Life Among Savages, by Shirley Jackson ★★★★☆

Read 10/8/19 – 10/10/19

I read this on a whim. I’d only read The Haunting of Hill House and the Lottery by Jackson, but I wanted to learn more about her life and her mind. Rather than jump ahead in my TBR (which I was already ahead of schedule on), I choose to give this a shot. I am glad I did.

It’s odd going from Hill House to this because the tone is so different. This is a story about a mother and author. What we get is an inside look at her attempts to be proper and pristine in her doings, told over the course of a series of short stories originally published separately. It almost reads like a Doll House, by Henrik Ibsen, which is about a housewife who lives the life society expects of her until one day she decides she’s going to leave and make a life for herself. There are roughly 70 years between that play and this collection, and I can’t help but think the tone is deliberate and intended to convey commentary on her life.

Admittedly, there were moments where I wasn’t sure. I was maybe half way through and thought how delightful it was to read this book. It is funny and charming. She so eloquently conveys the innocence of her child and the indifference of her husband in so many things. Nevertheless, I found myself asking, what am I getting out of this? Sure I enjoy reading it, but if I am going to invest my time I want some overall substance to take away. I was ready to give it 4 stars for solid writing. I’ve since begun her collection of short stories, the Lottery and Other Stories, which includes one of the stories in this collection. It has solidified my belief that this is a commentary on life in her times.

I am not sure it is revealing enough. It leaves me wanting to know more, and I’ll probably read a more revealing biography (e.g. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life which I am very eager to read). Personally, I think I can get a better sense of her view of society in her short story collection. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading this. 4.25/5 stars.

2 Replies to “Life Among Savages, by Shirley Jackson ★★★★☆”

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