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We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin Modern Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Oct 2009


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141191457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141191454
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

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)

About the Author

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.

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 3 Nov. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Even the start of We Have Always Lived in the Castle is quite a chilling one told by the youngest daughter of the Blackwood family Merricat (from Mary Katherine) as she tells us that in a crumbling old building, we presume a castle, surrounded by woodland live her, her sister and her aging Uncle Julian (who seems to have Alzheimer's and even believes Merricat is dead) as outcasts from the nearby village. In fact in the opening chapters we see how the village treat her like some kind of leper, they will chide and tease her but they won't come near her for fear of her family name and past.

I won't give too much away about the book suffice to say there is a great mystery around her families death and one that as you read along you gain more snippets into until you find out one shocking twist which did actually make me let out a small gasp. The sinister tone of the book is underlying for most of the book and in some ways becomes much darker on the arrival of their cousin Charles who Merricat takes and instant dislike to before things come to a rather dark and dramatic head. A haunting novel that build slowly and yet will stay with you long after you finish it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE on 10 Oct. 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Constance, her teenage sister Merrycat, and their Uncle Julian (an unforgettable character) live like hermits in an old New England house, shunned by their small town neighbours.Constance was acquited of poisoning her parents, brother and aunt and she will not leave the house and its grounds. Then, one day, cousin Charles arrives, precipitating terrible events.This is a gripping classic of American gothic horror, beautifully written and psychologically acute. This new edition has a very illuminating afterword by Joyce Carol Oates.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BristolVoyage on 15 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is one of those rare gems that seems to transport you to another world effortlessly. Almost as soon as I began to read it I found myself walking home with Merricat, the eyes of the hateful town upon her. I have seldom been so absorbed by a book. Especially one which does not appear to be popular although the reason for this escapes me entirely.

I am always loathe to mention too much detail in a story when reviewing it for obvious reasons however I would like to include some in this review in order to do the book justice.

At the beginning of the book we meet Mary Katherine Blackwood (known by her family as Merricat) a strange, dark, daydreaming, 18 year old girl who lives with the remaining members of her family in an old house on the outskirts of town. From the outset of the book it is obvious the townsfolk hate the Blackwood family but it is not fully explained why. Apart from Merricat no-one else from the family ever ventures outside.

Six years before the beginning of the book most of Merricat's family were murdered and the culprit was never brought to justice. The murders happened in the same house they live in now which only adds to the intriguing and unsettling nature of the story. Although the murders are not exactly central to the story itself they are always there in the back of your mind...could one of the survivors have been the killer? It's a powerful question that keeps you turning the pages.

The four central characters are wonderfully written out although not always likeable. The character of Charles, the unwelcome cousin, is delightfully repulsive and devious. No-one in the family likes him except for Constance who seems unable to think badly of him, at least initially.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a satisfyingly macabre and sinister book. The family that live in the castle are supposedly a murderous bunch, and are definitely not your average neighbours. Mary Katherine Blackwood lives in an isolated house with her sister and their Uncle. The rest of their family died after being fed sugar laced with arsenic. It's Mary Katherine who tells their tale and the reader will soon be entranced by what she has to say, particularly in the events that follow the unwelcome stay of a cousin. A fantastic gothic read, full of humour and a little sadness too. I'll definitely be reading more by this author.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sarah A. Brown VINE VOICE on 6 Jun. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The wonderfully arresting first paragraph gripped me straight away. The novel is intensely controlled, perfectly, though sparely, written, and somehow - like its narrator - not quite sane. It draws the reader irresistibly into the world of a very unusual girl, and the rest of her damaged family. The narrating voice is utterly strange and memorable.

In her interesting afterword to the Penguin edition Joyce Carol Oates discusses the association between the central character, `Merricat', and witchcraft. I interpreted the narrator's intensely superstitious attitude, her obsessive use of `magic' tokens and rituals rather differently, as the reflection of an obsessive and compulsive personality who treats life like a board game where only she knows the rules.

There is much that is sly and unexpected in the novel. Despite the ghastly tragedy which lies behind the family, there is something celebratory about the way the life of this very strange household is depicted, its meals, its gracious surroundings. Normal people begin to seem like irritating intruders to us as well as to the characters.

Although I responded to `We Have Always Lived in the Castle' rather less emotionally than some of the other reviewers, I found it immensely powerful, and thought it was even better than `The Haunting of Hill House'.
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