We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson
Read by Bernadette Dunne

5.53 Hours 03/10/2010 unabridged
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Shirley Jackson’s deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family takes readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, macabre humor, and gothic atmosphere. Six years after four family members died suspiciously of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods—elder, agoraphobic sister Constance; wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian; and eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine, or, Merricat—live together in pleasant isolation. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic to guard the estate against intrusions from hostile villagers. But one day a stranger arrives—cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune—and manages to penetrate into their carefully shielded lives. Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the revelation of a terrible secret. Jackson’s novel emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more—like some of her other fictions—as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normalcy itself.

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Summary

Summary

A Publishers Weekly Best Audiobook of 2010: Classics

A Publishers Weekly Pick for Best Genre-Bending Books

A School Library Journal Top Pick of Adult Audiobooks for Teens

Shirley Jackson’s deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family takes readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, macabre humor, and gothic atmosphere.

Six years after four family members died suspiciously of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods—elder, agoraphobic sister Constance; wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian; and eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine, or, Merricat—live together in pleasant isolation. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic to guard the estate against intrusions from hostile villagers. But one day a stranger arrives—cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune—and manages to penetrate into their carefully shielded lives. Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the revelation of a terrible secret.

Jackson’s novel emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more—like some of her other fictions—as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normalcy itself.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A witch’s brew of eerie power and startling novelty.” New York Times
“A marvelous elucidation of life…A story full of craft and full of mystery.”  New York Times Book Review
“I have always felt that some writers should be read and never reviewed. Their talent is haunting and oblique; their mastery of the craft seems complete…And now, Miss Jackson has made it even more difficult for a reviewer to seem pertinent; all he can do is bestow praise.” New York Times Book Review
“At certain moments, quietly, in quick, subtle transitions of tone, Miss Jackson can summon up stark terror, make your blood chill and your scalp prickle…she is the finest master currently practicing in the genre of the cryptic, haunted tale. To all the classic paraphernalia of the spook story, she adds a touch of Freud to make the whole world kin.” New York Times Book Review
“In her art, as in her life, Shirley Jackson was an absolute original. She listened to her own voice, kept her own counsel, isolated herself from all intellectual and literary currents…She was unique.” Newsweek
“Bernadette Dunne’s reading is flawlessly paced and suspenseful. The voices she provides the cast of characters are spot on: precocious Merricat is haunted and increasingly desperate; Constance is doting but detached; Uncle Julian is both pleasantly dotty and utterly unnerving; and Charles is the conniving villain listeners will love to hate. A treat for fans of mystery and suspense.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Jackson’s novel emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more—like some of her other fictions—as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normality itself.” Amazon.com, editorial review
“This story is a happy combination: a gripping listen matched to a narrator who delivers the story perfectly. While it’s not action packed, thrilling, tense, or any of those other adjectives usually applied to a mystery, one just cannot switch it off…It’s a compelling journey to the depths of the human soul, with an ethereal narration that almost defies description. Just listen.” AudioFile
“Bernadette Dunne, her voice all sweetness and smiles with only the slightest tinge of the sinister, gives a fully vocalized reading that enhances the increasing unsettling plot.” SoundCommentary.com

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson (1916–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote such classic novels as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work has been adapted to film, television, and theater and has influenced such writers as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction/Literary
Runtime: 5.53
Audience: Adult
Language: English