Thursday, October 30, 2014

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a 1962 novel by Shirley Jackson, her last novel. It was published 2 years before her death from heart failure at age 48. It's hard to call it "horror" and yet I often see it categorized that way. I'd call it Gothic. It focuses on the treatment of those who are "other" in small communities and explores what families do to each other when they do too much for each other.

from the back of the book:
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is Jackson's most subtle work, a studied and compelling rendering of insanity that achieves its effect in part by drawing readers into the strangely routine world of its heroines before revealing the full horror of their existence.
There's not actually much in the way of reviews or analysis online. The narrator is unreliable, and the true tale of what has led up to the present moment is revealed slowly. This is an eerie, sad tale. People are evil and stupid, and bad things happen. Maybe the road to Hell really is paved with good intentions.

My favorite quote:
The last time I glanced at the library books on the kitchen shelf they were more than five months overdue, and I wondered whether I would have chosen differently if I had known that these were the last books, the ones which would stand forever on our kitchen shelf.

The image at the top of the post is  from Wikispaces and is of a house that brought to my mind the house in this book.


  1. I might give this one a go. I've read S. Jackson in the past I know but for the life of me I can't recall the titles. I'll have to look on my (very long) reading list.


    1. I'm the same way about forgetting exactly which things I've read/seen. I hope you like this one.

  2. Late again, but at least I have sort of a way to get on the internet, if only at night. I think I read that book, but didn't much care for it. But don't quote me on that. I know I read one similar at least.

    1. I liked her book Haunting of Hill House better, but I liked this, too. I like the way she writes.