We Have Always Lived in the Castle
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

4.04 (53,872 ratings by Goodreads)
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Shirley Jackson's masterpiece: the deliciously dark and funny story of Merricat, tomboy teenager, beloved sister - and possible lunatic. 'Her greatest book ... at once whimsical and harrowing, a miniaturist's charmingly detailed fantasy sketched inside a mausoleum ... Through depths and depths and bloodwarm depths we fall, until the surface is only an eerie gleam high above, nearly forgotten; and the deeper we sink, the deeper we want to go' Donna Tartt, author of The GoldfinchLiving in the Blackwood family home with only her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian for company, Merricat just wants to preserve their delicate way of life. But ever since Constance was acquitted of murdering the rest of the family, the world isn't leaving the Blackwoods alone. And when Cousin Charles arrives, armed with overtures of friendship and a desperate need to get into the safe, Merricat must do everything in her power to protect the remaining family. This Penguin edition includes an afterword by the acclaimed novelist Joyce Carol Oates. All Shirley Jackson's other novels, plus The Lottery and Other Stories, are available in Penguin Modern Classics.Shirley Jackson was born in California in 1916. When her short story The Lotterywas first published in The New Yorker in 1948, readers were so horrified they sent her hate mail; it has since become one of the most iconic American stories of all time. Her first novel, The Road Through the Wall, was published in the same year and was followed by five more: Hangsaman, The Bird's Nest, The Sundial,The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, widely seen as her masterpiece. In addition to her dark, brilliant novels, she wrote lightly fictionalized magazine pieces about family life with her four children and her husband, the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman. Shirley Jackson died in her sleep in 1965 at the age of 48.'The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable ... She is a true master' A. M. Homes'A masterpiece of Gothic suspense' Joyce Carol Oates'If you haven't read We Have Always Lived in the Castle ... you have missed out on something marvellous' Neil Gaimanshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 12mm | 140.61g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141191457
  • 9780141191454
  • 2,245

Review quote

Her greatest book ... at once whimsical and harrowing, a miniaturist's charmingly detailed fantasy sketched inside a mausoleum ... Through depths and depths and bloodwarm depths we fall, until the surface is only an eerie gleam high above, nearly forgotten; and the deeper we sink, the deeper we want to go -- Donna Tartt An amazing writer -- Neil Gaiman The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable ... She is a true master -- A. M. Homes A masterpiece of Gothic suspense -- Joyce Carol Oates For me, it is that unique and dreamlike book ... that stands as her masterpiece -- Jonathan Lethem We Have Always Lived in the Castle is Jackson's masterpiece ... Stunning -- Elaine Showalter Manages the ironic miracle of convincing the reader that a house inhabited by a lunatic, a poisoner, and a pyromaniac is a world more rich in sympathy, love and subtlety than the world outside * Time * A witch's brew of eerie power and startling novelty * The New York Times * A marvellous elucidation of life ... a story full of craft and full of mystery * The New York Times Book Review *show more

About Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson was born in California in 1916. When her short story The Lottery was first published in The New Yorker in 1948, readers were so horrified they sent her hate mail; it has since become one of the most iconic American stories of all time. Her first novel, The Road Through the Wall, was published in the same year and was followed by five more: Hangsaman, The Bird's Nest, The Sundial, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, widely seen as her masterpiece. In addition to her dark, brilliant novels, she wrote lightly fictionalized magazine pieces about family life with her four children and her husband, the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman. Shirley Jackson died in her sleep in 1965 at the age of 48.show more

Review Text

Her greatest book ... at once whimsical and harrowing, a miniaturist's charmingly detailed fantasy sketched inside a mausoleum ... Through depths and depths and bloodwarm depths we fall, until the surface is only an eerie gleam high above, nearly forgotten; and the deeper we sink, the deeper we want to go Donna Tarttshow more

Rating details

53,872 ratings
4.04 out of 5 stars
5 36% (19,337)
4 39% (21,235)
3 19% (10,217)
2 4% (2,408)
1 1% (675)

Our customer reviews

This short novel belongs in the same league as J D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird. Yes, it's really that good. Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood introduces herself with what has to be one of the most stylistically perfect paragraphs in American literature. She tells us, amongst other things, that she likes her sister Constance, Richard Plantagenet and the death cap mushroom, and regrets that she was not born a werewolf. Without flagging in interest or style, she continues over succeeding pages to relate the events of five weeks in her life one New England spring, in doing so gradually revealing how it came about that all of her family other than Constance are dead. The villagers ("The people of the village have always hated us.") believe it was Constance who one day put arsenic in the family sugar bowl. Constance was put on trial, but acquitted for lack of evidence. She had taken care to wash the bowl before the police arrived. After the trial, Constance and Merricat establish a life of reclusive domesticity in the family mansion. Notwithstanding taunts from the villagers that Connie may try to poison her, Merricat is happy and fears only that their way of life may be changed. Enter Cousin Charles, who has designs on Constance and the family fortune. Merricat's response exacts a terrible price, yet proves a solution of sorts. In this edition, the afterword by Joyce Carol Oates is interesting and useful , but should definitely be read afterwards, not before, by those who are not already familiar with the story and don't want foreknowledge of how the mystery unfolds.show more
by Andrew Sheppard
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