Bitches Book Club Review :: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The Book Club:

“At the end of May [2015] I was feeling sort of “meh” about the Goodreads book clubs I’m part of. No offence meant to them at all! I like them. But they’re just so BIG that the books I’m particularly interested in don’t often (read: ever?) get picked and there doesn’t feel like there’s enough incentive to take part sometimes. I wanted something that was smaller so, even if I’m not super jazzed about every single book, I feel motivated to read each one because I knew the other member(s) of the book club are reading too and because of the discussion that will ensue.

SO, of course, I voice messaged Claire about it and we decided on a book within the hour!

How it works is that one of us will pick the book one month and the other will pick the book for the next month.”

This month was Nikki’s choice: The Vegetarian by Han Kang Quicksand by Nella Larsen We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Divider

89724

Book: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Publisher: Penguin 1962
Genre: Gothic, Fiction, Suspense

Summary: Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.
More Information: GoodReads

Nikki’s Thoughts & Rating:

OK I am not gonna lie….Claire made this super difficult this month! hahah Although we’d agreed to The Vegetarian, but she didn’t really seem up for it so I decided to pick a different book, but since Claire gave me a book club budget of 1p(!) plus postage, I was pretty stuck. Usually her library has stuff, but nothing I picked seemed to be there so it was a tight fit for a good pick! I chose Quicksand because I thought she might be into the story but, try as I might, I was not feeling it at all and I figured that on my book club month I should pick something that doesn’t make me tired when I think about forcing myself to read it. THEN I saw this book in my library! I’ve been wanting to read it for a while. Being a popular book I figured Claire’s library would have it or it would be really cheaply attainable(!) and it was a short read that wouldn’t be a problem as the days in the month were dwindling. I like the other works I’ve read by Shirley Jackson and I hope Claire liked this one. I did.

Since this book is most effective as a mystery, I don’t want to give anything away really, but the characters are very interesting and the mood is so well crafted. The story winds along and you try to figure out what it’s getting to the whole time. I really love the lightly anxious suspense that Jackson coats all of her stories with. I also like that her work doesn’t really feel particularly dated either despite being written decades ago. After the climax in the book I started to think the story seemed to be going on a bit longer than it needed but, actually, when I got to the end, I was satisfied with it. The obvious loss was more punchy and it left me wondering what happened after the story ended whereas, if it had ended after the “big” event, I probably would have assumed a neater ending.

I listened to the Blackstone audiobook read perfectly by Bernadette Dunne.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Nikki’s favourite line(s):

“Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you’ll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!”

Also:

“I would have to find something else to bury here and I wished it could be Charles.”

Divider

Claire’s Thoughts & Rating:

I made it super hard?! That’s BS! Nicole changed her mind a million times and we started a new rule ages back on the prices of books which made things especially difficult. I didn’t get this new book till a bit later in the month but I must say so think Nicole chose well.

Nicole’s input: Wait just a minute now! You were clearly not feeling like picking up The Vegetarian so that’s why I changed it in the first place and then you said the book could only cost 1p!!! That’s hard! hahaha (The rule we always had about books was that they’re under £5.) :’)

Where do I start with this? Apparently it is a classic. This is something that I never thought much of till now- what makes a classic? What determines this high title of “classic“? It seems to make any book immensely important immediately and worthy of praise and brilliance. It also, in my mind, makes a book a bit tedious to read in my opinion.

So when I got to this I was a little bit trepidatious but I do think Nicole has great taste so why not? There are a few things that I enjoyed about it:

  1. You really can’t trust the narrator. Merricat is initially trustworthy and deeply observant. I found this to my liking at first because you feel like you’re developing a bit of a connection with her. You learn very quickly though that all is not as it seems and that Merricat’s opinions aren’t to be trusted? There seems to be some serious continuity errors and clashes between her world view and that of others. It really draws you in!
  2. Food and more food. They seem to spend a lot of time eating in this book and the way that Jackson describes it is sublime. To be blunt: I hate eggs with an undying passion, I really can’t stand them but the way Jackson describes a soft egg for their uncle, I wanted to eat it so badly.

There were some parts that stumped me though. This book isn’t a mystery even though I really really wanted it to be, and certainly not a thriller and I would have loved it as such. I feel like this book would have worked brilliantly in either genre. Instead we get a story with gothic overtones, which while fine, left me feeling moreish ultimately.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Divider

Have you read this book yet?

If you have, what did you think? If you haven’t, do you want to?

We have decided to have one giant summer club pick for July and August with a feminist theme and we both chose…

27134953

Feel free to read along with us! 🙂

NameNikkixClaire

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Bitches Book Club Review :: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

  1. Pingback: Claire x Nikki Review July 2016 | Bitches With Books

  2. Lisa says:

    Ah, I love this book! I ended up listening to the audiobook version, and it was amazing. The narrator has a slightly weird voice, and she made all of the “Merricat…” bits so creepy!

Let's talk! Leave a reply:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s