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The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story by Susan…
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The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story (original 1983; edition 2012)

by Susan Hill

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,7671393,983 (3.79)398
Member:Meredy
Title:The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Vintage (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Read, never owned, SJPL
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction, suspense

Work details

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983)

  1. 50
    The Turn of the Screw, and In the Cage by Henry James (bookworm12)
  2. 51
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (kraaivrouw, Jannes)
    Jannes: No 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)
  3. 20
    The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill (jm501)
  4. 10
    The Memory Game by Nicci French (cometahalley)
  5. 10
    Waltz into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich (cometahalley)
  6. 10
    The Small Hand by Susan Hill (jm501)
  7. 10
    The Ghost Writer by John Harwood (madamlibbytellsall)
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» See also 398 mentions

English (136)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (139)
Showing 1-5 of 136 (next | show all)
I found the introductory chapter to be far too long for its purpose and the story, while only taking up 200 pages, could have been told in half that space. I thought the story was too predictable. The author was obviously trying to get the reader to experience the horror of the main character but I felt her writing skills were not up to this. I felt she was telling me the man's feelings rather than showing them to me and having me experience them.

I can see how this story would work well as a film, but having finished the story I think it would be hard for the ending to be a surprise even if one hadn't read the book.

I read the book before seeking out the film but I do not now care if I ever see the film. If you are considering reading the book in advance of watching the film I would suggest you watch the film and do not bother with the book. ( )
  pgmcc | Nov 21, 2014 |
I first heard about this story from a friend who saw the stage adaptation in London. She said it was terrifying. Because of that visceral review, I had high expectations for the book.

There are a number of very unsettling scenes, and the ending, although somewhat easy to see coming, sent chills through my spine. My only criticism is the set-up took much too long and there were a few other points where the story dragged a bit. But overall, a quick, scary read. And those unsettling scenes are the type that will linger in my mind for a very long time. ( )
  CathrynGrant | Nov 20, 2014 |
I listened to this while jogging. It's a fun, spooky, gothic story with terror, palpitations, fog, moors.....it's atmospheric, to say the least.
This is a short story. There's a lot left unsaid and unresolved. The ending is fitting and yet unexplained.
A fun story but feels a bit unfinished. ( )
  PetraBC | Oct 23, 2014 |
This story truly is the classic ghost story! The Woman in Black is one of the creepiest characters I have encountered before. The story begins when Arthur Kipps is at his home and his stepchildren are telling ghost stories. So he then decides that it is time to exorcist his own demon and write down what happened to him with his real encounter with the ghost of The Woman in Black. The story has a dark and dreary atmosphere. Something that struck me as something notable is once the tide goes up on the causeway you are basically trapped trapped at Eel Marsh House. Overall this is a vary well written story and I really enjoyed reading it. ( )
  Hpfan28 | Sep 19, 2014 |
The Basics

Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor in vague olden times (Victorian era England, I assume) who is sent out from London to deal with the very jumbled papers of the late Mrs. Drablow. He’s pretty happy about the whole affair until a ghost shows up. Sort of horror ensues.

My Thoughts

I had problems with this book. Firstly, there are people in this world who can write a first person narrative within a bygone era and sound as if they lived there themselves. And then there are those who sound as if they’re trying way too hard. Susan Hill is that second option, unfortunately. It hit me as soon as I started reading and didn’t relent at any point.

Next up, our main character. I didn’t really connect with this guy at all. Here is, I think, the crux of why. If the story had been handled in albeit a more cliche fashion, wherein Arthur is told some horrible story and remains brave in the face of it, it would’ve made more sense to me. Instead, he sees the ghost, sees the uniquely terrible expression it wears and reads it accurately. Experiences things that send him running with soiled britches. He’s even convinced there are ghosts haunting the estate and doesn’t try to placate himself with rational explanations. Then decides to go ahead anyway. This guy has no survival instinct whatsoever.

Yet when the eerie stuff starts, it’s good and eerie. That ending has a nice impact, as well. But saying, “oh, when you get to the good parts…” feels really cheap. I can’t recommend it based on a few good parts. Not to mention that any tension that could’ve been had from a mystery to be solved is wasted on the predictability of it. I had figured out what was going on at Eel Marsh House a lot quicker than Arthur did. I also foresaw that ending from about twenty pages away.

Do you like Victorian era, historical fiction? And ghost stories? Then this might be for you. I’m admittedly not that big of a ghost story fan, so that probably impacted me in the negative. As always, these reviews are just opinions based on my personal preferences.

Final Rating

2.5/5 ( )
  Nickidemus | Sep 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 136 (next | show all)
I love this style of writing... very detailed and descriptive. Although some of our students have said that they had a hard time getting through the first few chapters, I was immediately captivated.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Hillprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klingberg, OlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Pat and Charles Gardner
First words
It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve.
Quotations
But gradually I discovered for myself the truth of the axiom that a man cannot remain indefinitely in a state of active terror. Either the emotion will increase until, at the prompting of more and more dreadful events and apprehensions, he is so overcome by it that he runs away or goes mad; or he will become by slow degrees less agitated and more in possession of himself.
A man may be accused of cowardice for fleeing away from all manner of physical dangers but when things supernatural, insubstantial and inexplicable threaten not only his safety and well-being but his sanity, his innermost soul, then retreat is not a sign of weakness but the most prudent course.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Arthur Kipps in an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford-a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway-to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client. Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow's house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystyery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images-a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed in black. (96780307950215)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307745317, Paperback)

A classic ghost story: the chilling tale of a menacing specter haunting a small English town. Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford--a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway--to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow's house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images--a rocking chair in a deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most terrifying of all, a ghostly woman dressed all in black.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:26 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shutttered windows.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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