Thursday, October 09, 2008

We Have Always Live in the Castle...random thoughts


We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

In this experimental schedule thing, I've set Thursday aside for book reviews. So it's a really good thing I never got around to reviewing this book before my little blogging break. Otherwise, I'd have nothing to review, because I can't seem to finish any books lately. :(

On the other hand, I wish I didn't have to review this book...because frankly, I just don't know how. I truly adored this little book, but I cannot figure out how to talk about it. (You have no idea how tempting it is to just link up Eva's and Nymeth's reviews and call it good. After all, they are responsible for putting me in this position!)

While very short, at just over two hundred pages, this book packs a punch. I found it to be quite a unique little read, and maybe that's why I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words.

Merricat Blackwood, her sister Constance, and their Uncle Julian have been living a life of near total isolation for the past six years. Though one discovers why fairly early in the story, I still don't want to give that away here. As reader, you know all is not right with this family...you can just feel it. In fact, the whole feeling of this book is so delightfully, yet subtly, eerie.

Merricat's perspective, from which this story is told, is so utterly unique. There is something "off" with Merricat, yet I found myself very drawn to her. She exudes a childlike innocence, and yet you know there is more going on with her. And the powerful love between these sisters is undeniable. In so many ways, they view their life as nearly idyllic. But of course, it can't last...

I find myself full of little bits and pieces of things I'd like to say about this book, but can't seem to find a way to organize them coherently without giving too much away. Let me just share the first paragraph of the book...if it doesn't totally grab you, then maybe this book just isn't for you.

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.


*****

If for some reason that passage didn't sell you, you really should go check out both Eva's and Nymeth's reviews. (In fact, I'm going to have to go back and read them again to remind myself of just how beautifully they managed it!)

Eva at A Striped Armchair
(By the way, Eva was very kind, and let's one know where to stop reading her review if planning to read the book. I'm very glad I took her advice at the time!)
Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot
(I am so glad I just reread her review, because it turns out she was wonderfully able to put into words one of the things I really wanted to talk about, but couldn't figure out how. It's the part about it being so incredibly sad. Yep, definitely go read her review!)

And if there's anyone else out there with a review of this book, feel free to leave a link in the comments and I'll be sure to add it here. Thanks.

*****


Hard to believe, but I actually officially finished a challenge! But I most definitely haven't finished reading for RIP!

*****

And totally unrelated:
--I hate it, but I finally decided I just couldn't catch up and clicked the old "mark all as read" button again. That's such a painful thing to do, isn't it?

--As far as "the schedule" goes, Thursdays are also the day we announce the week's point-winners for Annie's vocabulary game over on our homeschooling blog. There's still plenty of time to join in this quarter's game. :)

--Also, as far as "the schedule" goes, Fridays are to be another book review day (so this week, I'll be silent) and they are to be my day to update our goings-on on the homeschool blog.

--Yeah, I know all this "scheduling" talk makes for riveting reading...HA! Don't worry, I'll be done announcing my plans by Monday. :)

5 comments:

Nymeth said...

Talking about this book without giving too much away really is hard, isn't it? But you did a fine job, Debi. "Delightfully, yet subtly, eerie" is the perfect way to put it. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!

Eva said...

Yay! So glad you enjoyed it. :D And I totally think you did a great review!

Bookfool said...

I don't recall whether or not I reviewed this one, since it seems like it's been quite a while since I read it, but it's perfect for the RIP and I think you did terrific. :)

Chris said...

Dammit! Why haven't I read this one yet?? First Eva, then Nymeth, now you! I really should get it read before the end of RIP. Maybe for the 24 hour readathon. Only thing is, I was going to use the readathon to tame the TBR pile some, but I've already bought 2 books just for the readathon! So this would be the third and I totally wouldn't read anything from mount TBR, lol.

Medbie said...

I hate it when a book is so good but one doesn't really know how to convey that and review it! You've got me intrigued though! I'm adding this one to my list to get and read!