17 March 2010
Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published: 1962 Pages: 146
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Merricat, her sister Constance, and Uncle Julian all live together in the Blackwood family home, "rehearsing past trauma and fending off change and self-knowledge." Each family member has created their own reality, which mixes with those of their housemates, overlaps, but does not completely imitate.
I would not like to ruin this gem of a novella for you, so my thoughts and the above plot synopsis may feel a bit vague if you have not yet read the book (and by the way SHAME on you, now go read it and come back).
One of the most intriguing aspects of the novella for me is the voice. Mary Katherine Blackwood (Merricat) narrates the story, but while we are directly told she is eighteen years old, the narration sounds more like a 13 year old. This gap between age and voice fascinates me, and I found the disparity directly applicable to plot and character development. The difference between what Merricat thinks she is, actually is, and says she is creates a mood the reader can not escape from, assuming the reader would even want to escape.
While the book is disturbing to the nth degree, I could not put it down and I rejoiced in the heavy, ominous, disturbing, frightful aura of reading.
Memorable Scene: The most disturbing image for me was the book Merricat had nailed to a tree - one of her protective talismans designed to keep her and Constance safe. There is something ridiculously disturbing about a book nailed to a tree.
Memorable Scene #2: Merricat engages in a fantasy at one point where she is sitting at the table with her family and they are all catering to her, saying things like Mary Katherine is never to be punished, asking if she wants or needs anything, even taking items away from the other children to give to her. Creepy.
If I've missed yours, let me know!
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FTC Disclosure: Bought it. Take that bitches.
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