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From My Bookshelf: More Shirley Jackson

In the October edition of From My Bookshelf, I featured three of Shirley Jackson’s novels that I had recently added to my book (and Penguin Classics) collection, and mentioned that I wanted to own and read all of six of Shirley Jackson’s novels. I am happy to say that since that post, I have read all three of those books (I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle last year). I do plan on discussing each book in separate blog posts, but that is a project for the future. Today I’m featuring the remaining two Shirley Jackson novels books, which I’m excited to read and place on my shelves among the others.

If you are new to From My Bookshelf, you can learn about the series here.

The Bird’s Nest
Foreward by Kevin Wilson

  • Shirley Jackson’s third novel
  • Originally published in 1954 by Farrar, Straus
  • Penguin Classics edition, 2014

Elizabeth Richmond is a demure twenty-three-year-old whiling her life away at a dull museum job, living with her neurotic aunt and subsisting off her dead mother’s inheritance. When Elizabeth begins to suffer terrible migraines and backaches, Aunt Morgen takes her to see Dr. Wright, a psychologist with some unusual techniques. Slowly, and with Shirley Jackson’s characteristic chill, we learn that Elizabeth is not just one girl—but four separate and competing self-destructive personalities. The Bird’s Nest, Jackson’s third novel, develops hallmarks of the horror master’s most unsettling work: a tormented heroine, a riveting familial mystery, and a disquieting view inside the human mind.

The Sundial
Foreward by Victor LaValle

  • Shirley Jackson’s fourth novel
  • Originally published in 1958 by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy
  • Penguin Classics edition, 2014

Before there was Hill House, there was the Halloran mansion of Jackson’s stunningly creepy fourth novel, The Sundial. When the Halloran clan gathers at the family home for a funeral, no one is surprised to see peculiar Aunt Fanny wander off into the garden. But she returns reporting on an astonishing vision: Her late father has appeared to her and given the exact date of an imminent apocalypse, from which only the Hallorans and their hangers-on will be spared. Soon the family is engulfed in growing madness, fear, and violence. Lost in machinations and belief in a coming paradise, they prepare for the terrible storm they are sure will bring this new world—beautiful and for them alone.

Are you a fan of Shirley Jackson’s novels and/or short stories? Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear from you in a comment below.


  • Diana

    I really admire your desire to read six Jackson books and am looking forward to your reviews and updates on the remaining two. Shirley Jackson can be great. I loved her short story “The Lottery” and then liked “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”. To be frank, I had such high hopes from “The Bird’s Nest” that it proved (slight) disappointment for me. Maybe because of my high expectations. It started well, but went downhill for me – and normally everyone would guess what is going on from twenty or so pages.

    • Kelsey @ There's Something About KM

      Thank you! The Lottery was my introduction to Shirley Jackson—I loved it too!— and her Dark Tales collection is a great one for more stories like that one (shocking, horrific, etc.). I also really liked We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and your experience with The Bird’s Nest sort of reminds me of my experience with The Haunting of Hill House…😬 and that’s all I’ll say for now. 😉

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