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The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin…
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The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) (original 1959; edition 2006)

by Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9702061,290 (3.97)1 / 543
Member:trivigo
Title:The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Shirley Jackson
Other authors:Laura Miller (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:read 2012, read via public library
Rating:**
Tags:Fiction, horror

Work details

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

  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)
    upstairsgirl: Similar in premise, less subtle but more disturbing in execution.
  4. 61
    The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill (coppers, 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. 40
    The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan (blacksylph)
  6. 41
    House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (blacksylph)
    blacksylph: The only haunted house story I've ever read that was scarier than this book.
  7. 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.)
  8. 20
    The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff (amyblue)
  9. 76
    Salem's Lot by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  10. 00
    The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (Scottneumann)
  11. 11
    Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar (agmlll)
  12. 45
    Danse Macabre by Stephen King (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Look here for Stephen King's take on The Haunting of Hill House.
  13. 67
    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.
  14. 02
    Hell House by Richard Matheson (sturlington)
    sturlington: Inspired by The Haunting of Hill House.
1950s (114)
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English (203)  Japanese (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (206)
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
As a self-professed lover of the Gothic, I am rather embarrassed to admit that this is the first Shirley Jackson book I've ever read. Nor have I watched the movies based on her works. As a lame defence, I can state that I'm a greater fan of 19th Century ghost and horror fiction than of its more recent manifestations. But this book, though written in 1959, is an undisputed modern classic.

The novel starts traditionally enough. Dr John Montague, a paranormal investigator, together with three willing collaborators, goes to spend a summer in the allegedly haunted Hill House, a bizarre mansion built eighty years before by an eccentric businessman. It isn't long before the house starts to live up to its reputation - doors close of their own accord, strange noises are heard during the night, ominous writings appear on the walls.

However, we soon realise that, despite the third-person narration, we are experiencing the house through the eyes and mind of one of the participants of the experiment - Eleanor, a shy, lonely and possibly disturbed young woman. In other words, Nell is the ideal candidate for the role of the proverbial unreliable narrator. Relationships start to crack faster than you can say "Big Brother". The tension mounts but it's more of the psychological than of the supernatural type. Indeed, Jackson leaves us in doubt as to whether the phenomena we've witnessed are otherworldly at all.

Did I find the novel terrifying? Not really, but that's likely because I read most of the book on a plane flight, in between safety announcements, air-hostesses peddling perfumes, drinks and scratch cards (!) and fellow passengers jostling to go to the toilet. I did feel a growing sense of unease as the novel progressed and ultimately I found the book delightfully disturbing. ( )
1 vote JosephCamilleri | Aug 30, 2016 |
It was a good for a ghost story but I have to say I was really dissapointed in the ending. It was like the author wanted to finsh the book quickly and just threw an ending together without knowing how she really wanted to end it. Yeah the ending was bad! Blahhh... ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
The haunting parts were very intense. ( )
  amcheri | Aug 22, 2016 |
"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."

As I may have mentioned before, this must be one of the most perfect opening lines in literature. And it is so befitting of the book...

Allright, I dragged my heels reading this book. Not only am I not a fan of horror, I had also had a disappointing experience with Shirley Jackson in the past which left me dismissing her other books.

However, Halloween was approaching and The Haunting of Hill House seemed to make its annual appearance on the reading lists of friends and trusted reviewers, and I guess I felt like submitting to the curiosity of wanting find out why people think it's such a great book.

Anyway, once started I found it hard to put the book down - except after sundown. No way am I reading books about haunted houses and creepy appearances and blood soaked rooms after dark - even if it is all in my head.

"NO HUMAN eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice."

But that is just it, all the horror - or in this case - terror that is described in the book left me wondering whether it was in my head or that of the young protagonist who seems to be most affected by the goings on at Hill House, where she has been invited to stay with a group of other strangers to investigate if there is any presence of the supernatural.
In a way this set up is quite fun - like an Agatha Christie mystery, the inevitable house party that ends in murder, except that there is no formula to Jackson's story. Nor is there one clear solution that will convict the guilty and grant peace of mind to the innocent. Much throughout the book it is not even clear whether there are any innocent or guilty parties. As with much else, there are rather blurred lines with respect to truth, reality, fact and the perception that ultimately leads to the terror invoked in the characters and the reader.

So, no, The Haunting of Hill House is not your usual ghost story or horror flick. It is not a gory tale of slashing and screaming but a tense psychological experience that is written so well that you can actually feel the chilly drafts, smell the moldy scents, and hear the doors falling shut.

And, yet, there is more to the story still. Jackson's characters were rather charming and there is something playful about the setting and the interaction between the house guests and the cook, whose only only concern throughout the book seems to be ensuring that her daily schedule is adhered to. It is this lighthearted attitude to the whole experiment that lends even more significance to the odd behaviour and experiences of the young woman who seems most affected by the house. Is what she describes really happening or is it only an illusion? ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
I enjoyed this.Had to re-read the ending because I thought I missed something.I didn't. I am still thinking of this one.Good story! ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shirley Jacksonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dunne, BernadetteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edelfeldt, IngerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, LauraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warner, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Leonard Brown
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.
Quotations
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.
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.
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...
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

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.

(summary from another edition)

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