I originally downloaded this book because the title caught my eye I love castles along with the cover and the fact that it was written by Shirley Jackson I love her style of writing she is one of the few authors I m prepared to forgive for not always settling for a traditional happy satisfying ending.The story is told by Mary Katherine Blackwood also known as Merricat, sometimes affectionately, but often as an insult by the people who live in the village The Blackwoods are a wealthy family who have lived for generations in a large house surrounded by a large estate As soon as a new Blackwood wife moved in, a place was found for her belongings, and so our house was built up with layers of Blackwood property weighting it, and keeping it steady against the world.Six years ago Merricat s father, mother, aunt and brother all died when arsenic was put into a sugar bowl Merricat s elder sister Constance was arrested for the murders, but acquitted due to lack of evidence Their Uncle Julian was the only other survivor Everyone in the village hates the Blackwoods, although it is unclear whether this is due to their wealth, because they are different or because one of them is believed to be a murderer Merricat refuses to be intimidated and visits the village every Tuesday to buy groceries Constance is agoraphobic and does not like to leave the house Uncle Julian s mind is going and he is confined to a wheelchair.At the start the story reads like a mystery Why do the villagers hate the family so much What did happen six years ago Who was the murderer The answers are dripped in very, very slowly The writing style is deceptively simple and yet the tension curls tighter and tighter It is closer to psychological suspense than horror Is Merricat an unreliable narrator Every word she speaks is the truth but it s the truth as she sees it She casts spells, buries objects or nails them to the trees in the wood Is she a witch or just completely bonkers When their estranged cousin turns up, hoping to divide and conquer, and make off with the family fortune, you just know it won t end well But don t under estimate the Blackwoods They have always lived in the castle and they always will.Recommended if you love claustrophobic psychological suspense in the style of The Turn of the Screw Avoid if you re a fan of fast paced jump shocks and gore. 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 paperbackWinner of theAIGA Design ObserverBooksCovers competition For the seventieth anniversary of Penguin Classics, the Penguin Orange Collection celebrates the heritage of Penguins 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 , 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 CastleTaking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is perhaps the crowning achievement of Shirley Jacksons 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 There is nothing disturbing and scary than a human being that is truly dysfunctional, but with a semblance of being normal, indeed boring to the point of banality We are reeled into the twisted mind of the anti heroine as if against our will, feeling sorry for her yet appalled at the same time But at one point in the book we are confronted by equally horrifying behaviour, a kind of localised mass hysteria, a manifestation of the viciousness with which society can react to otherness Masterfully spun out tale without a conventional plot, though we are compelled to keep on turning that page Am now looking forwards to reading of Jackson s works When I have recovered from this one. A bizarre, creepy, otherworldly novel The narrator, Merricat, is the youngest surviving descendent of an ancient family, most of whom were killed by poisoning several years before the novel is set She now lives with her elder sister Constance and ill uncle Julian in the remains of the Blackwood family home Both sisters appear to have some mental health problems Constance is agoraphobic and doesn t leave the boundaries of the property, and Merricat has OCD tendencies plus as time goes on you realise she also has psychopathic traits Her narration is both innocent and childlike, and disturbing, packed with violent imagery The sisters seem to have internalised the Blackwood family snobbery and disdain for other people, and take this to extremes, shutting themselves away from the world and resenting any intrusion The irony of this is that Merricat herself is responsible for every bad or frightening thing that befalls the household Despite all this, I did feel strangely sympathetic to the sisters attempts to rebuild their home from what they had left, and admired the way they managed to be happy in the face of having so little, even if that happiness came from madness A fairly short novel which is a little repetitive, but psychologically intriguing The Kindle version ends with an analysis of the novel written by Joyce Carol Oates, which was very interesting This is the first book of Shirley Jackson s that I ve read and I d be interested in reading. This story is of 3 members of the Blackwood family their life after the murders of their Father, Mother, Brother their uncle s wife.The 3 remaining Blackwoods live in their house isolated from the village with fences padlocks no trespassing signs.Uncle Julian is by far my favourite character A man of gentrification, wit jolly good humour.His memory varies from day to day, unsure on one day if the murders took place, the next being sure he dreamt them He has written vast notes on the subject when he is well enough, recording everything of that fateful day What everyone had for breakfast, the weather outside, the plates dinner was served from of course the silver sugar bowl which was pickled with arsenic Constance not taking sugar, survives.As the rest of her family tuck into blackberries heavily sprinkled with sugar their fate is sealed Uncle Julian having very little sugar survives but finds himself in the most disagreeable situation of being wheelchair bound not the strong man he used to be.Mary Katherine, Merricat as is her nickname is sent to bed without supper, no dinner for her, no blackberries ultimately no sugar She survives.Merricat s twice weekly walk to the village to get groceries earns her ridicule from the villagers, torment from the children, she escapes into the comfort of her own head, often than not pretending she is on the moon As a now 18 year old her perspective is still very much childlike She treats her shopping trips like a game Do not pass go, take 1 step back has check points when she gets to certain stores.The villagers disliked the Blackwoods, even so now that there are very few remaining The taunts teasing are cruel, the villagers believe Constance who was tried cleared of her familie s murders, for she was the one who did the cooking, killed them got away with it Constance has not left the house or the grounds in the six years since being cleared of murder.In the village there is a sense of ignorance, people of grandeur that have worked her are down trodden by the simple minded, they do not like that they were not cut from the same cloth as the Blackwood s.Merricat likes to bury things Money, talismans, marbles, she nails her father s pocketbook to a tree, she believes this wards off any ill will towards her family, but if these items are moved there is a chance evil can get to them As she passes that very tree the pocketbook now strewn on the floor, it s rusty nail no longer able to hold it in place she knows that evil is coming for them That evil comes in the form of Charles.Cousin Charles, his father the brother of John, Constance Merricat s father They offered no support during the trial severed all family ties However, Arthur is now dead, and Charles, a scoundrel is very keen to get his feet under the table in the Blackwood household.This was a very good story which I read in one sitting, not my favourite of Shirley Jacksons tales but very enjoyable, Uncle Julian is a fantastic character in his speech his highly quotable lines include I think if I had known it was her last breakfast I would have permitted her sausage Referring to his wife I have no jam Would you like me to get you some , No Because I see I have somehow eaten all my toast.Highly Recommend. I didn t really know what to expect but I did know that I enjoyed The Haunting Of Hill House and this was meant to be better.This book is told from the perspective of Mary Katherine Merricat and I found it quiet interesting with it being told this way She is completely unreliable as a narrator, who is telling the story, her account of it, and it kept me guessing throughout I couldn t trust her as a character, I didn t know what to believe and it made it interesting to read as I kept changing my mind on how I thought the storyline and plot was going to go.This writing style was amazing as it did keep me intrigued with this story and did a good job building certain characters You do fall into certain problems when writing from one perspective, especially a strong and unreliable one, and that is you see the character through their eyes and that s how you take them If they hate them, you re going to hate them.I did have questions left after I d finished reading this book which is why I can t give it five stars, but I liked the ending I really liked the ending Maybe every legend has a hint of truth behind it, but also how it spirals out of control. I really enjoyed reading this novel but it was very disturbing and raised a lot of questions I had the wonderful Penguin Modern classics edition with an endnote by Joyce Carol Oates which helped me get my head round the strange, unnerving character of Merricat who seems part witch, part sociopath in the story However, nearly as disturbing as Merricat is the claustrophobic town in which the two sisters live, with the vaguely threatening behaviour of their neighbours which erupts into outright violence towards the end of the tale Then there s the cousin, who s also so transparently out for all he can get and is a nastier piece of work, in some ways, than the actual murderer in the tale No one is truly innocent here with the possible exception of Uncle Julian and Constance who took the rap for the murders in the first place This was my first foray into the work by Shirley Jackson, but I d definitely like to read. How did I miss Shirley Jackson before I mean, I had never even heard of her And I consider myself reasonably well read and an avid reader It s tragic the things that sometimes pass us by.Thankfully, thanks to letting me know what other people who have read a book are also reading, I chanced upon her at last and have since been lapping her up.I won t spoil the book by copying out sentences or telling you bits I hate when people pull out pieces and dissect them, introducing you to parts of the puzzle out of sequence, disempowering them for when you later come across them in place There s enough of that already out there, if you are so inclined.All I will say is that this is a good book, a great book, especially once you get past the first few chapters, which are kind of slow I think knowing and caring about the characters is important for enjoying the novel, and in the beginning there isn t enough knowing for there to be caring and therefore there isn t enough caring for there to be enjoying It slowly grows, your appreciation of the characters, your involvement in the plot, your deep connection to them and it And when it hits, it s strong and deep and searing This book made me many things over its course happy, sad, amused, frustrated, dreamy, murderous, envious, nostalgic And at its close I was regretful also.If you appreciate good prose and beautiful imagery, love detailed description and deep character studies, I m sure you will love it as much as me I wish I could unread it and read it over again, and again Crazy and sinister, indeed, but, filtered through the paranoid and cunning consciousness of Merricat, we see madness made normal Jackson takes elements of classic gothic the big house, isolated women, the stranger from outside and gives them a twisted spin.I didn t find this quite as intriguing or chilling as I expected, too much was transparent from the start, but there are some startling images here, especially the scenes where the villagers bring food like placatory offerings at a shrine.A short but immensely controlled piece of writing. This book was better than I thought I liked the way the characters developed and the story unfolded with some twists along the way I really liked the Merricat character in particular and although strange I felt quite protective about her and sorry for her, perhaps unnecessarily She was such an interesting person and I loved her dark side The ending was very good too Quite a haunting book and one I would recommend.