We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Book - 1962
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Shirley Jackson's beloved gothic tale of a peculiar girl named Merricat and her family's dark secret

Taking readers 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 a cousin arrives at their estate. This edition features a new introduction by Jonathan Lethem.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Publisher: New York : Viking Press, [1962]
ISBN: 9780143039976
Branch Call Number: JAC
Characteristics: 214 pages ;,21 cm.


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A deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the dramatic struggle that ensues when an unexpected visitor interrupts their unusual way of life. Also available as an eBook, as an eAudiobook and on CD.

List - Working Moms
Capital_City_Press May 03, 2019

The quintessential goth-mom with an eye for the uncanniness of immaculate housekeeping. After reading this, pick up her biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin where we follow Jackson as she composes stories in her head while pushing a pram home from the grocery store. ... Read More »

Also available as ebook, audiobook cd & streaming audiobook

A creepy family in a creepy setting. It's short novel but it has a lasting presence.

From the critics

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AndreaG_KCMO Oct 26, 2020

The psychological drama of Shirley Jackson's work held me spellbound even at the end of my spooky-house-stories streak.

Oct 22, 2020

Creepy and atmospheric and just excellent. Good time of the year to check this one out.

Sep 24, 2020

This book is excellent. However, DO NOT read the Introduction to this book if you've not read the book before. It spoils the entire plot and is utterly unnecessary.

Sep 17, 2020

strange and wonderful book.

Aug 14, 2020

I love Merricat and Jonas and Constance. I want them to be happy forever.

Jun 18, 2020

This is the book where I ask myself "do I really like Shirley Jackson books?" I read the Haunting and thought it was entertaining but a strange ending. I remember the Lottery from high school. We have always lived in the castle is enjoyable for the most part, but the ending really made me think about the unfairness of what ultimately happened to the Blackwoods and how their future is going to look. Not to mention none of the 'bad guys" got their comeuppance for how they wrecked the lives of the sisters. I'm not sure if I'll read any of her other books, if I'm missing any (I read her stories last year and they were disturbing as well, but not really in a good way for me).

May 15, 2020

This is the second Shirley Jackson novel I have read, the first being The Haunting of Hill House. The Haunting of Hill House was creepy and disturbing, while We Have Always Lived in the Castle is more deranged and charming. The narrator is most responsible for these dual feelings, with eighteen year old Merricat Blackwood being equal parts deranged and charming. The main characters, Merricat and Constance Blackwood, are sisters and they live together with their Uncle Julian. Everyone else in the Blackwood family is dead after an unfortunate incident of arsenic in the sugar bowl during a family dinner that killed the rest of the family six years prior to the beginning of the novel. Merricat, Constance, and Uncle Julian all have an unhinged aspect to their personalities as a result of the tragedy and its consequences, and have remained frozen in time with their routines never changing. The stasis that the three remaining Blackwoods live in is disrupted by a family member who was not there six years ago, Cousin Charles. Merricat's increasingly destructive measures to get rid of Charles so they can go back to normal changes Constance's and Merricat's lives forever. While this book is short, it is powerful; it deals with a lot of dark and heavy concepts such as ostracism and psychopathy. I will probably have to read this again to catch things I didn't the first time because of how unreliable Merricat is as a narrator.

Jan 01, 2020

Wonderfully creepy, quick read.

Dec 07, 2019

The complex relationship between the reader and the narrator is what really drives the suspense and tension in this novel. I started the book sympathizing with Merricat (the point-of-view character), if a little off-put by her dark imagination. As I settled deeper into her head and watched the friction with Charles (a newcomer to the house) build, I became actively afraid of her, as if she was the masked killer in a slasher film and I was waiting to see when and how the next victim would be taken. By the end of the book, I think part of me actively hated her for how she was warping the lives of the truly sympathetic characters. And then I hated myself a little for hating her, because she still retains a child-like innocence that feels wrong to condemn.

This isn't a pleasant read, but it's not supposed to be. It's powerful, unsettling, and horrific in all the right ways - the kind of book that I'm thankful to have experienced, but probably won't go back to for a casual read.

Oct 25, 2019

I really enjoyed the strange, isolated nature of the main characters. It seems this particular book has a devoted, cult-like following of people who are inclined to read it over and over!
I think I am now one of them...

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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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