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Dolly by Susan Hill
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Dolly (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Susan Hill

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999122,024 (3.22)11
Member:cetera_desunt
Title:Dolly
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Profile Books (2012), Hardcover, 192 sidor
Collections:Your library, Allt annat
Rating:***1/2
Tags:ghost stories

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Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill (2012)

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Leonora was like someone possessed. She raged against Aunt Kestrel, me, the solicitor, raged about unfairness and deceit and hinted at fraud and collusion. The house should have been hers, the estate hers, though we could not discover why she was so sure. Desire, want, getting what she believed ought to be hers – simple greed, these were what drove her, as they had driven her in childhood and, I saw now, throughout her life.

Eight-year-old cousins Edward and Leonora arrive to spend the summer at their aunt's house in the Fens, and return thirty-four years later for the reading of their aunt's will.

Despite Mrs Mullen saying that Leonora brought wickedness into the house, I think that it was already present as Edmund hears the rustling before she arrives. If Leonora had narrated the story it would be quite different, as she remembers and forgets things to suit herself, such as her mother being older than Edward's when she was two years younger, but although Edmund blames Leonora for everything and thinks that she brought what happens later on herself, I was not surprised that he is also eventually punished for what he did.

The fenland surrounding the house isn't as spooky as in "The Woman in Black", and I didn't find the book at all scary. The title itself is a spoiler, and things aren't helped by Leonora and Edmund being punished in exactly the same way. ( )
  isabelx | Jul 7, 2015 |
Orphaned Edward Cayley is going to spend the summer holidays with his Aunt Kestrel at Iyot House in the Cambridgeshire fens. In order to make him feel more at home, his aunt invites Edward's cousin Leonora, who is of a similar age to Edward, to spend the summer at the house as well. But Leonora is a spoilt and wilful child, and matters come to a head on her birthday, when, instead of a doll she has wanted for years, she receives a simple, plain china doll. In her frustration and rage, she throws the doll at the fireplace, breaking it. Edward, a quiet child, wants to avoid another confrontation at all costs and disposes of the broken doll in the only way he can think of. Only years later will he need to remember those events in his childhood again.

I agree with one reviewer here that Dolly comes in parts fairly close to Susan Hill's best-known work, The Woman in Black, though I feel that the author/publisher has mislabelled the book in subtitling it a ghost story - which it clearly isn't. I thought the beginning, with its evocative and atmospheric description of the fens, was marvellous, and reminiscent of Chris Priestley's The Dead of Winter. After about a third of the way through, the atmosphere and the tension start to level off, though the sense of unease grows again towards the end. Certain events surrounding the doll are never properly explained, which is probably as it should be, but minor niggles remain, and the end is certainly unsettling.

Well worth a read if you like your fiction with a slight supernatural edge to it. ( )
  passion4reading | Jan 26, 2015 |
None of Susan Hills ghost stories have lived up to The Woman in Black for me, but this gets the closest.

Sadly, it feels like she ran out of ideas half way through and decided to end it there, rather than 'unexplained and mysterious', which I think she was going for.

3 stars is an AVERAGE score, and this is a perfectly average ghost story. Worth reading, if you're a fan of the genre and the writer. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
None of Susan Hills ghost stories have lived up to The Woman in Black for me, but this gets the closest.

Sadly, it feels like she ran out of ideas half way through and decided to end it there, rather than 'unexplained and mysterious', which I think she was going for.

3 stars is an AVERAGE score, and this is a perfectly average ghost story. Worth reading, if you're a fan of the genre and the writer. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
Two cousins spend a childhood summer with their aunt at spooky old Iyot House in the middle of the fens. One of them, shy Edward, is the narrator of the tale. The other, spoiled and wicked Leonora, unleashes a curse with her furious tantrum over a disappointing birthday present.

[Dolly: A Ghost Story] was a bit of a let-down. I’ve read [The Woman in Black] and [The Small Hand], also by Susan Hill, and both of those were much better. The trouble with [Dolly] is that, though creepy, the story just isn’t coherent. TWiB and TSH both featured not only frightening episodes, but also dark secrets from the past brought gradually to light. There’s mystery as well as horror in both books, and the creeping horror makes a kind of terrible sense. They’re a sharp contrast with [Dolly], where it’s sort of suggested that maybe Leonora is possessed, but then again maybe not, or not always, and if she is then it’s never explained what spirit possesses her. I kept waiting for the big reveal of some dreadful event from the past, but it never came. Instead the story just stumbles forward on the premise that Leonora is a horrible child and is therefore cursed.

Edward makes a somewhat insipid narrator as well, and the plot device of ‘I did this thing because I simply felt compelled to do it’ is greatly overused. ( )
  Erratic_Charmer | Jan 23, 2014 |
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Book description
Susan Hill, author of "Woman in Black", is the greatest living writer of ghost stories, and here is a perfect chiller: a story of two damaged children filled with unease, the supernatural and horror. The remoter parts of the English Fens are forlorn, lost and damp even in the height of summer. At Iyot House, a large decaying house, two young cousins, Leonora and Edward, are parked for the summer with their ageing widowed aunt and her cruel housekeeper. At first the unpleasantness and petty meannesses seem simply unpleasant, calculated to destroy Edward's equanimity. But when spoilt Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants, affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying, life destroying, consequences for everyone.
Haiku summary
"I don't want this doll,
I hate it!" "You must treat your
Toys well, child, or else ..."
(passion4reading)

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Susan Hill, author of "Woman in Black", is the greatest living writer of ghost stories, and here is a perfect chiller: a story of two damaged children filled with unease, the supernatural and horror. The remoter parts of the English Fens are forlorn, lost and damp even in the height of summer. At Iyot Lock, a large decaying house, two young cousins, Leonora and Edward are parked for the summer with their ageing spinster aunt and her cruel housekeeper. At first the unpleasantness and petty meannesses seem simply unpleasant, calculated to destroy Edward's equanimity. But when spoilt Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants, affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying, life destroying, consequences for everyone.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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