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ghost story -- England -- couple changed by house

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Aug 15, 2009, 4:42pm Top

I'm trying to identify a ghost story from a collection that's gone missing. I don't know when it was written, but it is set in the twenties/thirties in England. The story is in the form of a fireside chat, with one man telling another about the haunting experienced by some acquaintances of his.

Plot: Humorless young couple, very earnest about social issues, move into a beautiful little 18th-century country house once owned by an upper-class gentleman noted for genial worldliness. They plan many functional changes, but instead, over time, the house changes them. Eventually they return it to its previous condition and turn into the same type as the original owner, without ever being aware the house has worked upon them.

The story is notable for never having any ghostly incidents or suggestions of a ghost beyond the influence of the house itself, and is light rather than scary.

Aug 21, 2009, 2:50pm Top

Could it be The Amityville Horror By Jay Anson?

Aug 21, 2009, 3:22pm Top

Amityville is set in America (definite) and not a short story as far as I remember. I don't know where you might have read this story but I really hope you find it.

Sounds good.

Aug 21, 2009, 3:49pm Top

Could it be from Power of Darkness Tales of Terror by Edith Nesbit?

It's been a while since I read it but the story sounds familiar and that's the book that came to mind.

Amityville has lots of ghostly things happening if I remember and some people meet very violent deaths.

Edited: Sep 14, 2009, 4:53am Top

Could it be Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court by P.G. Wodehouse? That's about a very earnest young arty couple who stay at a country mansion which infects everyone who stays there with a lust for hunting. It's on Google Books: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HC-OBeh2d3sC&pg=PA1

Sep 14, 2009, 6:31pm Top

I seem to recall this story. Aren't the couple house-hunting at the beginning? Can't remember the title, but wasn't this in an anthology/collection of thriller-type short stories? Think there was also a story about a little girl who visited her light-hearted, older sister who had married a stodgy, strict religious farmer who would not allow any frivolity like small beer? He gets stuck in the greenhouse while smudging for insects with poisonous tobacco and the little girl just watches the greenhouse fill with smoke, knowing that he is too stubborn to call for help or break a window... There was also a story about a flat/apartment that was similar. This a 70's Haunting of Hill House type or Heaven in Your Hand/Norah Lofts-type book?

Sep 21, 2009, 5:35am Top

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Sep 21, 2009, 5:38am Top

I am sure that this story is included in The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories which I read last year, but unfortunately I don't remember its title.

Sep 21, 2009, 5:41am Top

I clicked on the Touchstone and it gives a list of the stories in the book - I can't remember which story it is, but one of the titles might ring a bell with you.

Edited: Sep 21, 2009, 11:56am Top

Got it: Fullcircle by John Buchan (title in full, Fullcircle: Martin Peckwether's Story). It's also part of Buchan's 1928 The Runagates Club - which is online at Gutenberg Australia. http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301381h.html#c12

Interesting: Fullcircle came out in 1928, Wodehouse's Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court in 1929. The premise is so similar that I strongly suspect the Wodehouse to be a comic pastiche of the Buchan.

Sep 26, 2009, 9:55pm Top

The story I was thinking of was Victorian Echo from Hauntings by Norah Lofts.

Edited: Sep 27, 2009, 3:25am Top

OP here.

Yes, "Fullcircle"! A delightful story, and as unlike The Amityville Horror as one can imagine. I knew it was in one of my collections, but I was unable to find it. I did own The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, but it isn't showing up in my collection, so it must have gone MIA before I catalogued everything. Mystery solved. Thanks!

I don't think I've read "The Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court," but there is another great P. G. Wodehouse haunted-house story called "Honeysuckle Cottage," about a young man (an author of hard-boiled detective stories) who inherits a cottage from his aunt, a bestselling author of saccharine romances. Not only does he suddenly find himself writing treacly love scenes, but he begins to unwillingly pursue a sweet young thing whom fate (or auntie) has dropped on his doorstep. The story can be found in the Wodehouse collection Meet Mr. Mulliner and in The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories, and was apparently a favorite of Wittgenstein's!--


As quoted on this site, this is how the haunting affects the poor young mystery writer:


He gets going on a good tough story:

“His mouth set in a grim line. Silently, like a panther he made one quick step to the desk, drew out his automatic…”

But when he flings open the door, his weapon poised:

“On the mat stood the most beautiful girl he had ever beheld… She eyed him for a moment with a saucy smile; then with a pretty, roguish look of reproof shook a dainty forefinger at him.”


Now that's a haunting!

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