Reviews: Jackson, Shirley

Two Different Faces

We Have Always Lived in the Castle — Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson’s 1962 We Have Always Lived in the Castle was published three years before her death. It was the last novel she published.

Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood lives on the vast Blackwood estate with her older sister Constance, her ailing uncle Julian, and Jonas the cat. She seldom sees other people, but that doesn’t bother her. Her periodic encounters with the people of the nearby village have convinced her that people are for the most part unpleasant, troublesome, and best avoided.

The villagers would claim they have good reason to distrust and dislike the Blackwoods. Not only is the family standoffish, and not only did the late Mr. Blackwood fence off the estate to keep lesser people from using it as a short-cut, the townsfolk are utterly convinced that Constance got away with murder.


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And I Hear Something Scratching Through The Wall

The Lottery and Other Stories — Shirley Jackson

1949’s The Lottery and Other Stories is a collection of short pieces by Shirley Jackson. Aside from The Haunting of Hill House, there’s a giant Jackson-sized hole in my reading. When I saw how inexpensive The Lottery ebook was, I snapped it up. Time spent in various waiting rooms allowed me the leisure to actually read it.

There are twenty-five pieces in this book. I am not going to do my usual story by story approach; cue sighs of relief all round.

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A Belated Halloween Offering

The Haunting of Hill House — Shirley Jackson

I don’t know what’s more embarrassing: that it took me until 2015 to read Shirley Jackson’s 1959 classic The Haunting of Hill House or that it took me until 2015 for me to read my first Shirley Jackson story 1. Or that I actually saw the movie adaptation of this novel before I read the book. At least it was the 1963 movie—the good one—and not the trainwreck from a few years ago.

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

But now Hill House is going to have guests.


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