Friday, February 6, 2015

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson (author), Bernadette Dunne (narrator)

Blackstone Audio, March 2010 (original publication 1952)

The Blackwood family has lived in their great house on the edge of the village for generations. Six years ago, though, the family sat down to dinner, and most of them died. Only the two daughters, Constance and Mary Catherine, and their Uncle Julian, survived. The two girls did not eat the poisoned sugar, and Julian didn't get enough of it.
Constance was acquitted, but is assumed by the village to be guilty. After all, she cooked the dinner. In the years since, the surviving Blackwoods live in virtual isolation, with few visitors, and Mary Catherine, now eighteen, going into the village only twice a week, for food shopping and library books. They've built a quiet and orderly life. Mary Catherine has a set of magical rituals she does to keep them all safe. And then cousin Charles Blackwood comes to visit, and everything comes apart.

It's Mary Catherine who tells the story, and she is so sure and certain of her understanding that it takes a while to recognize what the specific wrongness is in that viewpoint.

This is a quiet little horror story, all the more effective because of the characteristically understated way Jackson tells it. It's a little gem of an American classic.

Highly recommended.

I bought this book.