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We Have Always Lived in the Castle Paperback – June 5, 1984
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This is a complex novel. It is not for everyone. It is a difficult read, because if you aren't into the book, then you won't understand what's going on. It reminds me of J.D. Salinger's. His books, especially if you've read his short stories, are to be puzzled over, yet never completely understood.
The story is about Merricat and Constance, two sisters who live isolated on the edge of town at Blackwood Manor. They seldom venture out of their home, and when they do are subjected to abuse at the hands of the villagers, who particularly enjoy throwing rocks at Merricat and calling her names. Readers come onto the scene of the story years after a poisoning during supper at Blackwood Manor, which killed most of the family. For years Merricat, their uncle, and Merricat's older sister Constance have lived in solitude until Charles, a distant cousin, comes calling. He plays upon Constance's desire for a normal life, telling her how unnatural her life is at Blackwood Manor, while at the same time displaying to the reader a strong interest in the family fortune.Read more ›
In brief, Merrikat, as she prefers to be called, begins narrating this story in this way:
"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, and 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 phallaides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead."
From the opening paragraph, I thought something is very strange about Merricat. She is eighteen and acts like a child. She is extremely superstitious, believing in signs and burying items in the ground to secure the property. She is also very protective of her sister. She lives with her sister and Uncle Julius, who on the surface appears to have some sort of dementia. The three of them live in a secluded mansion, and never leave the house, except for Merricat who ventures into town for necessities about twice a week. It is clear that the townspeople fear and dislike the remaining family members. The Blackwoods avoid the neighbors, preferring the security of seclusion. They even avoid the few who are friendly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was terrible. So terrible that after 100 pages I gave up on it since it wasn't going anywhere. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Mittenz
Like many people my only experience with Shirley Jackson was having read 'The Lottery' in middle school. She caught my eye recently (is there a new biography of her, maybe? Read morePublished 11 days ago by Avid Reader
I should be clear that I've never read Shirley Jackson and didn't know what to expect. Also, be warned that this version (for Kindle) contains an introduction that has a huge... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Jennifer L. C.
It was a super interesting idea, the backstory on how those creepy neighborhood family houses come into being. You don't hear about how it happens just stories about it. Read morePublished 18 days ago by ZephiesGirl
Absolutely enjoyed every moment of this story! Keeps you on your toes.Published 1 month ago by Rachel Hughes
There's no violence or anything, just a narrative from a young woman whose mind works differently than most folks, and sometimes not in a fun way.Published 1 month ago by menotoman