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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
4,3552561,597 (4.07)634
  1. 141
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (teelgee)
  2. 90
    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. 10
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  5. 10
    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
  6. 21
    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  7. 10
    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)
  8. 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.
  9. 00
    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.
  10. 00
    Heartstones by Ruth Rendell (isabelx)
  11. 22
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
Ghosts (135)
1960s (179)
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» See also 634 mentions

English (252)  Italian (3)  French (1)  All languages (256)
Showing 1-5 of 252 (next | show all)
Merricat, said Morbus, will you ever be forgotten? Oh no, said Morbus, you've enamored me. ( )
  morbusiff | Sep 20, 2018 |
The Blackwood family has lived in their great house on the edge of the village for generations. Six years ago, though, the family sat down to dinner, and most of them died. Only the two daughters, Constance and Mary Catherine, and their Uncle Julian, survived. The two girls did not eat the poisoned sugar, and Julian didn't get enough of it.
Constance was acquitted, but is assumed by the village to be guilty. After all, she cooked the dinner. In the years since, the surviving Blackwoods live in virtual isolation, with few visitors, and Mary Catherine, now eighteen, going into the village only twice a week, for food shopping and library books. They've built a quiet and orderly life. Mary Catherine has a set of magical rituals she does to keep them all safe. And then cousin Charles Blackwood comes to visit, and everything comes apart.

It's Mary Catherine who tells the story, and she is so sure and certain of her understanding that it takes a while to recognize what the specific wrongness is in that viewpoint.

This is a quiet little horror story, all the more effective because of the characteristically understated way Jackson tells it. It's a little gem of an American classic.

I bought this book.
( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Lovely. Quirky and deliciously dark but also funny and gentle and heartwarming in a matricidal / patricidal kind of way.

One of those books that strikes you as utterly original and in no way a copy of anything we have seen before. Think Edgar Allan Poe meets the Addams Family perhaps.

I loved it even if I didn't fully understand it.

I am reviewing the audiobook so I should mention that I loved the reader (Bernadette Dunne) who gave the book a delightful and engaging read.

This book does not strike me as a work that should be characterized by the term "horror", but thats just me. I found it to be more touching and endearing than horrible. ( )
  blnq | Jul 16, 2018 |
Read this book for so many reasons...including having one of the best reading experiences ever. I can’t wait to pick up my library hold on the bio of Shirley Jackson. Who can dream up such a story? What does it all mean? It probably really happened and is happening. Also, I live on “the moon”. ( )
  joyfulmimi | Jul 12, 2018 |
What isn't enjoyable about Shirley Jackson?

She sets the scene in the classic Gothic manner. There's the house up on the hill, the mysterious deaths by arsenic poisoning, the crippled eccentric Uncle, the two young women, and even the strangely knowledgeable cat. The villagers fear them, they them; and then the cousin comes into town with questionable motives. Once you add in Shirley Jackson's dark humor, it is truly a wonderful premise.

Normally I find books from this period a bit difficult to read for the language; I've yet to encounter that problem with Shirley Jackson's writing. There is a point to everything, and the imagery is such that it sticks with you whether you wish it to or not. She weaves a wonderful story, and creates the twisted macabre perspective with such a deep dash of humor that I, for one, often found myself grinning.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a good book, and though I would recommend The Lottery and Other Stories over it, I think I would only do so because that collection is far longer than the novel. Shirley Jackson is an author to both admire and savor. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 252 (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 (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jackson, Shirleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bliss, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franzén, TorkelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolAfterwordsecondary 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.
Last words
(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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