We Have Always Lived in the Castle Audible Audiolibro – Versión íntegra
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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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Detalles del producto
|Duración del título||5 horas y 32 minutos|
|Fecha de lanzamiento en Audible.es||marzo 22, 2010|
|Editor||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Tipo de programa||Audiolibro|
|Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon|| nº3,151 en Audible Libros y Originales (Ver el Top 100 en Audible Libros y Originales) |
nº6 en Ficción de terror gótico
nº174 en Narrativa Literaria
nº192 en Suspense
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The story is told by Mary Katherine Blackwood (also known as Merricat, sometimes affectionately, but often as an insult by the people who live in the village). The Blackwoods are a wealthy family who have lived for generations in a large house surrounded by a large estate. "As soon as a new Blackwood wife moved in, a place was found for her belongings, and so our house was built up with layers of Blackwood property weighting it, and keeping it steady against the world."
Six years ago Merricat's father, mother, aunt and brother all died when arsenic was put into a sugar bowl. Merricat's elder sister Constance was arrested for the murders, but acquitted due to lack of evidence. Their Uncle Julian was the only other survivor. Everyone in the village hates the Blackwoods, although it is unclear whether this is due to their wealth, because they are 'different' or because one of them is believed to be a murderer. Merricat refuses to be intimidated and visits the village every Tuesday to buy groceries. Constance is agoraphobic and does not like to leave the house; Uncle Julian's mind is going and he is confined to a wheelchair.
At the start the story reads like a mystery. Why do the villagers hate the family so much? What did happen six years ago? Who was the murderer? The answers are dripped in very, very slowly. The writing style is deceptively simple and yet the tension curls tighter and tighter. It is closer to psychological suspense than horror. Is Merricat an 'unreliable' narrator? Every word she speaks is the truth - but it's the truth as she sees it. She casts spells, buries objects or nails them to the trees in the wood. Is she a witch or just completely bonkers?
When their estranged cousin turns up, hoping to divide and conquer, and make off with the family fortune, you just know it won't end well. But don't under-estimate the Blackwoods. They have always lived in the castle - and they always will.
Recommended if you love claustrophobic psychological suspense in the style of The Turn of the Screw. Avoid if you're a fan of fast-paced jump shocks and gore.
I found this story to be too slow-paced, with no meaningful plotline. If this was a nonsense poem maybe it would work, but the characters are detestable, the whole piece lacks direction, and I found myself reading it only because I was on an aeroplane and had nothing better to do. It's a cool idea at its base I just found it badly executed. The rating is mainly there for Jonas.
If I ever read "I was chilled" again it will be too soon.
If you liked Haunting of Hill House maybe you'll enjoy this one - plenty of other people seem to, it just wasn't for me.
In Jackson’s short novel We Have Always Lived in The Castle the story is told by Merricat (Mary Katherine). So heavily is the narrative dominated by Merricat that of its 148 pages, for some 100 pages the reader is entirely within the internal monologues of Merricat. We have to be, because in the gospel according to Merricat, power is everything, and that means controlling everybody and everything around her. When she feels that she hasn’t entirely got control she is ‘chilled’ (that’s in the old sense of the word – not the new), and sometimes feels a great weight pressing on her, and it’s then that she employs her own brand of witchery to regain control. To stop people entering the huge house in which her family, the Blackwoods have lived for many years she is ever vigilant about doors, keys and locks. She buries things in the garden and nearby woods, nails books to trees, and if these ‘safeguards’ - as she refers to them – fail then she takes more severe steps to reassert her power.
Merricat has no responsibility, effectively she’s a ‘great child’ – eighteen she tells us on page 1, that’s ten years younger than her sister Constance with whom she lives together with their Uncle Julian. They are the sole survivors of the Blackwood family whose other members died, all on the same evening by poisoning – arsenic put in the sugar. Uncle Julian survived because he ‘never takes much sugar,’ Constance because she ‘doesn’t like sugar on her blackberries,’ and Merricat because that evening – six years ago when she was twelve – she had been ‘sent to bed without any supper,’ and as the reader soon discovers; ‘Mary Katherine must never be punished, we must all bow down to her.’ Constance, it seemed washed the sugar bowl before the police arrived, but that did not stop her being put on trial for multiple murder, a crime for which she was acquitted due to lack of substantial evidence. Merricat was sent to an orphanage from which she returned after the trial to live with Constance. The bond of love between them is seemingly all powerful. Merricat rarely helps Constance in the house, in fact she is not allowed to do certain things like prepare food or handle knives, or go in certain places like Uncle Julian’s room. Constance makes all Merricat’s meals, as if she were still a baby. Uncle Julian has been traumatised by the poisoning and appears to have some degree of dementia.
Here are some examples of Jackson's sublime writing; giving sentience to non sentient things, 'dim and rich, in the kind of knowing possessive way trees have of pressing closer,' or existential 'but I had no reason to expect that the creek would be there since I had never visited it on a Tuesday morning,' or 'I hoped that the house, injured, might reject him all by itself,' and 'perhaps Charles and money found each other, no matter how far apart they were.'
So, in terms of a crime novel, the reader finds themselves in the aftermath of the crime - possibly - of the century (I assume it’s set in the late 1950s), and it’s obvious who the real culprit is. But this isn’t a crime novel it’s a psychological drama. It’s blindingly obvious that Merricat has psychiatric – what we would call today – ‘issues,’ wisely undefined and quite possibly even without a name in 1962. The real fear of this novel is that the reader is not only forced to bear witness to Merricat’s power but is sucked in by way of her super astuteness, her weird and at times touching humour. When their boorish cousin Charles arrives at the house and tries to take over, he finds he’s bitten off more than he can chew. Merricat spots straight away he’s incapable of doing any useful DIY jobs around the house, that he’s failed to make a decent career and it’s obvious he’s on the make. He’s going to make changes, and changes to Merricat are like sunlight and cuxifixes to vampires. Charles is incensed by Merricat’s delinquent behaviour, he’s right, but the alarming thing is that the reader finds themselves siding with Merricat. I did, I admit it. There’s a stand off between the two of them including a glorious scene when Merricat taunts him with her knowledge of poisons. It's as if what enables Merricat to have such enormous powers of analysis is that she appears unencumbered by human emotion. Perhaps she lives vicariously off the emotions of Constance, Uncle Julian, and Charles when he takes up residence? When her various fetishes seem to fail to expel Charles, Merricat goes elemental and employs her razor-sharp opportunism to trigger a cataclysmic event. But the story doesn’t end there, it enters yet another sad but sinister phase which leaves the reader simultaneously laughing and shuddering.
The 3 remaining Blackwoods live in their house isolated from the village with fences & padlocks & no trespassing signs.
Uncle Julian is by far my favourite character. A man of gentrification, wit & jolly good humour.
His memory varies from day to day, unsure on one day if the murders took place, the next being sure he dreamt them. He has written vast notes on the subject when he is well enough, recording everything of that fateful day. What everyone had for breakfast, the weather outside, the plates dinner was served from & of course the silver sugar bowl which was pickled with arsenic. Constance not taking sugar, survives.
As the rest of her family tuck into blackberries heavily sprinkled with sugar their fate is sealed. Uncle Julian having very little sugar survives but finds himself in the most disagreeable situation of being wheelchair bound & not the strong man he used to be.
Mary Katherine, Merricat as is her nickname is sent to bed without supper, no dinner for her, no blackberries & ultimately no sugar. She survives.
Merricat’s twice weekly walk to the village to get groceries earns her ridicule from the villagers, torment from the children, she escapes into the comfort of her own head, more often than not pretending she is on the moon. As a now 18 year old her perspective is still very much childlike. She treats her shopping trips like a game. Do not pass go, take 1 step back & has check points when she gets to certain stores.
The villagers disliked the Blackwoods, even more so now that there are very few remaining. The taunts & teasing are cruel, the villagers believe Constance who was tried & cleared of her familie’s murders, for she was the one who did the cooking, killed them & got away with it. Constance has not left the house or the grounds in the six years since being cleared of murder.
In the village there is a sense of ignorance, people of grandeur that have worked her are down trodden by the simple minded, they do not like that they were not cut from the same cloth as the Blackwood’s.
Merricat likes to bury things. Money, talismans, marbles, she nails her father’s pocketbook to a tree, she believes this wards off any ill will towards her family, but if these items are moved there is a chance evil can get to them. As she passes that very tree the pocketbook now strewn on the floor, it’s rusty nail no longer able to hold it in place she knows that evil is coming for them. That evil comes in the form of Charles.
Cousin Charles, his father the brother of John, Constance & Merricat’s father. They offered no support during the trial & severed all family ties. However, Arthur is now dead, and Charles, a scoundrel is very keen to get his feet under the table in the Blackwood household.
This was a very good story which I read in one sitting, not my favourite of Shirley Jacksons tales but very enjoyable, Uncle Julian is a fantastic character in his speech & his highly quotable lines include:
‘I think if I had known it was her last breakfast I would have permitted her more sausage’. Referring to his wife &:
‘I have no jam’. ‘Would you like me to get you some?’, ‘No. Because I see I have somehow eaten all my toast’.