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The Bird's Nest

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,014 ratings  ·  258 reviews
Elizabeth is a demure twenty-three-year-old wiling 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, her aunt takes her to the doctor, then to a psychiatrist. But slowly, and with Jackson’s characteristic chill, we learn that Elizabeth is not ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published December 1st 1993 by Yestermorrow (first published 1954)
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Jack You could try The Minds of Billy Milligan. Or Sybil. Or just google "books about DID", there are a decent amount.

Community Reviews

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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,014 ratings  ·  258 reviews

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Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
The more I read by Shirley Jackson, the more of a fan I become. This is a masterful character study of a woman with multiple personalities--told (as is fitting) from multiple perspectives. Shirley Jackson once again proves herself to be the queen of creepy, the dame of disquiet. I give it 4 stars instead of 5 only to distinguish it from her greater later work: We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House. Here, she explores many of the same themes--psychological dread, menta ...more
Nandakishore Varma
“Elizabeth, Beth, Betsy, and Bess, they all went together to find a bird's nest...”

(Image - image by Dreimond)

Elizabeth Richmond is a troubled young woman. Ostensibly a quiet, plain orphan girl employed in an uninteresting job in a museum, she's anything but the exterior she poses to the world - because inside, Elizabeth is really four people. The quiet and mousy Elizabeth, the extremely sensitive Beth, the wickedly naughty Betsy, and the juvenile and anti-social Bes
Foreword, by Kevin Wilson

--The Bird's Nest
Fiona MacDonald
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Strange and wonderful, Shirley Jackson does the odd and peculiar so well, like you are in a world completely alien to all others and where things that would be strange to you or I are normal to these characters. Although I found it a bit tough during the middle, the beginning and end gripped me and I was fascinated to see how Jackson writes about 4 separate characters in one body (a bit like 'The Three Faces of Eve). This must surely be one of her cleverest books ever, I was amazed she could con ...more
Michela De Bartolo
Primo libro letto di questa autrice. Devo dire che l’idea di scrivere di un personaggio come Elizabeth affetta dal distrutto di personalità multiple è un’idea eccellente. Mi sono appassionata alla descrizione di ogni personalità come se fosse realmente un’altra persona ,con ognuna i suoi pregi e difetti . .. peccato che verso la fine abbia preso piede una confusione in cui mi sono totalmente persa . Voglio credere che la Jackson l’abbia studiata a tavolino questa confusione finale , così da lasc ...more
Che pasticcio!
Un libro che ti promette la tensione salvo poi consegnarti una farsa.
Si parte dignitosamente facendoci conoscere la giovane Elizabeth Richmond: scialba impiegata di un museo con una vita ordinaria nella sua routine ma triste per la mancanza di relazioni.
Elizabeth, infatti, sembra essere trasparente: nessuno la nota, nessuno se ne interessa.
Lei, tuttavia, pare non affliggersi per questo e si crogiola nel suo anonimato.
La sofferenza sembra essere solo fisica e causata da forti emi
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Una voce fuori dal coro: sono al 75% e mi sto annoiando a morte. Se fino a circa metà ero interessata a come sarebbe andata a finire, ora sono solo interessata a finire.

"recensione" al termine, se ci arrivo da viva
Sono lieta di aver finito qs libro. Non di averlo letto eh, di averlo finalmente finito.
Posso dire di non averci capito un tubo? Dunque, c'è una ragazza che si rivolge a un medico perché ha sempre mal di testa, dorme male, è rigida come un baccalà. Il fenomeno cerca di aiutarla
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having loved, “The Haunting of Hill House,” and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” I was looking forward to reading more by Shirley Jackson. Published in 1954, this is Jackson’s third novel and already has several themes which recur in later books. The main character, Elizabeth Richmond, is a withdrawn and isolated young woman who acts much younger than her actual age. When we meet her, she lives with her Aunt Morgen and working in the clerical department of a museum. She hardly seems to be n ...more
Acacia Ives
For what they had for information and treatment at the time this novel was written I'm beyond impressed. Several things in this felt like things only a person with DID would know. I'd love to know Shirley Jacksons sources on this story. Review to come
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

I think that this was one of Jackson's most commercially successful novels, and while in many ways it reads like vintage Jackson, it has a slightly different feel than We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, two of my favorites.

In The Bird's Nest, Shirley Jackson once again taps into the complicated psyche of her characters and ultimately her readers with the story of Elizabeth Richmond, a young women suffering from multiple personalities.

This once popular
Originally published in 1954, The Bird’s Nest is Shirley Jackson’s well-regarded tale of a young woman suffering from multiple personality disorder. There are four separate personalities within this girl (referred to by her treating physician as “Miss R."): timid, colorless Elizabeth, cloyingly sweet Beth, hyperactive prankster Betsy, and venal, greedy Bess. The novel describes Elizabeth/Beth/Betsy/Bess’s initial unraveling, eventual diagnosis, and the efforts of a Dr. Wright (with the help of M ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I was amazed at what Jackson got right about DID. The first and third parts of the story were my favorites. I didn't enjoy the perspective of Doctor Wright very much. His methods and sense of ownership over Elizabeth's personality were unethical and frustrating to read. I also found the plot not very climactic. Overall, though, I enjoyed this and definitely want to read more Jackson. I'm enchanted by her succinct and haunting writing style.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the correct term nowadays is Dissociative Identity Disorder, but this book is from the '50s (I think) so Elizabeth's condition is called something else. I can't vouch for how accurate a portrayal it is. It kept me turning the pages, and I was expecting Morgen...I don't know if she was a jealous sister, a fed-up guardian, or something else entirely, but she got rather verbose with long rants in the latter half of the book.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La protagonista di questa storia è Elizabeth Richmond (be’ prendiamo questa affermazione con le pinze, poi capirete il perché) una ragazza poco più che ventenne senza particolari caratteristiche fisiche o di personalità che la caratterizzano. È la tipica persona che passa inosservata, che in una stanza piena di gente viene lasciata in un angolo, e che non fa nulla per cambiare questa situazione perché nemmeno si rende conto di essere ignorata. Persino i suoi colleghi di lavoro del museo potrebbe ...more
Silvia Feliceconunlibro
Recensione completa: .

Lizzie è stato il primo grande romanzo sulle personalità multiple, io ho deciso di leggerlo perché questo argomento mi interessava molto ed effettivamente non ne sono rimasta delusa anzi, durante la lettura ho provato un giusto mix tra fascinazione ed inquietudine.

Il tema viene trattato su più livelli:
Innanzitutto dal punto di vista clinico e quindi come malattia vera e propria, con i suoi sintomi e una terapia da seguire.
Il comport
Richard Moss
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, magic-square
I fell in love with Shirley Jackson when I read We've Always Lived in the Castle.

This is an earlier work, and while it isn't as successful, it's still a compelling, dark and disturbing read.

Its subject is Elizabeth - a woman with a multiple personality disorder.

Elizabeth is a quiet, apparently unremarkable woman working in a museum and living with her aunt. She is afflicted by backaches, headaches and insomnia, and is disturbed when she receives threatening letters.

But this is only the start of
Nov 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, mystery
I just finished this book after starting it two days ago. I must say, after reading it, my brain is exhausted. However, the exhaustion is not to be confused with dislike for The Bird's Nest. I enjoyed it very much. It's just a lot to take in--hard to follow if you will. It all comes together as the book progresses, but for a majority of the reading, the reader is left confused and inquiring about what is being said or what has happened. Though that is the point, I'd imagine.

The book is about a w
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Poor Elizabeth Richmond. Poor Beth Richmond. Poor Betsy Richmond. Poor Bess Richmond.

Who are all there poor people, you may ask? Actually, it's just one person. We can collectively refer to this person by her "pre-fracture" name, Elizabeth. She's a shy girl of twenty-three who, like all of Shirley Jackson's heroines, acts much younger than her age. At some point in her past, she suffered a terrible trauma and, employing a very unhealthy coping mechanism, fractured her own personality into four
☽ Sono sempre vissuta nel castello Chiara
Questo libro si è rivelato essere ben al di sotto delle mie aspettative, ero sinceramente convinta che mi sarebbe piaciuto, date le premesse, invece purtroppo non è successo.
Il voto così basso è dovuto al semplice fatto che questo libro è scritto male, i dialoghi sono terribili, in particolare tutte le parti del Dottor Wright fanno sanguinare gli occhi a leggerle, il tono altisonante e compiaciuto del dottore è veramente brutto e snervante. La trama praticamente non esiste, il 70% del libro cons
May 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this started so well, Elizabeth works in a leaning museum with a hole through it, she starts receiving these sinister notes 'i hate you dirty lizzie...' and her aunt keep accusing of her sneaking out in the middle of the night. I'll take a bushel of that. It builds up this surreal and disturbing tension until the doctor steps in...and god is he ever a pretentious douche. It all gets a bit flabby in the midriff, and the doctor's narratives annoyed me. I loved The Haunting of Hill House, ...more
juicy brained intellectual
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, used
i was kind of worried after i read hangsaman that there was a reason early shirley jackson novels were out of print but no, this is great. i love the way shirley jackson writes mentally ill women, although i was a bit worried this one would be problematic considering the disagreements over MPD/DID. idk, i guess it's a bit dated but i liked it a lot and now more than ever i am excited to read judy oppenheimer's bio of ms jackson.

also, i scored this for $2.75 from better world books' last sale. u
Laila (BigReadingLife)
3.5 Stars. Deliciously strange. Who wrote stuff like this in 1954? Shirley Freaking Jackson, that’s who. In my quest to read everything she wrote, it wasn’t my favorite, but I’m glad I read it. It felt overly long in the middle, but the story of a young woman with multiple personalities and the doctor and aunt who want to “save” her captivated me all the same. (The scene where Aunt Morgen witnesses all the personalities taking a bath one after the other, unaware of all the time they’d spent in t ...more
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
This, Shirley Jackson’s third novel, came out six years after “The Lottery” and five years before The Haunting of Hill House. It is clear that what she is interested in are themes that encompass the dark depths humanity can sink to and intensely character-driven stories. Though I don’t think The Bird’s Nest can be considered a Gothic novel (like her last two and more well-known books), it shows clear ruminations on interiority and deeply emotional characters and the creation of a dark, tense atm ...more
Kressel Housman
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, psychology
When I picked this up, the only work I'd ever read by Shirley Jackson was "The Lottery," which was required reading in my 9th grade English class. I imagined her full-length novel would be similar, a grabby read with a disturbing surprise ending, and I was right.

Okay, I'll qualify that. The first few paragraphs were so dull and wordy, I almost gave the book up right then and there. They describe a museum, which is the workplace of the protagonist, though you're not told that right away. This des
Robyn Gail
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stas
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gave up on this after 60 pages, just not my thing at all.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Bird's Nest, Elizabeth Richmond seems a normal young woman. She works at the museum, a small position that is not challenging. She lives with her Aunt Morgen,
then her life begins to change. She finds notes left for her at work. She is constantly cursed with headaches.
It finally comes to a head one night while they were visiting neighbors. Elizabeth behaves in a shocking way. Her aunt insist that she visit the doctor. She is then sent to a psychologist who makes the discovery that she has fo
Rachael ( RachaelRexds )
Very intriguing novel!
E' davvero un peccato. Per la prima metà è appassionante. Leggi una pagina dietro l'altra nell'ansia di scoprire che succederà. Poi tutto si ferma, si annacqua e si perde. Le personalità alla fine non le distingui più, i personaggi che dovrebbero stare bene, fanno cose inspiegabili e il tutto finisce in una bolla di sapone. Messo così è una buona base per un film, ma con un buon sceneggiatore che tiri fuori le situazioni che la Jackson nn pare essere riuscita a descrivere.
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Shirley Jackson was an influential American author. A popular writer in her time, her work has received increasing attention from literary critics in recent years. She has influenced such writers as Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson.

She is best known for her dystopian short story, "The Lottery" (1948), which suggests there is a deeply unsettling underside to bucolic, smalltown Ameri
“Elizabeth, Beth, Betsy, and Bess, they all went together to find a bird's nest...” 9 likes
“It is not proven that Elizabeth's person equilibrium was set off balance by the slant of the office floor, nor could it be proven that it was Elizabeth who pushed the building off its foundations, but it is undeniable that they began to slip at about the same time.” 8 likes
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