“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson

2013/04/09 § Leave a comment

If you’re looking for a book that will make you feel agoraphobic, this is the one for you.

Told from the perspective of a girl whose strangeness and narratorial unreliability are evident from the start, this novel is a story about otherness and consequent isolation and anxiety.

Focusing on Marricat and her highly sensitive, damaged sister, it tells us about the horror inflicted on them by the community that estranged them – it is the small-minded villagers and their self-righteousness that we fear, despite our awareness that we’re dealing with a sociopath. To get a better understanding of this type of horror, I suggest you read Jackson’s disturbing short story “The Lottery” (1948) and/or watch the short film (1969) bellow (imdb):

I liked this novel a lot, occasionally even smiled, but knowing that the author herself struggled with similar problems, fought her own demons and failed, it was a bitter smile.

Shirley Jackson died at the age of 48, and the last entry in her journal was:

“I am the captain of my fate I am the captain of my fate I am the captain of my fate. Laughter is possible laughter is possible laughter is possible.”

This is her final novel, published three years before her death.

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE (1962) by Shirley Jackson

(LibraryThing)

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