Thursday, November 19, 2009

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
copyright 1962
Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2006
146 pages

"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 ben 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 my family is dead."

So begins this creepy classics that's recently attracted much attention from book bloggers. My reaction mirrored the other favorable (and beautifully written) reviews, but it was a unique reading experience that really stood out.

I began on October 29 or 30, anticipating an ideal holiday-themed read. On Halloween Day, the wind howled and whipped leaves everywhere as rain pelted the windows. Power flickered on and off all afternoon and finally, around sunset, went out for good. Surrounded by candles, with a book light clipped to the cover, I curled up to finish We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Creepy, indeed... perfect reading for a dark and stormy night!

The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition shown above is gorgeously disquieting too, but have you seen the back cover and flaps?
For an actual review, please visit:
(may I add yours?)


25 comments:

  1. This one *had* been very popular lately! I'm glad you liked it, too. I'll have to indulge eventually.

    Lezlie

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  2. I meant *has* been very popular. I can tell I haven't been drinking my coffee lately. :-)

    Lezlie

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  3. Ms. Jackson seems to have the creepy thing nailed! I have yet to read anything written by her...maybe for next RIP. I just love this cover!

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  4. this is one of my go-to reads. something about jackson's writing works well for me in almost any mood.

    you should really give her short stories a try. The Lottery is in my eyes, one of the few perfect stories.

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  5. I've read The Lottery, and loved it. The cover of this one is very creepy and I want to read it!

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  6. I'v got a copy of this and am planning to read it soon. I'm hoping it will be a little bit creepy!

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  7. That is one of the best covers! And what a perfect environment to read it in. I will have to add this to my Halloween reads for next year.

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  8. JoAnn, I too heard a lot about this book on blogs recently, and now I can't wait to read it. And the cover is just...beautifully creepy!

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  9. I think I'm going to have to give in and get this one - it's hard to resist that cover!

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  10. I feel in love with the cover, and had to buy the book :) Now to read it; your review makes me want to jump in ; thanks Joanne

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  11. Lezlie - I knew what you meant ;-) Have you given up caffeine?

    Sandy - Keep this in mind for next year's RIP challenge.... creepy and well done!

    Saveophelia - The Lottery was amazing, but it's her only story I've read. Will definitely be looking for more!

    Staci - There were a couple different editions at B&N, but I liked this cover so much. It was worth the extra dollar or two!

    Jackie - It's hard for me to separate the book from the unique atmosphere, but I think this would have been creepy even if we'd had power!

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  12. I loved that cover...in fact I just had to buy it. Then I blamed Care...

    http://www.fizzythoughts.com/2008/11/we-have-always-lived-in-the-castle.html

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  13. Book Psmith - I'm pretty sure you'll like this, and I'm already starting my list for next Halloween, too.

    Ivana - It seemed like this book was everywhere a couple weeks ago... perfect Halloween reading!

    Rhapsodyinbooks - Can I really be shallow enough to judge a book by it's cover? I hope not, but this cover sure added to the experience.

    Diane - I though this cover was well worth the extra dollar or two. The other edition on the shelf wasn't anywhere near as nice. Hope you enjoy it, too!

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  14. Softdrink - I *knew* there was another review or two I'd read, but couldn't find. Thanks for the link!

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  15. Glad you liked it too! I have heard good things from everyone who has read this so I am going to be watching out for it on the charity shop shelves from now on!

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  16. The atmospheric setting was ideal to read this and it is doubtful that you will ever be able to separate them in your mind. I love being able to see the back-flaps - very disquieting!

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  17. JoAnn ~ Not given it up, but I was diagnosed with acid reflux last week, so I have to cut waaaaayy back on a lot of fun things like carbonated soda, coffee and spicy food. :-( At least my throat seems to be healing finally, now that we've found out what the problem was!

    Lezlie

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  18. Rachel - Hope you can find it. It's well worth reading - regardless of the cover!

    Paperback reader - This will definitely be one of those books I'll never be able to separate from the reading experience....much like A Fine Balance and the beaches of Captiva Island, Florida (and that is anything but a beach book!)

    Lezlie - Glad your throat is healing. I gave up carbonated soda for that reason, but had to draw the line at coffee ;-)

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  19. Great cover. I agree with you - great book, great experience, but what else can you say about it! Just read it, I guess.

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  20. It sounds so creepy...not sure I can handle it. I do love the cover art, though. That I can appreciate!

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  21. Oooh, creepy book by candlelight - I love it! This is a recent addition to my wish list.

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  22. Oooh. So glad I just got this on a swap. Can't wait until it arrives at my house!

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  23. Tara - You've summed up my feelings, exactly!

    Rebecca - It is creepy, so if that's not your thing, you may not enjoy this much. The cover can definitely be appreciated by everyone though!

    Stacybuckeye - Yes, reading this by candlelight certainly added to the experience. Hope you get to read it, too!

    Beth - I'm glad you've got this one on the way... it's not to be missed!

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  24. Perfect time to read this! I remember I had to rush and find The Lottery after I read this to make sure I had the right Ms Jackson in mind. She's a master at eerie.

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  25. Care - A 'master at eerie' for sure! The Lottery was amazing. I'll try The Haunting of Hill House for the next RIP challenge.

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