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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)

by Shirley Jackson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,3693621,202 (4.07)755
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.
  1. 161
    Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (teelgee)
  2. 121
    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. 20
    Who was Changed and Who was Dead by Barbara Comyns (laytonwoman3rd)
  5. 20
    The Behaviour of Moths 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. 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.
  7. 10
    Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (alalba)
  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. 22
    The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (lahochstetler)
  10. 23
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
  11. 01
    Goblin by Ever Dundas (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Similar tone (and Dundas credits Jackson in the book's afterword).
  12. 01
    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.
  13. 01
    Heartstones by Ruth Rendell (isabelx)
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» See also 755 mentions

English (354)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (362)
Showing 1-5 of 354 (next | show all)
This rather strange tale starts out somewhat slowly, and never really picks up speed. In trying to set the scene of a macabre family living in an old mansion, it just becomes - dare I say it? - rather boring. In what’s left of the family after the poisoning, you have a somewhat normal though quite reclusive older sister, her disturbed but strangely entertaining younger sister, a physically disabled uncle in declining mental health, and a visiting cousin, intent on stealing the family fortune, if there is one. Don’t expect a lot in the way of plot and character development. And then the story just ends. The one bright part of the story was the kindness shown in the giving of a food basket, to make amends for a grief caused. Maybe I’m missing a deeper meaning in this tale, but I know one thing for sure: if they don’t fix their roof, those sisters are in for a rough winter. Maybe that’s the sequel - The Blackwoods Build a New Abode - and handymen are welcome to help. Just make sure you drink your coffee black and don’t eat the berries. ( )
  Maydacat | Jan 12, 2022 |
One of my all-time favorites; I was long overdue for a re-read. ( )
  maryellencg | Jan 8, 2022 |
I kept thinking I knew what kind of story this was, and then it kept changing on me. It's amazing how one sentence or one hint can completely change how you think of things. ( )
  Monj | Jan 7, 2022 |
What a strange little book. Like with The Haunting of Hill House, I feel I need to reread this book to really appreciate it. I get the theme of ostracism, I saw the pure talent of Jackson's writing craft throughout, but there's still some disconnect between me and her stories, at least the first time around. Merricat's voice was done really well. My favorite scene was after she chose her protective words (that she didn't want to be said) and then the conversation turned to a topic that was dangerously close to using one of those words. That tension was brilliant. ( )
  hissingpotatoes | Dec 28, 2021 |
This book was odd, but also good. The story's narrator is a fascinating character (who I may have found a bit more relatable than is strictly advisable) and other characters are interesting as well. The book is creepy in a subdued kind of way, and has a distinct and chilling atmosphere. A very unique novel that I think I might need to reread someday to digest more fully. ( )
  mutantpudding | Dec 26, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 354 (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 (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jackson, Shirleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bliss, HarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franzén, TorkelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ott, ThomasCover artistsecondary 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. 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.
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English


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.

No library descriptions found.

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.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141191457, 0141194995


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