Review We Have Always Lived In The Castle

Review     We Have Always Lived In The Castle  by Shirley Jackson

Even the title of this treasure of a book gives you a hint of the style of writing that makes Shirley Jackson so wonderful.    I had to look up and re-read The Lottery after reading this book (AND its introduction.)    Her style is so conversational and easy and, yet …   it makes the reader UNEASY!    She assumes you know what she is telling you, like you are a friend, a confident.  You understand.

Then she hits you upside the head!   all matter-of-factly.

This was a delight to read because you must listen politely and wait it out.    What is going on?!    What happened?  Why are these people living like this?  Why do the villagers hate them so?

Mary Katherine aka Merricat, is the youngest daughter, living with her older sister and an elderly uncle.   She narrates the story of how she came to live like she does.    She has a very cool cat, too.   This is all I can bring myself to tell you.

You’ll just have to pick up the book and find out.

Five stars.   

For an EXCELLENT and more in-depth review, read Eva’s at A Striped Armchair.

Another great review that also references Eva’s and shares my issue with introductions, at least with this book, visit Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot.

My question to you:   Do you read the introductions first?  or wait until the end?   I MUST WAIT until after I read the book.   I hate introductions to spoil anything and they usually assume you I know more than I do already.   I don’t mind reading them after.   Montana 1948 had an introduction that enhances the story, but again;  I had to read it after I read the novel.

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13 Responses to “Review We Have Always Lived In The Castle”


  1. 1 chartroose October 10, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I loved this one, and reread it about a year ago. The cover is great. They look so…creepy!

    I read introductions first, like most NORMAL people do (tee-hee).

  2. 2 Bart October 10, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Okay, until recently I had never heard of this book, but after seeing so many reviews praising it (inc Eva’s) I am, most definitely going to have to find a copy!

  3. 3 Nymeth October 10, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    “Her style is so conversational and easy and, yet … it makes the reader UNEASY! She assumes you know what she is telling you, like you are a friend, a confident. You understand.”

    Yeees. And I think this is a big part of what makes this book so brilliant. I’m really glad you enjoyed it so much, Care! And thanks for linking to my post.

    As for introductions, I learned to read them after the book the hard way. But if they’re not safe to read first, they shouldn’t be introductions. Unfortunately it seems that publishers can’t be trusted to respect their reader’s desire to not have stories spoiled for them.

  4. 4 bkclubcare October 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    @Chartroose, it fascinates me that the book cover/jacket tells you VERY LITTLE about what is inside…

    @Bart, even after all the reviews I had read that inspired me to find it, I didn’t realize Shirley Jackson was the writer of The Lottery. What a fun little gem of a short story THAT is, huh?

    @Nymeth, thanks!! Maybe intros are for those many (more than I realize) who like to read THE ENDING before reading the middle! Cracks me up, but lots do.@

  5. 5 softdrink October 10, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    I think I need to read this.

    I read intros first. Well, unless I’ve cheated and read the end.

  6. 6 Eva October 11, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks so much for the shout out Care! :D You bet.
    And I always read the intros last. Because they always give away the plot. :p Good. Me, too.

  7. 7 beastmomma October 12, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    The cover is spooky! I tend to read the introductions first to see if I get a flavor of the book before starting!

    Spooky ooky, creepy and eeky!

  8. 8 bybee October 13, 2008 at 4:03 am

    I’m so happy that you liked this book. Ever since I saw that cover, I’ve wanted that edition.
    I skim the intro first, then go back and really read it after.

    I’m so happy you’re so happy!

  9. 9 trish October 14, 2008 at 10:00 am

    I can’t wait to read this book! I thought I had it on my bookmooch wishlist, but maybe not…I’m going to go see. :-) Thanks for not letting a good book slip through my memory!

    I just loaned it to a friend but will add to bookmooch when I get it back – or (even better) I’ll let you know it’s ready and I can send it to YOU.

  10. 10 Jessica October 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Care, thanks for your review. I’ve meant to read more of Shirley Jackson since I read “The Lottery” in school. I’ll have to start with this one!


  1. 1 Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle « Book Addiction Trackback on March 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm
  2. 2 Review - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson | Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? Trackback on April 7, 2009 at 12:28 am
  3. 3 It’s Shirley Jackson Week « Care's Online Book Club Trackback on December 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm

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