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  • Chris 11:36 pm on November 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    We Have Always Lived In The Castle Ch’s 9 & 10 

    I have to apologize to everyone for not having this post up in time!! It totally got away from me. Maybe subconsciously I was trying to avoid it because it’s our last discussion of the book 😦 I’ve had such a great time talking about this book with everyone and reading everyone’s comments about it! It really has been quite the fun read. But alas, all things must come to an end, and what an interesting end We Have Always Lived in the Castle has come to.

    Did anyone find the ending anti-climatic? At first I did. I wanted more answers. Maybe not more answers, maybe that’s not the right term, but I wanted to see things play out more. We never learn much more about Uncle Julian’s death and the girls’ reaction is a bit strange…not much of a reaction at all really. I found it odd that the girls are able to continue to live in the house despite half of it being burnt down. Even with the vines growing over the house it doesn’t seem like it would be very liveable. The girls get checked in on and Helen Clarke makes a statement that the townspeople didn’t mean it the way they took it? Or something like that? That was bizarre to me. How else were the girls to take people destroying their homes.

    But after sitting with the book for a couple of days, I began to become ok with the ending because it became almost fairy tale like to me. Where things don’t necessarily have to have a perfect ending and be tied up nicely. In fact, the ending became deliciously creepy to me with people leaving baskets on the front doorstep filled with food as an apology for their past behavior. Children daring each other to go close to the door. Stories forming about the old women who lived in the house still. But we as readers actually get to see what’s BEHIND the door. And I almost felt like the whole book was an homage to these sorts of folktales and legends that live in small towns. That it showed us the humans behind the doors. The real people who take the food that’s left in the basket and how they’re not creepy old witches, but people that we can feel for despite our initial questions about them. But of course these are just my own thoughts on the book. I would LOVE to hear your own thoughts on the ending.

    What did you think of these last two chapters and even more, what did you think of the novel as a whole? Did you enjoy it? Were you disappointed by the ending? Are you likely to read more Jackson after reading this novel? I know I am!

    Also, I just want to thank everyone for participating in this discussion!! It’s meant so much to me (who was a bundle of nerves to begin with!) and I just had so much fun hosting this. Hope everyone enjoyed it!!

     
    • Jen - Devourer of Books 8:49 am on November 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I definitely agree, it felt like a window into how fairy tales/haunted house stories get created. I do wish we’d gotten a bit more about Merricat’s motivations for killing her family, though. If I remember correctly all we really got was why she put the poison in the sugar.

      • Chris 11:15 am on November 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I meant to bring that up, Jen…I wish we would’ve gotten more of her motivations too. I think that’s mainly what I was talking about with finding the ending anti-climatic…the murder mystery part of the book just sort of dropped off!

        • Heather 5:20 am on November 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply

          I know we don’t get a clear cut “this is why she did it” sentence in the book, but I think we get clues all along. How many people does she wish dead in this book? And it’s all people who have not “been kind” to her. Considering she was what, 12? when this happened, I expect it was because they were unkind to her. In her opinion of course. Maybe it was being sent to bed without her supper?

          I’ll be back with my thoughts about the ending. I need a few more days to digest!

          • Jen - Devourer of Books 11:25 pm on November 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply

            Yes, you’re right of course Heather, but who *doesn’t* wish people dead at certain times? Most of us don’t poison the sugar bowl! On the other hand, she is clearly eccentric at best, mentally ill at worst.

    • Frankie 11:03 am on November 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      So we all seem to have a incomplete feeling. I can’t say I loved it but I did like it. I think the discussion helped a great deal. I couldn’t understand the violence from the town people. why not let the place burn? why save it and then destroy it? But if they let it burn then the tale of 2 crazy ladies wouldn’t get started. I just can’t help thinking there should be more. Do the girls live in the kitchen and basement? Will Charles or someone come back and steal or hurt the girls

      • Jen - Devourer of Books 8:43 pm on November 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Well, I think that the firemen who came were just doing their duty and saving the house, but then once the rest of the town followed them, their fear and dislike boiled over into violence.

    • Patti Smith 10:59 pm on November 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve been digesting this story and letting my imagination run away with me for the last few days…like Heather I’ve wondered and at this point suspected very strongly that there is an underlying reason for Merricat’s hate. I believe at this point in her life she is most definitely mentally ill…but I think there must be a cause…was she a victim of incest or molestation? Did Constance find out and try to protect her…both from the abuse and then from the murder? The townspeople are cruel to her bc they think she’s strange…her sister got away with murder and they’ve imagined all these crazy things that go on behind their closed doors. Happens all the time. People think they know others…when many times they really don’t know them at all.

  • Chris 8:59 pm on October 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    We Have Always Lived In The Castle Ch’s 6, 7 & 8 Discussion 

    First of all, Happy Halloween Everyone!!! Or I should say a belated happy Halloween to everyone as you’re likely reading this after Halloween. But I hope that everyone had a wonderfully spooky Halloween and that Ms. Shirley Jackson’s wonderfully atmospheric novel could add to your holiday. I have a confession to make….I finished the book! After reading these three chapters I could NOT put the book down. But I promise no spoilers for the last two chapters here :p But we certainly reached a climax with these three chapters and I found it so hard to just put the book down for another week. So let’s chat.

    What did we all think of all of this craziness??? All of this unrest? It seems that everyone just exploded in these chapters. Everyone except for Constance who seems to just always stay as level headed as she can. I feel for Constance…I truly do. The more and more we see of her personality, the more we see that in her own little world, she’s the one that has to hold everything together but she feels a constant need to hide from the outside world. Yet everything around her is in unrest. We have Merricat just losing her cool completely with Charles and who can blame her. She tears his room apart which leads Charles to lose it on her which leads Uncle Julian to lose it on him while Constance just tries to act as the moderator. And then there’s the fire….oh the fire 😦

    What a horrible scene, huh? Did anyone else feel just a huge surge of ANGER reading that scene?? As Charles tried to haul the safe out of the house and the townspeople went about smashing everything they could find in the house and even those in charge lost it. What’s left for Constance and Mary Katherine? Who are they truly safe with?

    And then of course there is the big reveal at the end of Chapter 9. The reveal that so many of you had guessed from the beginning! This is a rhetorical question for some of you, but were you surprised by this? I guess even if you had guessed that it was Mary Katherine, what did you think of the way it was revealed?

    I’m just head over heels in love with this book and am dying to get my hands on some more Shirley Jackson. What a wonderful writer she was, huh? I love the atmosphere and the emotion that she evokes with her words. Just perfect. And I couldn’t be happier with the discussions we’re having here. Thanks everyone πŸ™‚

     
    • Patti Smith 3:23 pm on November 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I kept moving back and forth between anger and sadness during the fire. Of course, I was already having enough trouble keeping it together over Charles’ behavior. He is obviously there simply because he thinks he can scavenge something…I think he was planning to get rid of Uncle Julian and Merricat so that he could marry Constance…I think Constance was terrorized by the first trial…and I think that all of the commotion is probably going to cause her to lose it and Merricat will take over. I almost hope she does. The reveal was perfect…I actually got chills even though I already suspected what Constance finally says.
      I assumed when Uncle Julian went to his room that he would die of smoke inhalation, not his heart as the doctor says. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • jendevourerofbooks 9:15 pm on November 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      When you told me last night that you couldn’t help but finish it I figured it was more a ‘well, it is almost over, might as well’ sort of thing. I started reading this week’s selection but was so tired I couldn’t quite make it to the end of chapter 8. Then this morning I was finishing my last few pages, got to the big reveal, and also couldn’t help but finish the entire thing.

      I was sort of surprised that it was Merricat all along. I thought she was a little obvious, for one thing, with all of her strangenesses, but mostly I was withholding judgment on who might have committed the murders, other than being fairly sure it wasn’t Constance. I guess I was expecting some bigger twist about whodunnit.

      Even so, I thought that these were some amazing chapters. The first particularly, with, as you said, all of the anger from the townspeople. It is amazing how, once things get rolling everybody’s inhibitions are lowered and fear is let turn to rage. Absolutely terrifying, particularly because it seems so realistic.

    • Frankie 11:55 am on November 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I feel like I missed something with this story. I was excited in the begining, and it continued with Charles’ arrival, the power struggle with MaryKatherine and Charles, the fire and the behavior of the towns people. But I don’t understand why MK killed her family,why the town’s peple don’t like then and why they were so violent. I too finished the book and feel there are a few loose threads. so i’ll wait till everyone has finished.

      • jendevourerofbooks 12:08 pm on November 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I see what you mean with why Merricat killed her family, but I think the townspeople make perfect sense. Someone killed a family that was one of the great families of the area and got away with it, and logically that must be one of the people still alive. If it was Constance, then Merricat is scary because she she seems perfectly happy leaving with Constance, and visa versa. Plus, there’s the whole fact that they live differently than everyone else and different = scary. Not to mention there may be something there with the fact that their family WAS so powerful in the area, if there were any resentments against the family it would make perfect sense for them to come out against the now largely powerless girls. When they are empowered enough to come to the house and see the girls even more vulnerable their fear turns to a feeling of power and they basically go crazy with that power.

    • Melanie 9:40 am on November 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I tore through this whole book on the Readathon! I was shocked that MK was the murderer. I was leaning toward it being one of the people who’d died as a sort of murder/suicide situation. I really enjoyed this book.

      • jendevourerofbooks 12:08 pm on November 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        That’s where I thought it was going too, Melanie!

    • citytojungle 11:25 pm on November 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Charles made me so angry in these chapters, what with his ‘oh, is this valuable?’ comments and his overwhelming need to rescue the safe from the fire. That fire scene was nuts – and some friend Helen Clarke turned out to be. True, she didn’t smash any windows, but she didn’t exactly offer any help either.

      I wasn’t really surprised at the reveal, more just ‘Aha!’ What I did find interesting, though, was that it was the first time MK & Constance had ever talked about it. So, right from the beginning Constance covered for her sister, and MK went right along with it, without ever discussing it. Actually, MK probably believes that Constance did do it. I mean, she did keep referring to the fire as Charles’ fire. MK may have poisoned the food and knocked over the pipe, but she doesn’t find herself responsible for the outcome of those actions whatsoever.

      Anyone know if throwing stones and mob mentality come up often in Jackson’s writing?

      • alitareads 10:20 am on November 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Oops! I was logged into the wrong account! This should be an alitareads comment πŸ™‚

        • Heather 9:02 pm on November 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply

          “Anyone know if throwing stones and mob mentality come up often in Jackson’s writing?”

          Check out her short story, The Lottery. Lots of both. And it’s very creepy.

          • alitareads 6:23 pm on November 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply

            The Lottery is what made the mob scene in Castle stand out to me. Definitely very creepy. I’m wondering if that’s something she included in more of her writings.

    • Heather 9:04 pm on November 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I have almost caught up, just in time for the end of discussion! 😦 I’m totally loving the audio production of this book. The reader. Is. Perfect. Bernadette Dunne. Look her up.

      I totally saw Merricat being the murderer a mile away, which did not make it any less chilling. These people are so messed up! And Charles! He just infuriated me!

      I should finish the book tomorrow. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

  • Chris 8:36 pm on October 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    We Have Always Lived In The Castle Ch’s 3, 4 & 5 Discussion 

    I have to start off by telling everyone that while I was first terrified of leading this group, I am now LOVING it! The discussion for the first two chapters has been wonderful and has me thinking all sorts of possibilities that I haven’t thought of before. So what does everyone think of our next session?

    Here we see Mary sort of spinning into almost a psychosis, I would say with the belief that buried objects will keep her safe, a book nailed to a post will keep bad things from happening, a series of three magic words can protect her (anyone have anything to say on those words?), a secret hiding place among trees to protect her and conversations with her pet cat, Jonas.

    But it’s not just Mary that’s acting increasingly more bizarre with these next three chapters. As Frankie pointed out in the comments of the discussion of Chapter’s 1&2, the whole family seems to make a mockery out of the murder of the rest of the family, often making harsh jokes about it. And does anyone else get the feeling that Uncle Julian knows much more about what happened than what he leads on…that he has some sort of dementia and occasionally sees through to the past. It almost seems to me that Constance tries to shut him up at time. I almost wonder if SHE’S putting something in HIS food at times and telling him “now now, just go outside and look at the pretty birds.”

    And then there’s Cousin Charles who I honestly don’t know what to make of. I find it highly suspicious that he’s there just to reunite and look after everyone. Highly suspicious. Though he seems toΒ  find Uncle Julian’s talk of the murders disturbing at times, there’s also something about him that just isn’t right. But let’s be honest…is there anyone in this bloodline that we’ve met so far that has their head screwed on straight?

    A lot of people mentioned in the comments last week that they had a strong feeling Mary Katherine was the one who put the arsenic in the sugar. Is everyone still feeling that way? Just curious to know. I honestly don’t know what to think at this point. I really don’t! But I have a feeling I’ll be flying through our next section tonight :p

     
    • jendevourerofbooks 11:18 am on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      So I read your question before reading chapter 5 and I was thinking “I don’t know, Charles seems okay. Sure, a little odd he just showed up, but okay.”

      But then there were his little comments to Uncle Julian about Mary not liking him and how he gets even with people who don’t like him and now he is incredibly creepy!

      I’m actually starting to wonder if it perhaps wasn’t actually one of the survivors who killed everyone. Maybe one of the people now dead had a motive we haven’t learned about yet, or perhaps Charles or his father were somehow involved.

      I do love the verbal smackdown that Mary gave Charles at the end of chapter 5, though, about the poisonous mushrooms that don’t kill for 5-10 days.

    • vivienne 1:07 pm on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Ooh I don’t like Charles at all. He is definitely weird and I think he is far too interested in what money has been left, as he asks where it is kept. He has admitted to being left nothing, so he wants the money and he is only nice to Constance. He is rather standoffish with Uncle Julian and Mary.
      I still think Mary did it, but she was too young to stand trial so Constance took her place.
      Jendevourerofbooks comment about the mushrooms is definitely a good one. Definitely one to put Charles in his place.
      Chris – I wonder if you are right about Constance putting something in Julian’s food. He does seem to change healthwise on a daily basis.
      I can’t wait to read more.

      • jendevourerofbooks 8:15 pm on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Yes! The whole money thing was *highly* suspect.

    • Frankie 3:40 pm on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Just what this family needs, another crazy relative to add to the mix. My impression of Charles is that he doesn’t know how to present himself to the remaining family to be accepted. He uses flattery for Constance, attempts to cajole MaryKatherine then resorts to innuendo and taunting. The boy has no idea that MaryKatherine is more superior (or mentally ill)in this game.
      As for Julian I think medicating him is a good guess. If MaryKatherine is guilty of murder it would be better for the remaining family to keep that out of the conversation.
      I feel a sadness for Constance. Charlies’ presence and Mrs. Clark’s conversation has stirred a longing for her to be out and normal.

    • Patti Smith 5:43 pm on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I still feel very strongly that Constance did not commit these murders, and I had absolutely 0 positive vibes about Charles. His visit was foreshadowed through Merricat’s comments that everything was going to change. Charles seems to be a manipulator. His treatment of Uncle Julian is inexcusable!!! I am stunned that Constance allows it; at least Merricat knows how to spot a charlatan when she sees one, no matter how mentally ill she is…and I’ve no doubt that she is.
      Money almost seems to obvious of a motive for Charles…I think there’s something more to this story.
      The mushroom conversation made me laugh out loud; Charles does not need to underestimate Merricat…not if he plans on surviving πŸ™‚
      I haven’t gotten the feeling that Constance is medicating Uncle Julian too much…I did wonder if the doctor is doing just that…I guess we’ll see…

  • Chris 11:42 am on October 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    We Have Always Lived In The Castle CH. 1&2 Discussion 

    It’s time to get this party started!! And by party, I mean this super creepy book. Well Ms. Mary Katherine sounds pleasant, doesn’t she? She opens the book telling us that she wishes she would’ve been born a werewolf, she dislikes washing herself and that everyone in her family aside from her and her sister are dead. I’m guessing we’re not considering Uncle Julian family since it’s by marriage or is he going to be some kind of ghost or something? And then things justΒ  get more and more bizarre as we learn that the whole town dislikes her and her sister. Or is it mostly in her head? Or is it a combination of the two? We certainly see Mary Katherine’s own imagination get carried away as she imagines the deaths of those that give her grief.

    But it’s in the second chapter that the meat of the story seems to be revealed. A murder…a poisoning with arsenic. Is it just me or did it sound like Constance and Uncle Julian were putting on a show almost for Helen Clarke and Mrs. Wright? I mean, this is a messed up family. That’s my first impression. And who is Helen? I mean yes, we know she’s one of the few townspeople that are “good enough” to come and visit the girls, but why? What’s her interest in them? And why bring Mrs. Wright?

    Wow…there’s just so much to talk about here. I was hooked by this book right from the beginning!! I’m so glad to be reading this one!! And I really can’t wait to see where it goes. So here are a few questions to discuss: What were your thoughts going into this novel? Is it anything like what you expected? Do you think that Constance put the arsenic in the sugar as of right now? Any hunch on what’s up with the family? There’s just something really off about them. Why is Helen so interested in the girls? What about the title of the book? And most importantly…are you hooked?!

    Can’t wait to meet everyone here next week!! Same time, same place πŸ˜‰

     
    • jennygirl 12:07 pm on October 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I so wish I could read this one with you guys! Poor planning on my part. Oh well, hopefully I can make the next read-a-long. Have fun πŸ™‚

    • vivienne 12:38 pm on October 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I am beginning to think it is a cover up by Constance and Uncle Julian. I am wondering if the crime was actually committed by Mary instead, but as she was so young (12 at the time) they wanted to save her from juvenile prison. That is why the family put on such a show – well that is what I think anyway. It is a weirder book than I expected but I am really enjoying it. I think Helen is just a busybody always trying to make people better than they are and sorting everyone’s problems.

    • Devourer of Books 1:32 pm on October 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll be back with real thoughts either tomorrow or Thursday, last week just got away from me a little.

    • jendevourerofbooks 8:45 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Okay, I read this last night, and what the heck is going on?!? I think that the most interesting part was actually right after Helen and Lucille left, when Uncle Julian was asking whether or not the events he had just described had really happened. Not that the entire rest of it wasn’t WTF worthy, but that was particularly so. I did also wonder why Helen would have brought someone with her when she had to have known what would happen. Did she secretly want Mrs. Wright to ask all of those questions and only protested because it was the ‘polite’ thing to do?

    • Frankie 11:14 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Well I’m right with u Jen. Mrs. Clarke is nosey and brought a friend to do the dirty work. But I’m confused about how old the girls r and how long ago this murder occurred, why turn a sad situation into a joke? why stay in a town where u r hated? why r u wearing ur mother’s shoes?

    • alitareads 12:16 am on October 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I agree with vivienne – I think that Mary slipped the arsenic into the sugar, and the other two are covering it up. I am eager to find out what it was about that day – I guess even that visit with Helen and Lucille – that caused Mary not to be able to return her library books for over 5 months.

      I didn’t really get into the book much in the first chapter, but chapter two definitely hooked me. Part way through chapter two I took a short break and read The Lottery. I hadn’t read since high school but never forgot it thanks to that twist at the end. Now I’m looking forward to finding out what kind of twists Jackson has in store in this book.

    • Patti Smith 10:04 am on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a little behind but hopefully will be caught up by tonight…I am absolutely hooked though…and everytime Merricat gets that chill, I find myself getting one too. πŸ˜‰ I wasn’t sure what was going on until Chapter 2 and then I started thinking about possibilities. I think it is very possible that Merricat was the actual murderer and Constance just covered it up. Merricat is obviously phycologically “messed up”…the parts about her imagining others dead and pleading for help is what gave it away for me πŸ˜‰ Constance has obviously been traumatized as well somehow and I’m guessing it’s because of witnessing her family’s murder, being arrested (falsely, I think) for murdering her family and the way the villagers treat her and her family. Right now I think all of that is real; I don’t think they are imagining the meanness from others. I’m wondering if Uncle Julian has some brain damage from his poisoning? He also seems evil to me…the way he taunted the ladies. I don’t think Constance is in on anything right now; I think she’s just trying to be her prim and proper mother. Can’t wait to find out what’s happening next!

  • Chris 3:59 am on October 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
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    Welcome To We Have Always Lived In The Castle! 

    Hey everyone!! My name is Chris, and I’ve been asked to host the Classic Reads Book Club in the fourth quarter read this year! I can’t tell you how honored I was just to be asked and then how terrified I was. You see, I really have no idea what I’m doing over here, so please be gentle :p I promise to try my best though!

    A little introduction, I blog over at Stuff as Dreams are Made on and have been doing that on one platform or another for almost four years now. When I started blogging, I read almost exclusively fantasy, sci-fi and horror, but my reading tastes have broadened tremendously since I’ve been blogging!! But there is always that special place in my heart for the previously mentioned category. So when I was asked to host this book club, my thoughts wandered over that way. And they fell upon this book by Shirley Jackson that I have been wanting to read for years now! And it’s quite a short book, but from what I’ve heard, it packs quite the punch in it’s slim volume.

    I can’t wait to discover what lies between the covers with you all! I’m really quite excited about this πŸ™‚ Here’s the schedule that I’ve worked out for us:

    October 18th – 24th: Read and Discuss Chapters 1&2

    October 25th – 31st: Read and Discuss Chapters 3-5

    November 1st – 7th: Read and Discuss Chapters 6-8

    November 8th – 14th: Read and Discuss Chapters 9&10 and Wrap Up πŸ˜€

    I’ll put the posts up over here on either the night before discussion begins or first thing in the morning. Since I’m not a morning person at all, it’ll likely be the night before :p Hope everyone enjoys!! Happy spooky reading to you all!!

     
    • Heather 7:07 pm on October 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Oh Chris, you are going to be awesome! Don’t be nervous; we don’t bite! πŸ™‚

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