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
0143129546
Characteristics: 146 pages ; 20 cm

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w
wetseed
Jul 22, 2018

Fantasticly dark and sad. But truly fantastic!

ArapahoeLauraRose Jul 17, 2018

Delightfully disturbing! Like in her short story "The Lottery" (which many of us read in school), the Gothic mystery/horror in "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" is subtle. At first look, Merricat's thoughts and behaviors, and those of her sister Constance and Uncle Julian, are just a little bit sideways of normal: eccentric, but excusable. I enjoyed the slow reveal of the Blackwood family's dark history, always filtered through Merricat's...unique...perspective. The ending, which can make or break this type of narrative, was excellent. But no spoilers here! Definitely worth the read.

r
Ravenya03
Jun 27, 2018

If you like strange and Gothic stories, then this might be up your alley, from the same author as the psychological ghost story "The Haunting." Merricat Blackwood lives with her sister Constance and Uncle Julian in an old manor house on the edge of a town that shuns them. It soon becomes apparent why: not long ago the rest of the Blackwood family were poisoned at the dinner table. Though Constance was acquitted of the crime, the social stigma remains.

But Merricat is happy with the family's isolation: so when a distant cousin turns up, seeking to make amends with his remaining family members, she makes it her duty to drive him off.

It's a surprisingly short book - more of a novella really, and the first-person narration takes the reader right into Merricat's twisted mind: full of contradictions, secrets and dark humour. The character study is in some ways the centrepiece of the book, though the creepiness of the plot and atmosphere also leaves its mark.

I would recommend reading Joanna Lindsay's "Picnic at Hanging Rock" as a companion piece to "We Have Always Lived in the Castle", as both are similarly short, and very alike in regards to theme, ambiance and the way the story is told through a feminine perspective.

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.

b
Brontina66
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.

s
Spacek76
Apr 26, 2017

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

j
JaimieL95
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.

u
uncommonreader
Jan 15, 2017

A classic of horror fiction from a more innocent time.

dbrl_biblio Dec 22, 2016

excellent read. recommended

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christilini
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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