Thursday, 23 March 2017

A Tale of Two Sisters (We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson) Stars

"Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you'll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard, ten feet deep." - Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, page 16

(A book review? What's it doing here? Must be lost.)

It's not lost. It's always lived here.

Meet Merricat. She has a cat named Jonas, likes to bury things, and spends her time fantasising about the deaths of her enemies.

Merricat's sister, Constance, hasn't left her home since she was acquitted of murdering her family six years ago. 

The sisters live in relative isolation, shunned by the majority of the town, and visited by only a couple of women. But everything changes when cousin Charles arrives. 

And Merricat doesn't like change. She doesn't like change at all.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a Gothic novel with all the usual trimmings. There's a big, old house, a dark family secret, and morality as grey as the British sky. Are we supposed to root for Merricat? For Charles? Merricat's life goal is to have her sister all to herself. She's keeping her trapped.

(So...I'm Merricat, and you're Constance?)

Pretty much.

I'd guessed the big reveal by page ten, but I was drawn in anyway by Merricat's voice. She's eighteen, but, most of the time, she sounds like a petulant child. She describes food in great detail, resents people who take her sister's attention away from her, and seems to practise her own superstitous form of witchcraft. Whether it works or is all in her head is up for interpretation.

What's the best novel you've ever read with a dark family secret?


  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVED this book :) and I'm always so happy to remember it. Have you read I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith?

    1. I haven't, but I've had it recommended to me by the same lecturer who recommended this one. Is it any good?

  2. DARN, that's a hard one. I would probably say that it would be Pillage by: Obert Skye, it was just SUPER unexpecting and I LOVED every page of that book. I'm hoping to re-read it this year, hopefully It'll be as good as the first time I read it.
    Good post, have a good day.

    1. I'm going to have to check that one out. I love it when a book manages to take me by surprise.
      Thank you for stopping by. :)