We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Book - 2016
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"Delving deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, 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 outside forces disrupt their delicate balance of life."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Penguin Books,, 2016
Copyright Date: ©1962
ISBN: 9780143129547
Characteristics: 146 pages ; 20 cm


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OatmealThunder Nov 08, 2017

Got a bit of that southern gothic vibe. Snapshots include two sisters, close and supportive of one another, townfolk leering from behind curtains, and blue moonlight pouring in from a cracked stained glass window.

This book tends to be very psychological. Merricat is an interesting, if unreliable narrator. She protects her sister from the judgement of the outside world. We discover that several years ago, arsenic was found in the sugar bowl, and many members of the Blackwood family died as a result. The only ones who survived were Constance (who was charged and later acquitted of the crime), Merricat, and Uncle Julian whose physical health and mental faculties suffered as a result of the poisoning. When cousin Charles arrives, things really start happening and you begin to realize just how unstable the Blackwood household really is. Disturbing psychological suspense with a creepy setting, this book was fun.

Sep 13, 2017

I found this novel by chance among the library recommendations. I had never heard of Shirley Jackson or her short story "The Lottery." A quick look at the summary convinced me it was worth a try and I am happy that I read it, because I discovered a very interesting author. I am naturalized American and my degree is in British English and German literature, so I am relatively unfamiliar with modern American writers.
The story is quite unusual and I liked the way Jackson kept the interest alive using a very basic vocabulary and a very limited number of characters. It's a mystery, so I will not spoil the surprise for anyone, but I have to say that you quickly figure out who the culprit is because of the clear characterization of the two sisters. You also immediately understand what Charles is after, for the same reason. Perhaps one fault with this novel is that the characters are in a way too 'one-dimensional' - Mary Katherine is always "silly Merricat," Constance is always sweet and cooking, Uncle Julian is always forgetful and monomaniac, and Charles is always greedy. However, this is also a very modern novel, dealing (among the other things) with bullying and the strategies we develop to cope with and survive in a world where we don't fit. I plan on reading also Jackson's other books now. Oh, and there is a movie with Taissa Formiga playing Merricat coming out soon.

Apr 26, 2017

Excellent book. Made me revisit and appreciate Shirley Jackson and her works.

Mar 08, 2017

I love Merricat and she is the first of her kind that I have ever loved. This book is a bundle of insanity but it's a cute insanity.

Jan 15, 2017

A classic of horror fiction from a more innocent time.

dbrl_biblio Dec 22, 2016

excellent read. recommended

Dec 11, 2016

I read this in one sitting its that's good!! This was my first Shirley Jackson novel and I will definitely be reading more. Creepy, gothic setting, great set of characters a short read but so good!

DBRL_IdaF Nov 14, 2016

Shirley Jackson knew how to create perfect stories with not a weak element. That's why her books have endured to be considered classics. She was a master at creating an atmosphere of foreboding, showing the details of everyday life as a thin veneer over things more sinister.

The narrator here is Mary Katherine, an eccentric 18-year-old functioning at a much younger emotional level. She lives a reclusive life with her older sister Constance, whom she adores, and their disabled Uncle Julian, who adamantly reminds everyone that Constance was acquitted of the murders of the rest of the family six years previous.

This books hits on many of Jackson's recurrent themes: the darkness in all of us, mob mentality and the fact that normal is a highly subjective term.

A short, quick read that packs a punch and lingers in your mind.

KAWeist Oct 06, 2016

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. The novel's POV from the character of Merricat reminded me of Emma Donoghue's "Room." As the story goes on though, the child-like innocence of the narrator proves to be the driving force of the suspence. The language was not overly difficult and ins spite of the suspenseful nature, there was no over-use of gore for dramatic effect. My only real criticism is of the character of Constance. I recognize that the story is told from the point of view of Merricat and that we are limited in terms of the motives driving her older sister, yet I can't help but feel a disconnect in some of her actions to the characters around her.

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May 20, 2010

christilini thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

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 our family is dead.


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