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Search tags: bernadette-dunne
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review 2018-10-11 07:07
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (audiobook) by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne
We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Acting Edition - Shirley Jackson

The Blackwood family used to be much bigger, but now there is only 18-year-old Mary Katherine (Merricat), her older sister Constance, their Uncle Julian, and Merricat's cat, Jonas. Merricat is the only Blackwood who ever leaves the house. She does all the grocery shopping and tries her best to act normal and unafraid, but inside she is a seething mass of rage and fear, quietly wishing all the townspeople dead as some of them taunt her. When she is not running errands, she spends all her time playing with Jonas and devising protections for her home that usually involve burying or hanging items around various places on Blackwood land. Meanwhile, Constance cheerfully and patiently cares for her and Uncle Julian, who is unable to walk and who spends his days writing about and obsessing over an event that occurred several years ago. The delicate balance of all their lives is disturbed by the arrival of Charles, Merricat and Constance's cousin and Julian's nephew.

This was a deeply distressing story.

I enjoyed the beginning. The Blackwood family's past was hinted at, and I came up with theories as to what had happened, who was involved, and how they were involved. The pacing didn't always work for me, and the book dragged more than a bit after Charles arrived, primarily because I thought I knew where Jackson was going with the story and I wanted her to finally get on with it.

As it turns out, I was exactly right about what happened to the Blackwood family - it's so easy to guess that I'm not even sure it counts as a spoiler. I was very wrong about where Jackson was planning on going with it all, however. When things finally came to a head, the results were unsettling and utterly horrific.

I don't suppose I liked the pacing after that much better, but it didn't seem to matter as much. I was compelled to find out just how far Jackson would go (thankfully not as far as I feared - I'm not sure I could have taken it). This is only the second work of hers that I've read or listened to, but it's enough to see that she's a master at writing increasingly unsettling heroines. I wouldn't call Merricat likeable, but overall she worked better for me than The Haunting of Hill House's Eleanor. I went from feeling annoyed and frustrated with Merricat and her childishness, to horror at her and Constance's relationship, to nearly crying for the both of them at the end.

By the end of the story, quite a few things are up to the reader's interpretation. Unfortunately, most of the big questions I had were never answered. Like the pacing, this didn't seem to matter as much to me as it should have. I was too raw from listening to Constance and Merricat try to cobble together a new "normal" for themselves to care that I hadn't gotten all the details about the Blackwood family's fate that I'd wanted, or more details about what was going on with Constance.

Bernadette Dunne's narration was great. I enjoyed her voices for all the main characters. The only things that irked me a bit were her voices for the town boys, which sounded cartoonish and contributed to a theory I had (and soon scrapped) that the taunting was all in Merricat's head.

 

Rating Note:

 

I wasn't sure how to rate this. I settled on 4 stars, even though it left me feeling terrible, because of how compelling it was.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-09-10 18:45
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunn
The Haunting Of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Bernadette Dunne

There's nothing more I can say about this book that hasn't been said by hundreds, if not thousands, of other readers and critics. It's a classic for a reason. 

 

A haunted house story to beat all haunted house stories, with the added bonus of Shirley Jackson's sublime prose. As an example I submit the opening paragraph, which in my opinion, are some of the best in all of literature. 

 

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."

 

 

I happily re-read this for this square:

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text 2018-09-07 14:30
Friday Reads 9.7.18
Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Ramsey Campbell
The Haunting of Hill House (MP3 Book) - Shirley Jackson,Bernadette Dunne
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text 2018-09-04 23:28
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunn
The Haunting Of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Bernadette Dunne

Watching Moonlight's updates on this all time favorite book of mine, AND the fact that the Classic Horror square has already been called, I've decided to re-read it, via audio,now. 

 

 

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."

 

 

I also discovered that I never added this book or my rating here! For shame!

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text 2017-12-07 15:08
Rereading/listening
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson,Bernadette Dunne

Re-reading for the Goodreads  HA Group Listen. Come and join us!

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