We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

4.0 66
by Shirley Jackson, Jonathan Lethem, Thomas Ott

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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


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.

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

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Series
Edition description:
Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 8.39(h) x 0.53(d)
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).

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.

Jonathan Lethem is the author of numerous acclaimed novels, including Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 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 9 days ago
Chancie 11 months ago
Strangely addicting and entertaining. There aren't any huge twists or shocks, but it's a good read.
Arevik More than 1 year ago
It was a great book.
navidad_thelamour More than 1 year ago
“The least Charles could have done,” Constance said, considering seriously, “was shoot himself through the head in the driveway.” Have you ever tiptoed down a hall in a dark house late at night, not sure if you really heard that bump in the night? That is what reading this novel was like, in all of the best ways possible. Shirley Jackson is a renowned master at the macabre, the unnerving, the Gothic genre, and this work puts her talents on full display—in HD. Most have read The Lottery, whether forced by the classically inclined high school English teacher or for the pure love of the unusual, and here you will find the same masterful foreshadowing, biting eeriness and haunting cruelties found in a small-town community. As my Grandma used to say, “You can always count on those ole’ townies to hide the most secrets, put on the most airs and turn on ya the quickest,” and Jackson, once again, highlighted those small-town characteristics in a manner that left hairs raised on the arms and resonance echoing at the finish of each chapter. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a novel about two young adult sisters, Mary Katherine and Constance, who have essentially become lepers in their small town after an incident at their family dinner table six years before that left half of their family poisoned to death, one sister on trial for murder and the other in an orphanage. The women go about their lives, hardly ever even leaving their property and being openly hated by the townspeople, kept company by their ailing, eccentric uncle who loves to talk about “what happened” and their loyal cat, until one day a cousin comes a knocking and their lives are forever changed. It slowly becomes apparent that Merricat (Mary Katherine) is not 100% mentally stable, as she believes she has voodoo-like magical powers to protect herself, her family and her home, she has fantasies about how her dead family members should have treated her before they died, and she harbors obviously sadistic and murderous feelings towards the townspeople who tease and abuse them. “I would have liked to come into the grocery store some morning and see them all, even the Elberts and the children, lying there crying with the pain and dying. I would then help myself to groceries, I thought, stepping over their bodies, taking whatever I fancied from the shelves, and go home, with perhaps a kick for Mrs. Donell while she lay there.” This story had an aspect of urban legend to it, the makings of it and the effect that it has on those who hear it, who believe it. Jackson wove the tale so beautifully that I didn’t even realize how engrossed in their lives—a sign of truly good writing—I’d become until the cousin started changing the sisters’ routine and poking his nose around in that way that is uncomfortable for readers invested in the protagonists, in that way that makes your heart rate quicken just a touch. This story was a peep behind closed doors, both literally and figuratively. It was a look inside the protective bubble of recluse-ness, while simultaneously being an exploration of man’s nature to fear and hate what we do not, ourselves, understand. It was also social commentary in that delicious way that only Southern Gothicism can offer (though this novel has no clear mention of place, it is widely believed to have been set in Vermont, making it... See the full review and others at The Navi Review (www.thenavireview.com) and follow the blog on Twitter @thenavireview
Anonymous More than 1 year 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