We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
I was terribly excited to read “We have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson. It sounded very intriguing due to the mention of Arsenic in the blurb, as I have always loved reading books with an element of murder and poison. I had also read some reviews by some members of the Goodreads community, and I found that most of the reviews said that the book was weird… and boy was it weird.
We see the events of the book through Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood’s eyes. Merricat Blackwood is a peculiar character, with interesting thoughts on the villagers. Being a fascinating character, I liked that Shirley Jackson allowed us to see the thoughts in Merricat’s head and her take on certain events. However, I found it tiring at times, since I could only see the novel through a point of view which did not always give me enough information to form my own opinions and at times, I had to re-read some of the pages to check my understanding.
The villagers are always pictured as a bunch of unfriendly people. Merricat only saw their hatred, which meant that I could only see their hatred too. Their unfriendliness and dislike for the Blackwoods was well emphasized, but that was pretty much the only thing I ever learnt about them. Since their hatred was the only attribute I knew about, the characters felt a bit unrealistic. Is there another side to them? If there was a hint about that, I didn’t pick it up.
Even though it was not so obvious at first, I did manage to figure out who the culprit behind the poisoning was, before it was revealed by Ms Jackson. *Pats myself on the back*
On the other hand, there was also some things I simply loved about this book. Uncle Julian, Merricat, and Constance have a strong bond, which I admire a lot. When their cousin Charles came, I was very happy to see that this bond managed to protect them from the greed of Charles. Apart from that, the descriptions of food were wonderful. I wish I had Constance’s skill at gardening and cooking. If I did, I’d be famous by now haha.
Merricat’s personality was also very consistent throughout the book.
“We have Always Lived in the Castle” was an impressive classic. Now, go read it. 🙂
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