We have always lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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Leggi questo articolo in italiano


We always lived in the Castle is a strange book, but it for sure provides various hint to start a discussion (like in the YA group in Goodreads).

We choose it for the unreliable narrator theme, but in the end here we have more than a single unreliable one, and among them the writer herself.

We have always lived in the Castle

The Blackwood family was the most rich in the town: the house, the park – then fenced in to avoid people of the town passing through it, the riches. The Blackwood family – almost completely – died by poison six-year before the story of the novel. Three the survivors: Merricat, an eighteen year old girl, her sister Constance, of about 28 years of age, and the old uncle, survived with serious mental and physical damages.

Merricat is the point of view chosen by the author, and the only Blackwood who is still dynamic: she has the duty to go to the town for groceries, while Constance has chosen not to go out of home for the whole six years, for she was accused of the murders.

The three character live in a precarious, but stable, balance; the town’s people hate them but keep them far away, and some old acquaintances of the family still go to meet the two sisters. The system will begin to break apart when cousin Charles come to the town, him being an external disturbance to the life of the Blackwood.

There are some unreliable narrators, and Shirley Jackson leaves lots of issues unanswered. Merricat is the most unreliable POV, she reasons like a ten-year old girl, but she is a grown up, and she sees the world full of magic, where symbols and world have an unexpected power. At the same time the other two Blackwood do not want to pursue truth, Costance does not face her sister issues, while their uncle spends his time trying to put together the night of the family poisoning.

I liked this novel, but not everybody likes how much to answer it leaves at the end, and it contains some interesting thematic other than the Blackwood, like the town people behaviour, or Charles tendencies to break system in balance.


* We have always lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson ★★★★☆½

*I read this book in italian

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