Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This has all the elements of a really fun, well paced, spooky read. I really liked the friendships and interactions among the characters, including Mrs Dudley, because of course every haunted house has to come with a creepy housekeeper. I also appreciated that this was not so much a 'horror' story, but one of suspense, mystery and the supernatural. Great for a fall weekend.

The movie? Don't even bother.

Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, and occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own . . . (back cover)

Why am I here? she thought helplessly and at once; why am I here? The gate was tall and ominous and heavy, set strongly into a stone wall which went off through the trees. Even from the car she could see the padlock and the chain that was twisted around and through the bars. Beyond the gate she could see only that the road continued, turned, shadowed on either side by the still, dark trees. pg28

All I could think of when I got a look at the place from outside was what fun it would be to stand out there and watch it burn down. pg45

They were standing by the rail of the veranda; from there they could see down the drive to the point where it turned among the trees again, and down over the soft curve of the hills to the distant small line which might have been the main highway, the road back to the cities from which they had come. Except for the wires which ran to the house from a spot among the trees, there was no evidence that Hill House belonged in any way to the rest of the world. pg49

Every door in this house swings shut when you let go of it. pg65

"What else could you call Hill House?" Luke demanded. 
"Well - disturbed, perhaps. Leprous. Sick. Any of the popular euphemisms for insanity; a deranged house is a pretty conceit. There are popular theories, however, which discount the eerie, the mysterious; there are people who will tell you that the disturbances I am calling 'psychic' are actually the result of subterranean waters, or electric currents, or hallucinations caused by polluted air; atmospheric pressure, sunspots, earth tremors all have their advocates among the skeptical. pg71

No, the menace of the supernatural is that it attacks where modern minds are weakest, where we have abandoned our protective armor of superstition and have no substitute defense. pg140

RIP reading challenge
Book #2 - check!

Gothic Challenge
Book #4 - check!


Kailana said...

I really want to read this. I enjoyed We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Lottery, so it is the next thing to read, I believe.

DesLily said...

ah yup.. on to the wish list. *sigh*.. great review!

Beth said...

I think I've read this - I'm at that point in my life where I can't remember all the books I've read! Perhaps it's worth another read...

Trish said...

Kailana - Those both sound like really good books, too. I'm adding them to my TBR list.

DesLily - I really enjoyed this! I hope you do too.

Beth - Yeah, I know what you mean. This book would be great for a reread, though.

Tracy said...

One I'd have to be in the right mood for, but I have a feeling I've seen the movie, an old one, many, many years ago, back in the late seventies. I see there is a 1963 movie, it must have been that one.

Trish said...

Yes, it's a mood kind of book. There was a '63 movie and also a '99 movie with Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta Jones. I thought it would be a decent movie - but ugh no it was awfully overdone.

Tracy said...

I'd not even heard of the 1999 movie before, but it doesn't tempt me.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I've read this one and thought Shirley Jackson was really talented. Perfect fall read for RIP VI enjoy

Trish said...

Tracy - No, don't bother.

Diane - She is extremely talented! I'll be on the lookout for more of her books.

Kate said...

I love this book! I recently discovered how wonderfully symbolic and transformative Eleanor's journey to Hill House was. I need to give this one my yearly reread sometime soon.

Also the 1999 movie had so little to do with the book that it's unreal! However I do still love it as the exterior shots representing Hill House is where I did my undergraduate study abroad :)

Trish said...

There are a number of angles to this book - I could see that it would be a good candidate for a reread.

That's very cool that you were there! I wondered if it was a real place or not.

Kayla said...

I really want to read this. I loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle and it became an instant favorite.

I hope this book lives up to my expectations.

New follower! :)