We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

4.0 62
by Shirley Jackson

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Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their

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Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

Library Journal
These six very different titles are the latest crop of Penguin's redesigned "Classics Deluxe Editions" Each volume features kick-ass covers drawn by some of today's top graphic artists, including Frank Miller, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Thomas Ott, Chester Brown, and Tomer Hanuka, with introductions by the likes of Jonathan Lethem and Doris Lessing. Note that the de Sade cover features some nudity and the Lawrence graphics include comics using the F-word and depicting sex acts, so proceed with caution (you'll laugh, but some of your patrons may not). Nonetheless, all beauties. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
Since the mysterious death of four family members, the superstitious Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood, her ailing uncle Julian, and agoraphobic sister Constance have lived in a bizarre but contented state of isolation. But when cousin Charles arrives in search of the Blackwood fortune, a terrible family secret is revealed. Bernadette Dunne's reading is flawlessly paced and suspenseful. The voices she provides the cast of characters are spot on: precocious Merricat is haunted and increasingly desperate; Constance is doting but detached; Uncle Julian is both pleasantly dotty and utterly unnerving; and Charles is the conniving villain listeners will love to hate. A treat for fans of mystery and suspense. (June)

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 7.73(h) x 0.42(d)
980L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Table of Contents



Title Page

Copyright Page




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10


SHIRLEY JACKSON was born in San Francisco in 1916. She first received wide critical acclaim for her short story “The Lottery,” which was published in 1949. Her novels—which include The Sundial, The Bird’s Nest, Hangsaman, The Road through the Wall, and The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin), in addition to We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin)—are characterized by her use of realistic settings for tales that often involve elements of horror and the occult. Raising Demons and Life among the Savages (Penguin) are her two works of nonfiction. She died in 1965. Come Along With Me (Penguin) is a collection of stories, lectures, and part of the novel she was working on when she died in 1965.


JONATHAN LETHEM is the author of Motherless Brooklyn, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, as well as the novels The Fortress of Solitude; Gun, with Occasional Music; As She Climbed Across the Table; Girl in Landscape ; and Amnesia Moon. He has also published stories (Men and Cartoons) and essays (The Disappointment Artist).

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“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

Meet the Author

Shirley Jackson (1919–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote many stories as well as six novels and two works of nonfiction.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DON'T................POST....................SPOILERS!!!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHAT IS WRONG WITH SOME PEOPLE??!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a voracious reader, and was never able to choose a single 'favorite' book until I read 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle.' I was immediately captivated by the ethereal narrative of the haunted and haunting Mary Katherine Blackwood, and the eccentricities of Constance and Uncle Julian add depth, humour, and sorrow to the book. Mary Katherine's perspective makes Cousin Charles a thoroughly despicable and intrusive presence, and it is enjoyable to speculate on how she might have dealt with him had circumstances not thankfully driven him away. 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' is a bewitching novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
jackson skillfully manipulates the readers by bringing them into the mindset of merricat, making them realize everything isn't always black and white. a truly startling voyag einto a disturbed mind that leaves no reader unaffected.
Moira Rose More than 1 year ago
Jackson naturally imbues seemingly normal events with a pervasive terror that makes it impossible to put her book down until you've fit all the pieces together to view the rich and horrible story her words paint.
hannah1028 More than 1 year ago
As are all stories by Shirley Jackson, this book is one that has a very unique twist in the plot. This is certainly a book that will keep you wanting to know what happens next. It is also a story that will keep you thinking. Clues and omens are very significant in this piece of literature. These omens intrigue the reader at first and then result in an "Ah Ha!" moment later on in the story. Also, there are many opportunities to explore different "what ifs" and form your own opinion on certain backgrounds. Although maybe not a book for the permanent library, it is a quick read that I would recommend reading once.
ILOVEREADINGDK More than 1 year ago
I love Shirley Jackson's writing style. I read The Lottery years ago and came across it again on the internet. After re-reading the story, I thought it would be interesting to read something else by Ms.Jackson. She did not disappoint. Although I suspected the identity of the true murderer, I love the way she develped the characters and the storyline. I passed this along to a friend who had never heard of Ms.Jackson~ she really emjoyed the story too. Quite an unconventional ending.
BOD More than 1 year ago
I liked this - kind of weird in places, but it was a good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I expected and even more, strangely thrilling, eerie and chilling, the story takes twists and turns that had me unable to stop turning the pages, a captive to this unexpected and rather brilliant story....
Guest More than 1 year ago
You pick up the book and it looks like a high school reading list book.' You begin to read it, and your initial thoughts are amplified. But then, the twist. You are looking into the lives of a family which puts the dys in dysfunctional. One person has Alzheimers, another person suffers from Agoraphobia, a third person is an eighteen year old with the mind of an eleven year old, and the last family member has waited to weasel in with intentions of corruption and thievery, and ... one of these individuals is the mass murderer of seven people in their own family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This strange tale was hard to put down. The awkward behavior of the characters questions their sanity. Merricat, though in her twenties, acts and is spoken to like a child. The line, 'I'm going to put death in all their food and watch them die.....the way I did before,' was frightful and insane, yet readers cannot help love the main characters and feel sorry for their positon in society.
Anonymous 24 days ago
I was a bit let down. I was discussing the book with someone, and they told me that it would get better. I thought it was good, but i expected more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it "!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hardecanute More than 1 year ago
I like how things are revealed gradually throughout the story.  They are all a bit crazy, but is one of them dangerous?  The ending could have been much more satisfying, but I don't want to spoil anything.  When you read it you will see a more obvious ending that would have had much more impact.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plantaganets, and poltergeists, what more does a person need?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A nice quick story, great plot twist, and just long enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is filled with funny moments that will have you gasping for air. I really enjoyed this authors characters. The characters are well explained and have unique backgrounds and all have their own personality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
Captivating - Great intro to full-length Jackson Lately, I’ve found myself reading more books about the dark side of human nature and when I heard about We Have Always Lived in the Castle on the Books on the Nightstand podcast, I knew I would buy it. Rather than try to explain Shirley Jackson’s place in the literary world, I’ll quote the introduction of the book, instead: "While celebrated by reviewers throughout her career, she wasn’t welcomed into any canon or school; she’s been no major critic’s fetish. Sterling in her craft, Jackson is prized by the writers who read her, yet it would be self-congratulatory to claim her as a writer’s writer. Rather, Shirley Jackson has thrived, at publication and since, as a reader’s writer." As for the book, I was smitten. We Have Always Lived in the Castle  is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold and dreary day. Narrated by an 18-year old nicknamed Merricat, the book is about two sisters who live with their uncle in a large house on the edge of a small town. They cling to their routines, with each day given a different task, and their very existence relies on keeping things normal (groceries on Tuesday and Friday; checking the fence on Wednesdays; doctor visits on Saturdays). But things aren’t normal, because several years before Merricat’s sister, Constance, was charged and acquitted of murdering her family. In fact, the only remaining survivors of the ordeal are Merricat and their elderly Uncle Julian. At first, I thought this was going to be a whodunnit story, but it is far from it. Instead, the book is about the sisters’ daily lives and nonchalant attitude about what happened. They go about their business as if your whole family being poisoned is commonplace. Cast out by the townsfolk, the sisters learned to cope by developing an almost a crazed obsession with keeping their routines. Constance never leaves the house and Merricat only ventures into town for groceries, enduring the stares and gossip. They are perfectly happy living their lives until a long-lost cousin named Charles shows up and wants to “help out.”  But it’s clear from the beginning that there is something a bit off with Charles. He’s a little too interested in where their money is being spent and disapproves of their hermit tendencies. Not long after Charles’ arrival, the sisters’ contented lives are thrown into disarray with deadly consequences. What I loved about this book is the authenticity of the characters. Merricat, at 18, is a child at heart. Whether this is because she’s mentally delayed or is a result of not having any responsibilities, I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the latter. She’s also OCD. Not only does Merricat bury and nail talismans around the property in order to protect the family, she treats each walk to the grocery store as a puzzle that needs to be completed in as few steps as possible. Constance, for her part, is the pinnacle of propriety: always polite and always willing to take in family. Charles, however, is just plain evil. He’s not evil in the crazed-murderer sense, but evil in that every single action he takes is calculated and self-serving. He is the very definition of a sociopath: charming, good looking, and selfish. Lastly, there’s Uncle Julian, who is slowly losing his memory and just wants to document the “last night” that everyone was alive. This is a must-read book. Not only is Shirley Jackson a literary icon in her own right, but the book is fantastic. Let me repeat that. The book is fantastic. I also highly recommend reading the introduction. I don’t usually do this, but because I had never read a full-length Jackson novel I did. Knowing that Jackson was raised to value propriety above all else and was excluded from her own town after writing The Lottery adds a dimension to the book that only enhances its value. I hope you pick up a copy and love it as much as I did, and thanks Books on the Nightstand for the recommendation! Oh, and there are rumors that this might be a movie. One can certainly hope. If only Billy Zane were 20 years younger. He’d make the perfect Charles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RichardSutton More than 1 year ago
You can't separate Shirley Jackson's life from the words in this amazing small novel of small town gossip and hidden secrets. The irony is chilling as much as the writing, which is among the best of the genre. It's an amazing piece of work. It is so incredibly visual, I think it would make a phenomenal film if handled properly. At the end, the crime of a capricious child seems far less than the crimes of a willful community. It has also so invaded our cultural lives, that the simple question, "Would you like a cup of tea?" has taken on many sinister overtones, thanks to author Jackson. In the day, she was shunned by the Bennington, VT community for being a woman who wrote about occult subjects. Now, she would feel right at home in the alternate community Bennington has become and in that way, she was a vanguard of change to come as well as a more psychological perspective in writing horror. This should be a must-read for everyone, especially those who live or come from small, insular towns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing and creepy definitely makes my top 20 :)