27 November, 2014

We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson [Emma. Birkenhead Library]

Merricat Blackwood is straight-away a strange and tortured girl. Do you feel sorry for her? I did, at first, but as this book went on, my sympathy waned. Merricat lives with her older sister Constance (who does everything for her, just about) and her Uncle Julian. She says she is 18 years old, and she hates everyone else.

All of their family are dead, poisoned six years earlier at dinner, by person(s) and for reasons unknown. Constance was charged and acquitted of the murders, and Uncle Julian survived. Merricat, sent to bed that fateful night, escaped harm. The three now live together in a huge and creepy gracious home, feared and ridiculed by people in the nearby village. They reluctantly accept the few visitors who come to them, but on the whole deal with the world only when absolutely necessary. Until one day, moon-faced cousin Charles, seeking to steal the family fortune, forces his company into their midst. This precipitates stranger and stranger behaviour from Merricat and Uncle Julian - neither who like Charles one iota. Something has to give in these circumstances.

This is such an atmospheric story, so slowly teased out, with Merricat as narrator. Her reliability as she recounts events and her own feelings is certain, although her reasoning is often unclear. She creates a feeling of mystery and tension which you will be compelled to follow as far as you can.
Published first in 1962, this is a classic.

Title: We have always lived in the castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published: Originally 1962.  New edition:  Penguin Books, New York , 2006.
ISBN: 9780141191454

No comments:

Post a Comment

Kia ora! Please feel free to leave your comments or suggestions below.