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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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2,9961651,905 (4.07)510
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)

Recently added bysadbookgirl, chelseagirl, Havran, JoshandMargarite, sandpiper, private library, DShaunS, StoutHearted
Legacy LibrariesRalph Ellison
  1. 121
    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (teelgee)
  2. 50
    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. 10
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  4. 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)
  5. 21
    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  6. 00
    The Other by Thomas Tryon (sturlington)
    sturlington: Somewhat similar, although the Jackson novel is far superior.
  7. 00
    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 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. 22
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
  10. 00
    Heartstones by Ruth Rendell (isabelx)

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English (162)  Italian (2)  French (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
A quick and chilling horror story. Definitely a classic. Beautifully written so that not only is the reader attached to the characters but that you really feel what they feel and yet wonder what could possibly happen next. ( )
  ToriC90 | Sep 28, 2015 |
A mysterious, quirky book that explore the issues of otherness and mob mentality. It certainly feels like a Shirley Jackson work, where a story starts out in a simple village, but then things escalate horrifyingly.

In this tale Constance and Mary Katherine Blackwood, along with their disabled Uncle Julian, are the last remnants of one of the oldest families in the village, but they are all shunned by their neighbors and in turn lock themselves away from the world in their large house. The reader soon comes to learn that this is due to the violent deaths of the rest of the Blackwoods, including their parents and little brother by arsenic poisoning at the dinner table. Constance, who cooked for the family, was blamed but acquitted in a court of law, but not in the court of public opinion. Things shake up for the Blackwoods when a cousin arrives and starts taking liberties with the family, much to Mary Katherine's disgust. It culminates in a shocking climax in this tale of gothic horror.

There are lots of similarities to Jackson's "The Lottery," so if you enjoyed that, then you will love this. The most striking comparison is a critique of village life and its symbiotic thinking, especially when reacting to "otherness." The town is unnecessarily cruel to the Blackwoods as a reaction to their fear of them and it compels them to bring out the darkest parts of their characters.

Mary Katherine has been cited as one of the most memorable characters in fiction, and she is an interesting one to try to figure out. As I read, I couldn't decide if she was mentally ill, a sociopath, merely a victim, or a ghost. This book provides an interesting character study of a disturbed family, in an equally disturbed environment. ( )
  StoutHearted | Sep 14, 2015 |
"I can't help it when people are frightened.I always want to frighten them more."

No voy a "spoilear" nada. Léanlo, es cortito y llevadero.

Es la clase de terror que me fascina: el miedo sutil, casi invisible, entrometiéndose en la rutina y en el silencio. Nada de sangre, ni tortura, ni dolor exagerado (innecesario siempre en las historias de terror/horror, etc.). La dosis precisa y perfecta de suspenso; un poco de desquicio y mucho misterio... muchas cumbres borrascosas e historias que son y no son.

Súper recomendado para quienes les gusta las historias de susto que se desarrollan lentamente y sin escenas explícitas.

( )
  LaMala | Jul 8, 2015 |
Fiction, America, Murder, Creepy, Death ( )
  shelley436 | May 25, 2015 |
I found the first chapter hard to get into, but after that I was hooked (in a sort of morbid fascination way). Mary Katherine (Merricat) goes to the village to buy groceries twice a week and brings them back to her family's fenced-in property, where she lives with her sister Constance, who never goes out, and her invalid uncle Julian. Six years ago Julian's wife and the sisters' parents and brother were poisoned to death with arsenic. Constance was tried for the crime and acquitted.

There were very amusing scenes, e.g. when Lucille Wright visits, hoping to get a glimpse of the "scene of the crime", but mostly things get weirder and weirder. I was never sure how much of what Julian said was true and at points doubted if anyone was really who they appeared to be. By the end it is more or less clear what is going on (I think!) and I liked the idea of the food baskets (but what would they have done for toilet roll?!) ( )
  pgchuis | May 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (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).

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shirley Jacksonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franzén, TorkelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, MonicaTranslatorsecondary 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.
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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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