Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by…

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (original 1962; edition 1984)

by Shirley Jackson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,5482121,491 (4.06)569
Title:We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Authors:Shirley Jackson
Info:Penguin Books (1984), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:sisters, murder

Work details

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962)

  1. 141
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (teelgee)
  2. 70
    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. 20
    A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (sturlington)
    sturlington: Sisters named Merry. Tremblay was clearly influenced strongly by Jackson.
  4. 21
    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  5. 10
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  6. 32
    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. 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. 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
  9. 00
    Heartstones by Ruth Rendell (isabelx)
  10. 23
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 569 mentions

English (209)  Italian (2)  French (1)  All (212)
Showing 1-5 of 209 (next | show all)
Eighteen year old Mary Katherine Blackwood ('Merricat') lives with her older sister, Constance, and her doddering wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian, in a house that has become their castle: impenetrable to strangers - in fact to anyone. Everyone else in her family is dead.
Merricat is part feral child, part shrewd adult, existing within a set of boundaries, both arranged for her and self-imposed. As Constance has never returned to the village since she was acquitted of the arsenic-laced murders of her family, Merricat braves the taunts of the villagers, all of who she wishes dead.
But with the arrival of their cousin Charles, the balance of their lives begins to tilt.
A lot happens in this short "gothic suspense" as Joyce Carol Oates has described it. I eagerly await the recently published biography of Shirley Jackson and discovering the roots of her fervid imagination. ( )
  PPLS | Jan 12, 2017 |
The first time I read this was during a Shirley Jackson binge I went on in 2004/2005. I liked the book then, but reading it again more than a decade later, I appreciate it even more.

A couple of months ago I attended a piano performance by pianist who played so skillfully that he made very complex pieces seem not only effortless but a joy to play. Reading this novel, I felt like I did while watching this pianist play. Jackson weaves the story of Merricat and Constance and their interactions with the world with subtlety and grace. I love the way she's able to turn something simple and innocuous or even at first quaint and delightful into something dark and bottomless. It's like going over the first hill on a roller coaster I didn't know I was on. Except that I wouldn't like it if it really were a roller coaster and not just a simile. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Dec 25, 2016 |
A Grimm take on Housekeeping with its themes of an ostracised family, specifically a sisters-duo, the novel is gently disturbing, eased by the methodical delights of the narrator's superstitious rituals and the sensuality with which the Blackwood infuse their foods. Privy to Merricat's intensely macabre and contradictory flighty inner thoughts, the obvious twist - and even the fact that there is one - should leave no readers surprised. The intrusion of the cousin as an outside force is expectedly the catalyst to propel the story of the Blackwoods but that the Blackwoods should become even more ingrained in their solitary creepy ways was the unexpected relish in my frustration at the unsophisticated, bull-in-strategic-boardroom way Charles declared war on Merricat. Her voice was that of the horror-film singsongy twelve-year-old but physically she is eighteen so for him to treat her like a child, throwing tantrums at her, was a particularly un-Machiavellian move for someone with a plan to seduce his cousin into giving him all their money. Recommended for under-eighteens. ( )
  kitzyl | Nov 28, 2016 |
Strange, creepy, and slightly off - and a really cool read! Sort of like her short story, "The Lottery", but then again, it isn't. Two sisters, Mary Katherine and Constance, live with their Uncle Julian in the Blackwood house, where a terrible family murder occurred. And the people in town don't like any of the three! Throw in a strange cousin, a fire, and a cat named Jonas and add a dash of Shirley Jackson and voila! A very curious and wonderful read!

"Merricat, said Constance, would you like a cup of tea?" Creepy! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Nov 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 209 (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
Shirley Jacksonprimary authorall editionscalculated
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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Pascal Covici
First words
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.
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?
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.
Our house was a castle, turreted and open to the sky.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


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

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 5 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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
912 wanted7 pay10 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.06)
1 10
1.5 1
2 35
2.5 14
3 181
3.5 99
4 439
4.5 97
5 380


4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141191457, 0141194995

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 111,650,243 books! | Top bar: Always visible