When I bought that novel, I wasn't expecting anything. Believe it or not, I had never even heard of Shirley Jackson until Amazon suggested her work to me.
The funny thing is, I ended up buying it because the illustration on the cover seemed to call to me.
And I certainly wasn't disappointed at all by that purchase.
The book tells the story of sisters Merricat and Constance Blackwood, who have lived as recluses with their uncle Julian in their family house ever since their parents and Julian's wife died from poisoning six years ago at dinner. Constance, the elder sister, because she was the one who cooked dinner, has been tried for murder and acquitted, however the people of the adjacent village, who have always disliked the Blackwoods, now pick on them constantly, so much that the sisters really have to lock themselves up for fear of intrusion or further harassment.
The story is told by Merricat, in a somewhat paranoid way. Merricat wishes every one from the village dead because of the way they treat her beloved sister and herself. She also wants to live on the moon and constantly brings it up. She likes to bury things or nail them to trees, believing them to have magical powers that keep strangers and misfits away from the house.
Merricat is a very entertaining narrator, because her delusion and her fear of the world, a fear that flirts a bit, as I pointed out before, with paranoia, gives the whole narration a little sarcastic, bitter tone that make it dynamic and full of surprises.
Each and every character but maybe one or two (minor ones) seems to have rather important psychological issues, all of them bearing either over-the-top hysterical or way too quiet personalities that create incredibly entertaining scenes.
There is nothing realistic in that novel, and it is also hard to write an accurate synopsis of it without spoiling the interesting parts. I'm also a terrible reviewer.
It's a pointless book, it starts nowhere, goes nowhere, but it has no pretension of either and it is fantastically entertaining, funny, and if a genie came out of a bottle right now, I honestly think my only wish would be to be able to read that book over and over again without ever remembering it, so I could read it and let it surprise me like it was the first time for the rest of my life.
You want to spend a nice time, reading something that doesn't take all of your reflexion capacities and lets you relax and have an intelligent laugh ?
Just take my advice.
Go buy this.