Natalie Waite, daughter of a mediocre writer and a neurotic housewife, is increasingly unsure of her place in the world. In the midst of adolescence she senses a creeping darkness in her life, which will spread among nightmarish parties, and the manipulations of the intellectual men who surround her, as her identity gradually crumbles.
Shirley Jackson was born in California in 1916. When her short story The Lottery was first published in the New Yorker in 1948, readers were so horrified they sent her hate mail; it has since become one of the most iconic American stories of all time. Her first novel, The Road Through the Wall, was published in the same year and was followed by Hangsaman, The Bird's Nest, The Sundial, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, widely seen as her masterpiece. In addition to her dark, brilliant novels, she wrote lightly fictionalized magazine pieces about family life with her four children and her husband, the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman. Shirley Jackson died in 1965.
The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable ... It is a place where things are not what they seem; even on a morning that is sunny and clear there is always the threat of darkness looming, of things taking a turn for the worse -- A. M. Homes Shirley Jackson is one of those highly idiosyncratic, inimitable writers ... whose work exerts an enduring spell -- Joyce Carol Oates Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders -- Dorothy Parker