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Extended Audio Sample We Have Always Lived in the Castle Audiobook, by Shirley Jackson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.99986470064004 out of 53.99986470064004 out of 53.99986470064004 out of 53.99986470064004 out of 53.99986470064004 out of 5 4.00 (12,343 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Shirley Jackson Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2010 ISBN: 9781455197279
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Shirley Jackson’s deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family takes readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, macabre humor, and gothic atmosphere.

Six years after four family members died suspiciously of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods—elder, agoraphobic sister Constance; wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian; and eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine, or, Merricat—live together in pleasant isolation. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic to guard the estate against intrusions from hostile villagers. But one day a stranger arrives—cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune—and manages to penetrate into their carefully shielded lives. Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the revelation of a terrible secret.

Jackson’s novel emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more—like some of her other fictions—as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normalcy itself.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A witch’s brew of eerie power and startling novelty.”

    New York Times

  • “A marvelous elucidation of life…A story full of craft and full of mystery.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “I have always felt that some writers should be read and never reviewed. Their talent is haunting and oblique; their mastery of the craft seems complete…And now, Miss Jackson has made it even more difficult for a reviewer to seem pertinent; all he can do is bestow praise.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “At certain moments, quietly, in quick, subtle transitions of tone, Miss Jackson can summon up stark terror, make your blood chill and your scalp prickle…she is the finest master currently practicing in the genre of the cryptic, haunted tale. To all the classic paraphernalia of the spook story, she adds a touch of Freud to make the whole world kin.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In her art, as in her life, Shirley Jackson was an absolute original. She listened to her own voice, kept her own counsel, isolated herself from all intellectual and literary currents…She was unique.”

    Newsweek

  • “Bernadette Dunne’s reading is flawlessly paced and suspenseful. The voices she provides the cast of characters are spot on: precocious Merricat is haunted and increasingly desperate; Constance is doting but detached; Uncle Julian is both pleasantly dotty and utterly unnerving; and Charles is the conniving villain listeners will love to hate. A treat for fans of mystery and suspense.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Jackson’s novel emerges less as a study in eccentricity and more—like some of her other fictions—as a powerful critique of the anxious, ruthless processes involved in the maintenance of normality itself.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “This story is a happy combination: a gripping listen matched to a narrator who delivers the story perfectly. While it’s not action packed, thrilling, tense, or any of those other adjectives usually applied to a mystery, one just cannot switch it off…It’s a compelling journey to the depths of the human soul, with an ethereal narration that almost defies description. Just listen.”

    AudioFile

  • “Bernadette Dunne, her voice all sweetness and smiles with only the slightest tinge of the sinister, gives a fully vocalized reading that enhances the increasing unsettling plot.”

    SoundCommentary.com

  • A Publishers Weekly Best Audiobook of 2010: Classics
  • A Publishers Weekly Pick for Best Genre-Bending Books
  • A School Library Journal Top Pick of Adult Audiobooks for Teens

Listener Opinions

  • 2.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 52.333333 out of 5 Kate | 10/12/2016

    " Boring. Stop talking about who's coming over for tea and what's in the garden and get to the point. There was no pay off. Hated it "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mokieblylk | 2/16/2014

    " it was a very good read and with well written characters. Constance, Merricat and Uncle Julian were almost comical to read about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole Castle | 2/9/2014

    " Within the first few pages of this book, Shirley Jackson went from a writer I remembered reading in high school (the fabulously dark Lottery) to one of my top 5 favorite authors. Merricat Blackwood lives in this great little fantasy world where she casts spells and the entire town is a board game. She loves her sister and her uncle Julian, and hates just about everything else. It's delightful and spooky and altogether too short. I wish I could live at Blackwood House forever. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aubrey Ralph | 2/7/2014

    " This might be the most wonderful book I've ever read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy Day | 2/5/2014

    " Wonderfully creepy and suspenseful, and also incredibly well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 1/5/2014

    " Very good, sad story. Quick read. A gift from Ilse. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie | 12/28/2013

    " Its not a thrilling zinger like the lottery, but it had the consistent eeriness that i love "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leann | 9/4/2013

    " This book is thoroughly timeless and location-less. I can't even believe it was written 60 years ago, because you don't get any hint of that. Which is what makes it so classic. It is thoroughly creepy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rowena | 8/30/2013

    " What a creepy story! My first Shirley Jackson book and I was really impressed by the way she held my attention from the first page.I enjoyed the dark tone of the book. In general, it was very unsettling but I didn't want to stop reading it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shannoncj Jensen | 8/30/2013

    " Such a well written suspenseful story! I loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wylaina | 5/19/2013

    " Haunting and good, but very hard to discover why people can be so cruel to others. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Randy | 4/15/2013

    " This is probably the strangest book I have ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nathanial | 3/19/2013

    " Really fun read! Good mixture of creepiness and intrigue. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauralee | 2/16/2013

    " This is not a comfortable book to read. But, Shirley Jackson has a way with words that make her one of my favorite authors. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracy Dalton | 2/6/2013

    " Not really sure how to rate this one. In some ways I enjoyed it, but it was really weird. Not my favorite Halloween read this year. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rob Stauffer | 3/4/2012

    " As opposed to a dull pain in your leg, I would describe this as a dull creepy sensation throughout the book. There's nothing big, just an uncomfortable sense of what's happening thoughout. I didn't love it, but it was an interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee Ann | 2/11/2012

    " "Merricat," said Constance, "would you like a cup of tea?" "Oh, no," said Merricat, "you'll poison me!" I read this book over 30 years ago, and that little singsong taunt has stuck with me. Another book I need to re-read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/23/2012

    " I liked it. Since it was a young adult book I felt it was short and lacked detail. But good anyhow. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy Hunsinger | 1/17/2012

    " I will say this, I do wish I were one of those super intelligent readers that can analyze writing, meanings, etc in a story. All I can say is that I enjoyed this creepy book. Quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stepheny | 12/16/2011

    " I found this book odd. It made me shudder a bit but otherwise not as "shocking" as it may have been when the book was written. I did enjoy the story and it's a phenomenal audio book. It just wasn't what I was expecting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Sullivan | 11/4/2011

    " This book is still one of the weirdest, most unsettling books ever. And I love it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Benjamin Smith | 8/27/2011

    " Shirley Jackson just draws you in. She does it in a way that is seductive. Her language is magnificent! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melliott | 5/23/2011

    " I love Shirley Jackson. I know she is too subtle for some, but she gives me that good, creepy, hair-raising on the back of the neck effect that I like in horror, without the shock and gore factor! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amanda | 5/19/2011

    " This one ended without answering many questions. It was an odd story without being a "good" odd. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stefano | 5/17/2011

    " I found the writing of this book excellent, although the plot is quite weird. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lila | 5/12/2011

    " You probably read The Lottery in high school. This easy read was just as delightfully creepy. Arsenic, sympathetic magic, and old houses..yum! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wils | 5/12/2011

    " A wonderfully dark story about a family living in isolation in their home after something horrible once happened there. My first exposure to Shirley Jackson and I'm ready for more! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amanda | 5/8/2011

    " Very creepy awesome! I'm glad that you told me to read this Shawn. A new favorite! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 5/8/2011

    " Tore through this book so fast! Easy, clean read. Wonderful use of details and imagery - loved the combination of odd details and constant references to the moon, burying things, charms, fire, etc.

    Lost a star because the plot was a little too easy to predict. WOULD YOU LIKE A CUP OF TEA? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Megan | 5/7/2011

    " Very interesting. A quick and unsettling read. I'd love to get someone else's thoughts on the narrator. Would be a great book club selection. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 5/3/2011

    " Eerie and strange and filled with the narrator's own cluttered, wild imagination. Very difficult to put down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kris | 4/29/2011

    " Another sensational story by Shirley Jackson. Her glimpse into human nature is unnerving. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 4/25/2011

    " This book presents so many interesting angles: feminism, sisterhood, nurturing, wildness, food, elements of witch hunting. The unreliable narrator is an eighteen-year-old girl who comes across much younger. Silly Merricat! It’s hard to believe that this was written in 1962. Potent stuff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 4/24/2011

    " The queen of psychologically creepy stories. Love her! "

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About the Author
Author Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson (1916–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote such classic novels as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work has been adapted to film, television, and theater and has influenced such writers as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson.

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.