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Some of Bev's Favorite Quotes...



Saturday, February 26, 2011

We Have Always Lived in the Castle


Bleah. Thanks, Snoopy (and Charles Schulz). That says everything that needs saying about Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I could just leave the review at that. I realize that isn't very professional. But wait, I'm not a professional. I'm just your average, book-loving blogger who wants to record her thoughts on what she reads. But, you say, why did you think it was bleah? [Possible spoilers ahead...beware.]

Well, maybe because nothing happened in the first third of the book. Nothing substantial that is. Oh...Mary Katherine went to town to get library books and groceries. And she thinks the townspeople all hate her & her family. What's left of it. Okay. Great. Oh, and there's these little snippets that tell you that there used to be more people in Mary Katherine's family. Before they were all poisoned. And her sister, Constance, was accused and acquitted of the murders. Well, that ought to grab the attention, right? Not so much. Not even when you consider that I love mysteries. But quite frankly there was nothing in this book that made me the least bit curious whether Constance really did it or not, and, if not, who did. If all the build up was supposed to produce a gothic feel, then, I'm sorry Shirley Jackson, but it Did Not Work. At least not for me.

Sure, this is one weird little family which gets a whole lot weirder when Cousin Charles shows up. And there's a fire. And we find out who poisoned the family. But...I Did Not Care. There wasn't anything about this story that grabbed me. Not the characters. Not the story itself. Not the setting. Not the writing. This was a big ol' black hole of a novel--it sucked up a whole day's worth of reading and gave me nothing in return. I'm not even sure I can award it one star on the ol' rating scale. But I will...one star for giving me one read in the Gothic Reading Challenge.

7 comments:

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Oh dear! Still, it is a short book.

I rather enjoyed this macabre tale, which I thought was weird but I liked its portrayal of fear, resentment, hostility and persecution of its disturbed and damaged characters.

SenoraG said...

Thank you Bev. I thought it was me. I felt the same way. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen and it never did. I had heard such great things about this book and it fell flat in my opinion. It's nice to see I am not alone. Whew.

Bev Hankins said...

@Margaret: Well, obviously from what I've read/heard about this book, I'm in the minority. I remember reading her story "The Lottery" and liking it...but this just did nothing for me.

@SenoraG: You're welcome. You're not alone!

Shelley said...

That's how I felt about Haunting of Hill House by her. I definitely felt alone in my lack of enthusiasm for it.

Cath said...

Yes... from all the hype I too was expecting something spectacular. Turns out it's not and I guessed the secret right from the beginning. Disappointed.

Charley said...

I wasn't a huge fan of this book either, or The Haunting of Hill House. I remember liking The Lottery when I first read it during high school, but I wonder if I would still like it now.

Ryan said...

The Haunting of Hill House is one of my top 5 favorite books, so I've always wanted to read her other work. This is one that has been on my TBR list, so I think I will still get to it, I just won't get my expectations too high.