting and storytelling of one will likely enjoy the other.… (more)
  9. 01
    Goblin by Ever Dundas (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Similar tone (and Dundas credits Jackson in the book's afterword).
  10. 01
    The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor (passion4reading)
    passion4reading: Though set within completely different landscapes, situations and time periods, each novel has the central theme of an outsider intruding upon an isolated close-knit family group, with disastrous consequences.
  11. 23
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
  12. 01
    Heartstones by Ruth Rendell (isabelx)
Ghosts (213)
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» See also 663 mentions

English (271)  Italian (3)  French (2)  All languages (276)
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
Creepy and weird to the millionth degree. ( )
  deeEhmm | Apr 3, 2019 |
This is not the kind of book I would normally read, but there is something rather magnetic about the Penguin Modern Classics series. This is an unsettling modern fairytale which tells of two sisters occupying a grand house on the edge of an American village with their disabled uncle.

The story is narrated by the 18 year old Merrikat, who gradually draws you into her world, which is superficially humdrum but gets darker and stranger once it becomes clear that the reason for their isolation is that the rest of the family died in a poisoning incident six years earlier. It is the elder sister Constance who was tried and acquitted for this crime, and the two sisters are complicit in hiding what they know. This existence is threatened when a cousin comes to stay. The book is a mixture of gothic horror and rather beautiful descriptive passages, and is hauntingly memorable. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 3, 2019 |
I think that perhaps I just didn't read this book at the right time, or maybe audiobook wasn't the right format for it. I thought it was okay, although it did drag in places and I wanted Jackson to get to the point. I have a feeling that it was original, exciting, and wonderfully creepy when it was first released back in 1962. If I had read it back when I was a child or teen, it might have really freaked me out. Unfortunately, being significantly older, I've read a lot more and seen my fair share of derivative films, so the big question in this book is not a surprise.

I really don't want to say more because the last thing I want to do is spoil it for someone who may not have seen or read the same things I have, but I must admit to being a little disappointed. I didn't care for the majority of the characters. The writing was good, but didn't really draw me in, but again, that may have more to do with the audiobook narrator than the actual text. So, I'll call this one good, but not great. ( )
  DGRachel | Apr 2, 2019 |
it's been far too long since I read a Shirley Jackson book. ( )
  authenticjoy | Mar 29, 2019 |
I missed reading this when I was younger, though I read much of Jackson's other works. This one was...okay. Though well-written, it's billed as gothic suspense which is a bit of an oversell. It's gothic, yes, but there's hardly any suspense. There are some interesting and well-written bits dropped like bread crumbs, but long stretches where the story just plods along. The pacing is extended version and the narrative gets a little ham-handed and obvious in spots, both of which get a little tiring. Constance is a bore and Merricat, well. I sort of wanted to see her in action, but alas.

I think this might be better read as a teen or in one's early 20s, even. Shirley Jackson is interesting--Lottery was rad and Hill House got Netflixed, but this one...ehhhh. ( )
  angiestahl | Mar 19, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
Of the precocious children and adolescents of mid-twentieth-century American fiction ... none is more memorable than eighteen-year-old "Merricat" of Shirley Jackson's masterpiece of Gothic suspense We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962).
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jackson, Shirleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bliss, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franzén, TorkelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ott, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serra, Roseanne J.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Pascal Covici
First words
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
Quotations
Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you’ll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!
You will be wondering about that sugar bowl, I imagine. Is it still in use? you are wondering; has it been cleaned? you may very well ask; was it thoroughly washed?
Our house was a castle, turreted and open to the sky.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The quiet, isolated life of the Blackwoods—eighteen-year-old Merricat; her older sister, Constance, who may have poisoned their parents six years ago; and their wheelchair-bound uncle—is disrupted by the arrival of a cousin pursuing the family fortune.
Haiku summary
Charles strives to drive the
lioness from her den, but
Merricat has claws.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143039970, Paperback)

Visitors call seldom at Blackwood House. Taking tea at the scene of a multiple poisoning, with a suspected murderess as one's host, is a perilous business. For a start, the talk tends to turn to arsenic. "It happened in this very room, and we still have our dinner in here every night," explains Uncle Julian, continually rehearsing the details of the fatal family meal. "My sister made these this morning," says Merricat, politely proffering a plate of rum cakes, fresh from the poisoner's kitchen. We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson's 1962 novel, is full of a macabre and sinister humor, and Merricat herself, its amiable narrator, is one of the great unhinged heroines of literature. "What place would be better for us than this?" she asks, of the neat, secluded realm she shares with her uncle and with her beloved older sister, Constance. "Who wants us, outside? The world is full of terrible people." Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic, burying talismanic objects beneath the family estate, nailing them to trees, ritually revisiting them. She has made "a powerful taut web which never loosened, but held fast to guard us" against the distrust and hostility of neighboring villagers.

Or so she believes. But at last the magic fails. A stranger arrives--cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune. He disturbs the sisters' careful habits, installing himself at the head of the family table, unearthing Merricat's treasures, talking privately to Constance about "normal lives" and "boy friends." Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods. The result is crisis and tragedy, the revelation of a terrible secret, the convergence of the villagers upon the house, and a spectacular unleashing of collective spite.

The sisters are propelled further into seclusion and solipsism, abandoning "time and the orderly pattern of our old days" in favor of an ever-narrowing circuit of ritual and shadow. They have themselves become talismans, to be alternately demonized and propitiated, darkly, with gifts. Jackson's novel emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more--like some of her other fictions--as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normality itself. "Poor strangers," says Merricat contentedly at last, studying trespassers from the darkness behind the barricaded Blackwood windows. "They have so much to be afraid of." --Sarah Waters

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:32 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.

» see all 12 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141191457, 0141194995

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