We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ott, Jonathan Lethem Earlier this year (2010) or late last year, I caught a film called "Spider Baby" on Netflix. Like this novel, the film concerns an isolated family living in a crumbling mansion, two psychically damaged daughters, and the consequences when an outsider attempts to breach their defenses. "Spider Baby" contrived to be a dark comedy; Jackson's is far more serious in tone, though it has its weirdly comic moments (and I recommend both for the interested).

The book is narrated by Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood. She, her older sister Constance and Uncle Julian live on their family's estate in a small New England town (reminiscent of the town in "The Lottery"). Constance is an agoraphobe and Julian is an invalid. Merricat is sui generis - difficult to describe but her overriding concern is to protect her sister and preserve the life she's contrived. All is relatively well until the sisters' cousin Charles arrives, and obnoxious and greedy man with plans to take control of the family fortune.

I'm not going to reveal much more of the story. If you're at all familiar with Jackson, you'll not be surprised to know that this is another well written exploration of small-town prejudices, paranoia and damaged psyches.

I highly recommend this, and not just to Jackson fans.