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Download Shirley Jackson : A Rather Haunted Life Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Shirley Jackson : A Rather Haunted Life Audiobook, by Ruth Franklin Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.67 out of 54.67 out of 54.67 out of 54.67 out of 54.67 out of 5 4.67 (2 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ruth Franklin Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2016 ISBN: 9781504739061
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This historically engaging and relevant biography establishes Shirley Jackson as a towering figure in American literature and revives the life and work of a neglected master.

Still known to millions primarily as the author of the “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson (1916–1965) has been curiously absent from the mainstream American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense and psychological horror, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America more deeply than anyone. Now, biographer Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author of such classics as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Placing Jackson within an American gothic tradition that stretches back to Hawthorne and Poe, Franklin demonstrates how her unique contribution to this genre came from her focus on “domestic horror.” Almost two decades before The Feminine Mystique ignited the women’s movement, Jackson’s stories and nonfiction chronicles were already exploring the exploitation and the desperate isolation of women, particularly married women, in American society. Franklin’s portrait of Jackson gives us “a way of reading Jackson and her work that threads her into the weave of the world of words, as a writer and as a woman, rather than excludes her as an anomaly” (Neil Gaiman).

The increasingly prescient Jackson emerges as a ferociously talented, determined, and prodigiously creative writer in a time when it was unusual for a woman to have both a family and a profession. A mother of four and the wife of the prominent New Yorker critic and academic Stanley Edgar Hyman, Jackson lived a seemingly bucolic life in the New England town of North Bennington, Vermont. Yet, much like her stories, which channeled the occult while exploring the claustrophobia of marriage and motherhood, Jackson’s creative ascent was haunted by a darker side. As her career progressed, her marriage became more tenuous, her anxiety mounted, and she became addicted to amphetamines and tranquilizers. In sobering detail, Franklin insightfully examines the effects of Jackson’s California upbringing, in the shadow of a hypercritical mother, on her relationship with her husband, juxtaposing Hyman’s infidelities, domineering behavior, and professional jealousy with his unerring admiration for Jackson’s fiction, which he was convinced was among the most brilliant he had ever encountered.

Based on a wealth of previously undiscovered correspondence and dozens of new interviews, Shirley Jackson―an exploration of astonishing talent shaped by a damaging childhood and turbulent marriage―becomes the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary giant.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Narrator Bernadette Dunne has just the voice to capture the biography’s tenor and subject, and she does a marvelous job creating an interesting audio experience. Dunne’s voice is deep, slightly raspy, and serious enough to support the author’s view that Jackson is an important literary voice that deserves to be heard. She also keeps the audiobook moving, using her range and excellent pacing to maintain our interest throughout this essential critical appraisal.”


  • “Franklin is the biographer Jackson needed: she tells the story of the author in a way that made me want to reread every word Jackson ever wrote.”

    Neil Gaiman, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “Franklin’s absorbing book not only feelingly creates a portrait of Shirley Jackson the writer but also provides a stirring sense of what it was like to navigate the strictures of American society as a wife, mother, artist, and woman.”

    Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Jackson will be best remembered for her horror story ‘The Lottery,’ but there was a lot more to her, as Franklin shows in this lively biography.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Much of Jackson’s writing is a weird, rich brew, and Franklin captures its savor.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “[Franklin] sees Jackson not as an oddball, one-off writer of horror tales and ghost stories but as someone belonging to the great tradition of Hawthorne, Poe, and James, writers preoccupied, as she was, with inner evil in the human soul.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Franklin is a conscientious, lucid biographer, and her book is never less than engaging.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A real contribution not only to biography, but to mid-twentieth-century women’s history.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Franklin’s sympathetic and masterful biography both uncovers Jackson’s secret and haunting life and repositions her as a major artist whose fiction so uncannily channeled women’s nightmares and contradictions.’”

    Washington Post

  • “A Shirley Jackson biography seems especially timely…Franklin’s is both broader in scope and more measured in its analysis….[A] masterful account.”

    New Republic

  • “Seamlessly combines the bitterly ironic story of Jackson’s demanding, self-destructive life…[and] traces the evolution of Jackson’s sensibility as a writer…A precise, revelatory, and moving reclamation of an American literary master.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Franklin gives her subject her much-deserved due and sets the standard for future literary biographers wrestling with the legacy and the unwarranted inattention of a major figure in twentieth-century American literature.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Franklin ably captures both the life and art of Shirley Jackson…[and] also sees a bigger, more original picture of Jackson as the author of ‘the secret history of American women of her era…Deftly captures the many selves and multiple struggles of a true American original.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A Library Journal Editor’s Pick for September 2016 
  • A Houston Chronicle Pick of 13 Intriguing New Titles of Fall
  • A Strand Magazine Pick for Audiobook of the Week
  • A Today Show Pick of Must-Read Books for Fall
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for October 2016
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2016 Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year 
  • A 2016 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • A Kirkus Reviews Pick of the Best Nonfiction of 2016
  • A Seattle Times Best Book of 2016
  • A NPR Best Book of 2016
  • A 2017 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography Finalist
  • A Boston Globe Pick of the Best Books of 2016
  • An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of 2016
  • A 2017 ALA Notable Book 
  • Plutarch Award Winner for Best Biography
  • Winner of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography
  • Edgar Allan Poe Award Winner for Best Critical/Biographical
  • Anthony Award Nominee for Best Nonfiction
  • A Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bur | 3/2/2017

    " To be honest, Shirley Jackson had fallen off my radar. After reading "The Lottery" and "The Haunting of Hill House", I mostly forgot her. I never knew she had written so prodigiously. The summary of the book caught my attention. I enjoyed the book so much. There aren't many books that I sneak around to listen to, but this was one of them. Fascinating life story. Bittersweet. I have to wonder if that is what fueled her off beat stories. (I've caught up since I listened to this book.) Great narration as well. It's a wonderful package and a joy. This may be a re-listen when I finish with my current book. "

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About the Author

Ruth Franklin is a book critic and frequent contributor to the New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications. A recipient of a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

About the Narrator

Bernadette Dunne is the winner of seventeen AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and the Studio Theater in Washington, DC, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. She lives in Brooklyn.