We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Orange Collection)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle: (Penguin Orange Collection)

by Shirley Jackson


$15.30 $17.00 Save 10% Current price is $15.3, Original price is $17. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, June 27


Part of the Penguin Orange Collection, a limited-run series of twelve influential and beloved American classics in a bold series design offering a modern take on the iconic Penguin paperback

Winner of the 2016 AIGA + Design Observer 50 Books | 50 Covers competition
For the seventieth anniversary of Penguin Classics, the Penguin Orange Collection celebrates the heritage of Penguin’s iconic book design with twelve influential American literary classics representing the breadth and diversity of the Penguin Classics library. These collectible editions are dressed in the iconic orange and white tri-band cover design, first created in 1935, while french flaps, high-quality paper, and striking cover illustrations provide the cutting-edge design treatment that is the signature of Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions today.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is perhaps the crowning achievement of Shirley Jackson’s brilliant career: 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143129547
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/18/2016
Series: Penguin Orange Collection Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 135,334
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Shirley Jackson (1916–1965) received wide critical acclaim for her short story “The Lottery,” which was first published in the New Yorker in 1948. Her works available from Penguin Classics include We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Haunting of Hill House, Come Along with Me, Hangsaman, The Bird’s Nest, and The Sundial, as well as Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons available from Penguin Books.

Read an Excerpt

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).


Excerpted from "We Have Always Lived in the Castle"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Shirley Jackson.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

We Have Always Lived in the Castle 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 134 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have no idea what I just read, but I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it.
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 4 months ago
Shirley Jackson’s best novel - arguably a masterpiece!
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love reading books that are somewhat ¿off¿ in tone, and this book was no exception. This novel, first published in 1962, was recommended to me as a quick read by two LibraryThing members (_Zoe_ and richarderus). The story begins with eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine Blackwood (also known as Merricat) returning to her large and lovely home after a shopping trip to the nearby village. She seems very paranoid around the townsfolk, but, before the first chapter is finished, our curiosity is aroused as to why. We go on to learn that Merricat lives with an older sister and an ailing Uncle Julian because both of her parents are dead. As the story progresses, we learn more details about the deaths of Merricat¿s parents as well as the concurrent death of Uncle Julian¿s wife Dorothy. The odd remaining family members live together fairly well secluded until cousin Charles Blackwood arrives and precipitates a turbulent change to their precarious living situation. Disliked intensely by Merricat, Charles becomes the target of her hexes in an effort to drive him from their house.I loved this book. It was a short, but utterly compelling, read in all of its gothic finery. I found its prose very lyrical as themes repeated in a kind of a rhythmic beat.Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?Oh no, said Merricat, you¿ll poison me.Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!I understand this novel¿s becoming a cult classic. As a result, I very much look forward to reading other writing by Shirley Jackson.
DonnerLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is the odd, but enthralling, story of two sisters living with their uncle after the rest of their family is poisoned at dinner. The story is narrated by Mary Katherine Blackwood, the younger of the sisters. She is the only one of the family to venture into the village where she must endure the taunts of the townspeople. Things change drastically for Mary Katherine when cousin Charles comes for a visit and exerts his influence over Constance, the older sister.I don't always read the introductions to books but in this case I'm very glad that I did. Knowing that Shirley Jackson is the author of the short story "The Lottery" gave me a little better idea of what to expect from this story. I really knew nothing about it when it was chosen as the December selection by the Reading with Tequila Book Club on Goodreads. While the author's name clearly didn't stick with me, I do remember reading "The Lottery" in high school and the impact the story had on me. If you haven't read this short story, I highly recommend it!I'm honestly not quite sure what to say about We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The story, as Mary Katherine tells it, drew me in completely even though it seems that very little actually happens. I do not think the story would have been nearly as interesting if another of the characters had told it. Being in Mary Katherine's head and seeing how she thinks about her situation is exactly what makes the story so compelling. The other characters seem a bit flat but I think that is because we only see them as Mary Katherine sees them and she is quite wrapped up in her own vision of the world.As far as what actually happens in the book, it isn't much. While there are a few key events, the girls' situation at the end of the story is very similar to the beginning. Their dependence on each other has only increased along with their self-imposed isolation. The strength of We Have Always Lived in the Castle is in the characters and the writing rather than the plot. Had it been written in another style or by another author, I do not think it would be nearly as successful in capturing the reader.
lynneinfla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My book club read this book for our October read. It was supposed to be scary - for Halloween. I didn't find it scary. I actually didn't like it very well at all. It seemed sort of like Nancy Drew does weird.
luckycloud on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nuanced and haunting.
thenightbookmobile on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea? Oh no, said Merricat, you¿ll poison me.¿We Have Always Lived in the Castle is my first book by Shirley Jackson and I will most certainly be picking up The Haunting of Hill House next. The story wasn¿t quite what I was expecting. From the very first, you can tell the narrator is unreliable, and I figured out the ¿twist¿ early on, but perhaps I was meant to? I didn¿t think it was all that subtle. Reading pages that delve into the unstable mind of a certain character, experiencing things from their perspective, definitely gives the right feel to this Gothic story.I was expecting a bit more from the end, some further exploration of what led to the murder of the family by arsenic, and how the day in question played out. We are left mostly with a few sentences between Merricat and Constance, and Uncle Julian¿s rants about that day; which makes it a bit more chilling somehow, but leaves the reader wanting more from the story. Despite the few flaws I found in this book, it is not hard to see why this book continues to haunt readers almost fifty years after its initial publication.
lahochstetler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a delightfully creepy story, in which Jackson reminds us that the most frightening tales need not rely on graphic violence, spilling blood, or similar. This is the story of Merricat Blackwood, who lives in the family home with her sister and uncle. The rest of the family is dead, having been poisoned at dinner years ago. The Blackwoods have become pariahs in town; Merricat is the only one who ventures out beyond the old, Gothic manse they call home. How the family came to be poisoned, and how the sisters have come to exist on the fringes of society are revealed as the book develops. This book is pure weird, psychological suspense. I loved it for that very reason, and stayed up half the night so that I could read this in one sitting. I was shocked to discover that Merricat is supposed to be eighteen. She behaves more like a stunted child than an adult. As unique as the characters are, it's the house that remains seared in my memory. When I think of this book, I think of the house, the castle, such as it is. The castle is a character in this book. It has a life, presence, and personality of its own. I would definitely recommend this book, especially as a classic for those who generally don't care for classics.
EBT1002 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This delightful short novel explores madness, persecution, and (sort of) redemption. Set in a small town in New England, the novel almost never leaves the house in which Constance and Mary Katherine (Merricat, our narrator) live with their Uncle Julian and the ever-present and ever-watching cat, Jonas. The introduction to my edition, written by Jonathan Lethem, is worth reading after completing the novel. He describes the three living in the "...grand house at the town's periphery, rehearsing past trauma and fending off change and self-knowledge." I wasn't sure what this meant when I first read the introduction, but after reading Shirley Jackson's work, this description resonated beautifully.When Cousin Charles comes to visit, the group of three (four? -- should one include the cat?) are no longer able to fend off change. Oh, but they do manage to fend off self-knowledge, in a most dramatic and haunting manner. I'm not even going to try to capture the multiple layers of this novel. I highly recommend it and am glad to have it on my shelf as a keeper.
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why haven¿t I ever read anything by Shirley Jackson before?? I don¿t know but that will be remedied very quickly! This is a great book! It has the feel of a ghost story because these two sisters are like living ghosts and actually there were times in this that I wasn¿t sure if they weren¿t ghosts. (And honestly still not sure after finishing it)This is a short book but packs a great punch, even though one of these sisters did something horrible you love them anyway with all their quirks and strange ways. Gosh this is a hard review to write because I don¿t want to give anything away but I want you to know I loved this book and you should read it too!I highly recommend this book on audio Bernadette Dunne was a great narrator and really brings Merricat & Constance to life.I guess all I can say is read this book what are you waiting for??5 stars
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance." So begins the short novel the has become one of my new favorite October reads. The Blackwood sisters live with their crazy uncle on the outskirts of a small town. They're social pariahs, cast out of polite society, though at the beginning we don't know why. It has a bit of a Grey Gardens feel to it, but with more of the tragedy and less of the humor. This story unravels so beautifully, giving you just enough new information with each page. Jackson has such a flair for maintaining suspense. If you haven't already read her short story "The Lottery," go do so immediately. Then you'll understand what I'm talking about when I say she can walk the line between disturbing and thought-provoking, while at the same time giving you some serious chills. The creepy factor is high. The ending in incredibly satisfying. The writing is fantastic. I can ask for nothing more from a gothic story.
vivycakes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Creepy, ominous, and a bit sad. Mary Katherine "Merricat" & Constance Blackwood are agoraphobic sisters who have been happy with their secluded life in their large home, isolated from the village. They live with Merricat's cat Jonas and their uncle Julian, who is permanently ill from ingesting arsenic-laced sugar which killed the rest of the wealthy Blackwood family 6 years prior. (Constance did not have any of the sugar & Merricat had been sent to bed without dinner as punishment). Merricat is slightly less of a shut-in than Constance, going into the village every week to buy groceries and borrow books from the library. She is a very creepy and strange character, protective of her older sister, superstitious, and harboring an incredible deal of hatred toward the villagers. The villagers aren't exactly well-meaning, either - almost all of them regard the Blackwood sisters with intense animosity, since they believe Constance poisoned her family and got away with it. Merricat starts sensing that the Blackwoods' peaceful lives is about to be disrupted by some unwelcome change, which she tries to prevent by means of sympathetic magic. A short, strange but powerful story that explores family relationships, mental illness, persecution, class relations, and disturbing sides to everyday people.
mdtwilighter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why this book is such a classic. Everyone in it was absolutely crazy. I didn't understand them at all. The plot made no sense.
Patrick311 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, yep. It continued to be creepy. But also very good. It's a day's read, and totally worth it. One of the best "mood" books I've read in a while.
em0451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The more I think about this book, the more I like it. The voice of the main character, Mary Katherine, is great. It is just brilliantly written. She is entertaining and endearing and strange and psychotic and sometimes just plain evil all at the same time.This is a fairly simple story with not much of a plot and no big twists. Well, there is one twist towards the end, but it is so glaringly obvious from the first page, I don't believe it was intended to be a big twist. The horror and creepiness of the novel is very understated. I didn't find it scary in the traditional sense, but there is definitely something unsettling about it.I was a little disappointed that so many plot points were left unexplained at the end. I wanted to know more about what happened and the motivations of the characters. But the more I think about it, I think these things were left unexplained by design. It adds to both the intrigue and the creepiness of the book to leave some of those things up to the reader's imagination.Read this book! It's a good one! I'm eager to read more of Shirley Jackson's work after this.