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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin…
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (original 1962; edition 2006)

by Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ott (Illustrator), Jonathan Lethem (Introduction)

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2,611None2,280 (4.06)448
Member:aarti
Title:We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
Authors:Shirley Jackson
Other authors:Thomas Ott (Illustrator), Jonathan Lethem (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Edition: Deluxe, Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:****1/2
Tags:2013, Gothic, Family, Mystery, Audiobook, Unreliable Narrator

Work details

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

1960s (20) 2011 (14) 20th century (51) American (43) American fiction (14) American literature (44) classic (28) classics (30) family (36) favorites (14) fiction (460) gothic (148) gothic fiction (13) horror (257) library (16) literature (27) mental illness (43) murder (69) mystery (91) novel (70) own (13) poison (34) read (57) read in 2010 (15) read in 2011 (13) Shirley Jackson (24) sisters (58) suspense (45) to-read (95) USA (14)
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  2. 40
    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)
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    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  4. 10
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  5. 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)
  6. 00
    The Keep by Jennifer Egan (sturlington)
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    The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (sturlington)
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    Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson (sturlington)
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    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
  10. 00
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  11. 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.
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» See also 448 mentions

English (137)  Italian (2)  All languages (139)
Showing 1-5 of 137 (next | show all)
What an excellent piece of writing.

I really enjoyed Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House when I read it for the first time this past Halloween (dare I say it influenced my writing during NaNoWriMo?) but We Have Always Lived in the Castle is even better. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
I... honestly have no words. This is like [b:Wide Sargasso Sea|44597|Wide Sargasso Sea|Jean Rhys|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327870846s/44597.jpg|142647] in that I *think* I enjoyed it, but I'm really not sure what the heck happened. I might need to make a shelf "no idea how to rate this". This is also another one where I'd almost like to read it for a class, just to get some discussion going.
Very strange.

EDIT: Just started over from the beginning. I cannot stop thinking about this book. ( )
  abookishcorner | Mar 4, 2014 |
Not gonna lie, I totally read this because of the awesome cover, but the inside was just as great. ( )
  earthforms | Feb 2, 2014 |
Very well done, but I didn't really like it. Book group found a lot to talk about. ( )
  ReneeGKC | Jan 30, 2014 |
From The Book Wheel:

Lately, I’ve been finding myself reading more books about the dark side of human nature and when I heard about We Have Always Lived in the Castle on the Books on the Nightstand podcast, I knew I would buy it. Rather than try to explain Shirley Jackson’s place in the literary world, I’ll quote the introduction of the book, instead:

"While celebrated by reviewers throughout her career, she wasn’t welcomed into any canon or school; she’s been no major critic’s fetish. Sterling in her craft, Jackson is prized by the writers who read her, yet it would be self-congratulatory to claim her as a writer’s writer. Rather, Shirley Jackson has thrived, at publication and since, as a reader’s writer."
For the full review, click here. ( )
  thebookwheel | Dec 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 137 (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
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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-cap 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!
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

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:42 -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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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141191457, 0141194995

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