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We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by [Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ott, Jonathan Lethem]
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 3,337 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A marvelous elucidation of life…a story full of craft and full of mystery” —The New York Times Book Review

“A witch’s brew of eerie power and startling novelty” —The New York Times

“I was thrilled by the genuine but meaningful strangeness of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” —George Saunders

“Jackson’s novel is so wonderfully creepy that students usually feel subversive just for reading it. Add to that one of the most brilliantly realized unreliable narrators in fiction and the book becomes irresistible.” —Marlon James

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN : B004SS1MH0
  • Publisher : Penguin Classics; Deluxe edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Publication date : October 31, 2006
  • Language : English
  • File size : 2598 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 162 pages
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 3,337 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
3,337 global ratings
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Louise Marley
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle psychological suspense
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 7, 2016
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4.0 out of 5 stars Does ostracism hurt?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 20, 2017
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4.0 out of 5 stars Writing Style That Kept Me Reading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 8, 2019
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Char Louise
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange but intriguing short novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 24, 2016
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D Frances
5.0 out of 5 stars Merricat would you like a cup of tea?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2019
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