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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley…

The Haunting of Hill House (1959)

by Shirley Jackson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,8572521,374 (3.97)1 / 629
Recently added byrena75, ordet, private library, glendalea, juliejb9, Dlc_723, Mandy.Rasmussen, mpotts, koharteh
  1. 160
    The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Nickelini)
    Nickelini: Both have an unreliable narrator, which results in an ambiguous story.
  2. 90
    The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (alalba)
  3. 60
    White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (upstairsgirl, sturlington)
    upstairsgirl: Similar in premise, less subtle but more disturbing in execution.
    sturlington: Hill House clearly inspired White Is for Witching.
  4. 61
    The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (Copperskye, Jannes)
    Jannes: Not sure if it is a coincidence, but the two perhaps best ghost stories ever written are both by women, in a genre otherwise mostly dominated by men. Both are superb explorations of death, loss, fear, and all those other elementsthat make up the good supernatural tales.… (more)
  5. 30
    The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan (blacksylph)
  6. 41
    Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories by Roald Dahl (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Dahl's is the best collection of ghost stories available, and Jackson's is the best haunted house story of all time. I think they make a nice pair (as the bishop said to the chorus girl.)
  7. 20
    The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff (amyblue)
  8. 42
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (blacksylph)
    blacksylph: The only haunted house story I've ever read that was scarier than this book.
  9. 10
    The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (andomck)
    andomck: Both are haunted house stories at their core
  10. 00
    The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (Scottneumann)
  11. 00
    Wild Fell (A Ghost Story) by Michael Rowe (ShelfMonkey)
  12. 77
    Salem's Lot by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  13. 11
    Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar (agmlll)
  14. 45
    Danse Macabre by Stephen King (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.
  15. 12
    Hell House by Richard Matheson (sturlington)
    sturlington: Inspired by The Haunting of Hill House.
  16. 78
    Carrie by Stephen King (artturnerjr, akblanchard)
    artturnerjr: Clearly influenced by The Haunting of Hill House, as is much of King's work.
    akblanchard: Carrie White has much in common with Jackson's shy, bullied heroine Eleanor Vance.
1950s (107)
Ghosts (134)

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English (249)  Japanese (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (252)
Showing 1-5 of 249 (next | show all)
The best haunted house book ever written. Atmospheric. ( )
  mpotts | Sep 20, 2018 |
Eleanor, who has had a miserable, repressed life so far, is in search of a home. A place where she is completely accepted and understood. Unfortunately, she finds it.

This is probably the creepiest book I have ever read. The power in the story does not come from ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night (although there is plenty of that). It comes from the intimate portrait Jackson gives us of Eleanor's mind as she slips into the house's embrace.

Is the house haunting her, or is she haunting the house? Perhaps both? Or is she simply going mad? Jackson lets us decide.

Yikes. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
I'll be brief, since I only just read and reviewed a paper copy of this back in June.

David Warner's narration was good, although I occasionally wished that a female narrator had been chosen instead, since he didn't always fit Eleanor and Theodora very well. From the look of things, both Audible and Kobo only have the version of this book narrated by Bernadette Dunn, which might potentially have worked better for me for that reason.

This is definitely one of those books that invites rereading. This time around, I knew what was going to happen and could therefore approach the story's events in a different way. Although I enjoyed that aspect and ended up with a new favorite interpretation of what happened, I was still frustrated with the way The Haunting of Hill House promised more of a ghost story than it actually delivered. It had some great creepy moments, and I just wanted more. Instead, I got several characters who became increasingly difficult to tolerate, and that ending.

I appreciated the ending more this time around than I did the first. In fact, taking my new interpretation of the story into account*, it was a perfectly logical and fitting ending. But I really wanted more creepy haunted house stuff, and ghosts.

* That Hill House wasn't actually haunted, but that its unsettling architecture had a tendency to affect its occupants' emotional states. And also, that Eleanor was telekinetic and Theodora was telepathic, but neither one of them had conscious control over their abilities or knew that they were using them.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 16, 2018 |
I loved the character development and banter in this novel, maybe more so than the actual ghost story itself, though it’s also solid. The main protagonist is Eleanor Vance, one of the three people a professor calls upon to help investigate paranormal behavior in an old Victorian house. The early chapter when she drives out to the place is outstanding, capturing the inner dialogue of her fantasies of freedom and running away from it all. She’s had a sheltered and troubled life, and paradoxically seems to want both solitude and the inclusiveness with family and friends. Loneliness, claustrophobia, and madness all seem to be aspects of the house, with its confusing set of rooms arranged in concentric rings, and its angles and edges never quite perpendicular or level. The resulting haunting is psychological, which Jackson develops with a certain artistry, but it never truly gripped or scared me.

One word of caution, at least for this edition: do not read Laura Miller’s introduction before reading the novel, as it includes spoilers. I generally read these as Afterwards anyway, but am glad I was warned about this one by the bookseller, and thought I would pass that along.

On travel and freedom:
“The notion of dividing her lovely journey into miles and hours was silly; she saw it, bringing her car with precision between the line on the road and the line of trees beside the road, as a passage of movements, each one new, carrying her along with them, taking her down a path of incredible novelty to a new place. The journey itself was her positive action, her destination vague, unimagined, perhaps nonexistent. She meant to savor each turn of her traveling, loving the road and the trees and the houses and the small ugly towns, teasing herself with the notion that she might take it into her head to stop just anywhere and never leave again.”

On statues, I smiled:
“’It’s none of that,’ said Theorora roundly, ‘it’s a family portrait, you sillies. Composite. Anyone would know it at once; that figure in the center, that tall, undraped – good heavens! – masculine one, that’s old Hugh, patting himself on the back because he built Hill House…’”

On nature, I liked the perspective:
“Around her the trees and wild flowers, with that oddly courteous air of natural things suddenly interrupted in their pressing occupations of growing and dying, turned towards her with attention, as though, dull and imperceptive as she was, it was still necessary for them to be gentle to a creation so unfortunate as not to be rooted in the ground, forced to go from one place to another, heart-breakingly mobile.”

Lastly this refrain, from Shakespeare’s play ‘Twelfth Night’:
“Journeys end in lovers meeting.” ( )
1 vote gbill | Sep 7, 2018 |
This is a terrific book. I had read We Have Always Lived in the Castle for the first time a few years ago and added it to the list of books I teach. Hill House will be added as well. The novel is not one filled with violence or raw horror, like The Exorcist or The Shining. It often reminded me of Macbeth, with Hill House comparable to the three witches, who see into the hidden corners of Macbeth’s soul just as Hill House sees into those of Eleanor Vance, Jackson’s protagonist.

The novel’s chills come from what C. S. Lewis called “the experience of the Numinous." Lewis reasons that if a person were told that there was a tiger in an adjoining room, he would be afraid, but that if he were told that there was a ghost in the room, his fear would be of a different quality. This is exactly the kind of fear that Jackson describes and creates so skillfully in the reader. Just as the director of The Blair Witch Project could scare viewers with bundles of sticks and odd noises, Jackson can unnerve readers with not much more than some slamming doors and suggestions about why a cold spot has manifested itself outside the door of a nursery. The book is a collection of suggestions, rather than a mystery where we learn why the ghosts do what they do or what they want. But these suggestions go a long, long way.

Ultimately, Hill House is the close examination of someone who may be losing her mind. As with James’s The Turn of the Screw, if Hill House is as terrible as we can imagine, the implications are horrifying—and if the protagonist is more terrible than her surroundings, that’s horrifying, too. Dr. Montague, the ghost-hunter, lectures the characters (and reader), “No ghosts in all the long histories of ghosts has ever hurt anyone physically. The only damage done is by the victim to himself.” How the ghosts work on Eleanor Vance resembles how Jackson works on the reader: slowly, steadily, and with increasing confidence in their powers. The damage done to Eleanor may be self-inflicted; the “damage” done to the reader (i.e. getting the creeps) is done to him or herself as well. Jackson doesn’t scream, “BOO!” or make anyone in the book do anything like that.

A good question to ask when thinking about a character is, “What does this person want?” That’s precisely the question to ask about Eleanor Vance and one that helps a reader better appreciate Jackson’s artistry in making Eleanor’s fears—and longings—so believable. This is a book to read in a single day or weekend in order to keep all of he associations percolating in one’s head.

( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 249 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jackson, Shirleyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buckley, PaulCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dowers, ShonnaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edelfeldt, IngerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, LauraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
PhotonicaCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warner, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.
Journeys end in lovers meeting.
She could not remember ever being truly happy in her adult life; her years with her mother had been built up devotedly around small guilts and small reproaches, constant weariness, and unending despair. Without ever wanting to become reserved and shy, she had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words. (chapter 1)
The house was vile. She shivered and thought, the words coming freely into her mind, Hill House is vile, it is diseased; get away from here at once. (chapter 1)
When they were silent for a moment the quiet weight of the house pressed down from all around them.
We have grown to trust blindly in our senses of balance and reason and I can see where the mind might fight wildly to preserve its own familiar stable patterns against all evidence that it was leaning sideways. (Dr. Montague, chapter 4)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Hill House is an eighty year-old mansion built by a man named Hugh Crain. The story concerns four main characters: Dr. John Montague, an investigator of the supernatural; two young women, Eleanor and Theodora; and a young man, Luke, the heir to Hill House, who is host to the others. Doctor Montague hopes to find scientific evidence of the existence of the supernatural. He rents Hill House for a summer and invites several people to stay there as his guests. Of these invitees, whom he has chosen because at one time or another they have all experienced paranormal events, only Eleanor and Theodora accept.

AR 6.3, 11 pts
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143039989, Paperback)

Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages.

Eleanor Vance has always been a loner--shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother. "She had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words." Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by "supernatural manifestations." He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague's bizarre study--along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House--a notorious estate in New England.

Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "without kindness, never meant to be lived in...."

Although Eleanor's initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural--she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone--neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures. Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Haunting of Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw. --Naomi Gesinger

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:04 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The four visitors at Hill House-- some there for knowledge, others for adventure-- are unaware that the old mansion will soon choose one of them to make its own.

» see all 12 descriptions

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