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We Have Always Lived in the Castle by…

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

by Shirley Jackson

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3,4822071,523 (4.06)564
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
    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)
  4. 20
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  5. 31
    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  6. 10
    A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (sturlington)
    sturlington: Sisters named Merry. Tremblay was clearly influenced strongly by Jackson.
  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. 33
    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. 23
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
  10. 01
    Heartstones by Ruth Rendell (isabelx)

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» See also 564 mentions

English (203)  Italian (2)  French (1)  All languages (206)
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
Okay, what the fuck.


What was that.

I don't even understand.

I read this on recommendation from Scribd. I'd read a Shirley Jackson short story before (can you guess which one? The Lottery! Ayyy~.) Anyway, I'd read one of her short stories before and it was really different to a lot of the other stuff I've read. And I know of so many people who absolutely adore her and her writing style, so I thought I'd give this one a go.

Ohohohoho boy.

This was terrifying in a really subversive way. I didn't like reading it. I didn't want to keep reading it, but I wanted to see if my suspicions were correct and what happened in the end.

This book is dark and sly and horrible and I marvel at her ability to casually terrify me into listening to this book.

She just did it so effortlessly. So, like, I don't like the book, so I want to give it two stars, but then I listened to so much of it that I feel like I have to give it 4 stars? Maybe a 3.5, just to be on the safe side. I might rate this again, once I've read more of her works, to see how they compare, but for now, 3.5 stars. c:

All ratings aside, though, this is still subversive Southern Gothic at its best, and you should read it. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
I actually liked the story and i think it was much better written then The Haunting of Hill House. I loved the concept of the Haunting of Hill House but it was terribly written. So anyways, this was not a 5 star but it was good. Ive never really cared for alot of short stories unless there just exceptionally written and this wasnt exceptional but it was decent....(Im having a hard time with this review)...there was really just no plot to it i guess....you just have to try it for yourself i guess. Lol ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
Spoiler Alert:
I could not figure out what was really going on in the story until abt Chapter 3.I thought maybe Merricat and Constance were dead,maybe the villagers were all dead spirits. In actuality it is story of family with mental illness.Everyone in this family needed help! The townspeople for most part were wicked & certainly didn't help matters. Some townspeople genuinely cared abt Merricat and Constance.
Townspeople were quite guilt ridden after the trouble they had caused the 2 sisters.I love Jackson's portrayal of humans and their dark side. This story kept me engaged and wanting to know more. I had mixed feelings abt Charles Blackwood,but basically I htink he was just out for Constance's money. Interesting read. Although I was disappointed it was a family with mental illness. I guess I wanted more of a scare.
Interesting and keeps you guessing1 ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
This mystery/thriller focuses on the survivors of the well-to-do Blackwood family six years after most of the family met their end when a poisoner put arsenic in the sugar for their dessert of berries. The novel is narrated by the teenager Mary Katherine or “Merricat” who had been sent to her room without dinner the night of the poisoning. Her Uncle Julian survived the poisoning but is severely disabled. The other survivor is Merricat’s elder sister Constance who did not take sugar on her berries and was tried and acquitted for the crime but is still seen as the villain in the local community. Only Merricat ventures outside of the family home to do the shopping and there meets with open derision toward her family from the villagers. This uneasy life is further disrupted when a cousin named Charles moves into the home in what only Merricat is initially able to recognize as an attempt to gain the Blackwood family fortune. Merricat is an unreliable narrator and she is convinced that she must protect her home using sympathetic magic while her only “friend” is a cat. I won’t go into the details of the revelations and incidents that follow but it is a moody and creepy novel balanced with sympathetic portrayals of unusual characters. ( )
1 vote Othemts | Aug 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 203 (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 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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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 5 descriptions

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

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141191457, 0141194995

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