Amber's Reviews > Shirley

Shirley by Susan Scarf Merrell
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bookshelves: netgalley, fiction, mystery-thriller, read-2014, historical-fiction

This book was more literary in nature than I expected it to be and I found myself getting dragged into the story easily in the beginning. The story, however, got more confusing and vague with each passing chapter. There were many questions left unanswered and situations left up to the readers interpretation. A young couple, Rose and Fred, spend a year living with writer Shirley Jackson and her husband Stanley Hyman. Fred gets an opportunity to work under Stanley at the college nearby. Rose and Fred are fictional, but Shirley and Stanley actually existed and this book is loosely based on their lives. This living situation with Shirley and Stanley seem to slowly possess the young couple. The longer they live there the more dreamlike the writing became. Like I stated before, much of the story had a vagueness to it. Was Shirley a witch who cast spells? Did Rose become a witch also or did the house just speak to her through her dreams and in doors that creak and stick? Did the house speak to Shirley too? And what about Paula, the young college student, did Shirley and Stanley have anything to do with her disappearance long ago? I think there was promise to this book, but all the questions left standing made it fall somewhat flat for me. Whether the reader gets answers to these questions or not, one thing rings true… the living situation was toxic for Rose and Fred’s new marriage. This book was also a study of Shirley and Stanley’s dysfunctional relationship which included lots of infidelity. I am not familiar with Shirley Jackson’s novels or her husband’s work. I am also not very familiar with many of the great writers that they speak of over their dinner table and maybe those who are may enjoy this novel more than I did. This is cast as a psychological thriller and while it is that, it’s suspenseful moments come slowly and quietly.

(A copy was provided to me by Blue Rider Press via NetGalley.)



I thought I would include a picture of Shirley Jackson and one of Stanley Edgar Hyman just to put a face to the names in this book.
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Reading Progress

May 26, 2014 – Shelved
May 26, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
July 14, 2014 – Shelved as: netgalley
July 17, 2014 – Started Reading
July 17, 2014 – Shelved as: fiction
July 17, 2014 –
7.0% "just started this and i really like the writing style. it's more literary than i expected."
July 18, 2014 –
July 19, 2014 –
July 19, 2014 –
July 27, 2014 – Shelved as: mystery-thriller
July 27, 2014 – Shelved as: read-2014
July 27, 2014 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
July 27, 2014 – Finished Reading

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