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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)

by Shirley Jackson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,4043141,347 (4.08)700
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.
  1. 151
    Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (teelgee)
  2. 101
    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. 20
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  5. 10
    The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (sturlington)
  6. 43
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie 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.
  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. 22
    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  9. 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)
  10. 23
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
  11. 01
    Goblin by Ever Dundas (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Similar tone (and Dundas credits Jackson in the book's afterword).
  12. 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.
  13. 01
    Heartstones by Ruth Rendell (isabelx)
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» See also 700 mentions

English (307)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (313)
Showing 1-5 of 307 (next | show all)
I love how Shirley Jackson writes and I think that’s what kept me going. I did like the book, but I’m not sure if I really understand it. It’s a bit too surreal for my taste. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
Creepy, melodramatic, and oddly funny. Listened to this one in the car on a road trip with my college-aged son - it was selected strictly for genre and length, and neither one of us knew anything about it. We both enjoyed it. It's "Grey Gardens" meets "The Beguiled". ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
I really liked the slow build to this classic Shirley Jackson novel. The book is told from Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood's point of view. We don't know what has happened to make her, and her sister Constance pariahs to the town in which they live. We know that the Blackwoods were/are wealthy and the town has been jealous of them setting themselves apart from everyone until whatever incident that has occurred.

We see Merricat interact with the town when she has to go and get groceries and library books and we see that most of the town is pretty terrible towards her at least. Even though the sisters do get visitors, we get to see one woman who definitely wants to do what she can for Constance (and seemed to be quite smart honestly) and another who wants to be nosy about the family.

Merricat spends her day protecting her home, her sister, and sleeping and following her cat Jonas around. The two sisters care for their invalid Uncle Julian with Constance doing this cheerfully, while Merricat resents him though tells herself she will be kinder to him.

When the sisters cousin Charles comes to visit, the household is changed with Merricat doing what she can to protect herself and her sister from him. Charles I initially saw as a savior to at least Constance. Even Merricat can see that maybe Constance needs something more than being a caretaker to her and her sister. And it seems that Merricat loves that Constance is shut away with just her for company.

The slow reveal of what happened to the family was nicely done. I have to say though I felt sorry for both sisters in the end. They both do what they can to protect the other, though it seems that both of them are failing each other in the end. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This book is perfect. Unsettling, gripping, masterfully written. ( )
  matthewmcvickar | Jun 21, 2020 |
Jackson doesn’t pull any punches in this novel showcasing human ugliness. The cat is the most likable character and the author might’ve meant so. Expertly written, of course. This book is going to stay with me, I can already tell. ( )
  chibitika | Jun 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 307 (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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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.
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.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141191457, 0141194995

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