Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson



"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 been 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 much praise for this little book. Could it possibly live up to expectations? Of course it could. And I knew it would from that wonderful opening paragraph.

Merricat (well how would you abbreviate Mary Katherine ?!) is a quite wonderful narrator - engaging, unreliable and utterly unique. And her tale is quite extraordinary.

But I'm not going to say too much about that tale. Much has been written already. And if you haven't read the book you really should. And you will enjoy it more for knowing little beforehand.

Merricat lives in the family home with Constance, her elder sister and Julian, her elderly uncle. The rest of the family has died.

How?

Merricat is the only member of the family who ever goes to town - to do necessary shopping. She is regularly jostled and jeered.

Why?

The arrival of a visitor prompts a series of events and revelations.

What?

The answering of those questions is intriguing and compelling and will take you into a very strange and different world. A world were every detail, every charater, ever relationship is just perfectly executed.

The main revelation is guessable, but that really doesn't matter. It just throws up more questions.

I started intigued and finished unsettled.

Praise more than justified, and expectations more than met.

3 comments:

Elise said...

I haven't read this but feel quite compelled to!! Especially given the beautiful cover :)

M. said...

"I started intrigued and finished unsettled."

Thank you for this line. It's an excellent description of Shirley Jackson's work in general.

writeidea said...

"I started intrigued and finished unsettled"--I've never heard of this book but your comment is enough for me to add it to my to read list.