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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry…
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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1960)

by Henry Farrell

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180592,982 (3.72)30
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Showing 5 of 5
This is a super creepy book and the twist at the end and the end itself make it even creepier! The relationship between Blanche and Jane is just freaky! It very much reminded me of the book “Misery”, which was published 27 years later! A worthy entry in creepiest/scariest stories of the 20th century!

I also enjoyed the short story, "What Ever Happened to Charlotte?", though I must admit that the title made me extremely cautious before I read it! I thought, "What's next? A whole slew of "What ever happened to (fill-in-the-blank-with-a-woman's-name)?" stories by Henry Farrell?" How lame! Anyway, this is a good little story with a wicked twist at the end!

The other two short stories are also good - an actor under the gun and a man and his dinosaur egg - but it's the title story that really shines! Baby Jane Hudson is one mad dame! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | May 22, 2018 |
Listened on audio. Somehow this got picked for my classic lit book club. Personally, I don't consider it a classic. I know the movie is much more well-known. This story was just not that interesting to me. It's considered "horror", but it was not horrifying to me. Just lots of drama that was meant to be suspenseful. But I had a hard time caring what happened. The last 3 hours of the audio on Hoopla is a collection of short stories that I skipped. ( )
  Aseleener | Mar 24, 2018 |
I so enjoyed this month's horror group read. Of course I saw the film years ago and was excited to see how similar or different the film was from the book. Short answer: not very. The film pretty much follows the book (with minor changes) but the book is oh so good! It is simplistically written but Farrell expertly blurs the lines between good and evil. You think you know who the bad guys are and then the author throws you a series of curve balls that totally shift your paradigm and completely changes your opinion. Also, you know that the character of Jane was molded after and created for Bette Davis. The physical descriptions of Jane are spot on. As a bonus, there is a short story at the end of Baby Jane- this story is the inspiration for the film Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte.

Much fun and recommended reading. ( )
  enemyanniemae | Nov 27, 2014 |
"Baby Jane" Hudson was a child star on the vaudeville circuit, singing and dancing for adoring crowds. Her sister, Blanche, was always on the sidelines until they moved to Hollywood, where Blanche became a movie star and left her sister behind. Now they are shells of their former selves: Blanche is a paraplegic after a horrific car accident, and Jane is ageing badly, trying to turn back time to her glory days and resenting the time she spends looking after her sister. With little outside contact, it's only a matter of time before sanity starts to go…

I read this because I wanted to see the movie, but the book was all the library had. The front cover describes it as "chilling", which it is, but not until late Chapter 2 or maybe Chapter 3, and even then only in spurts until about halfway through the book. I was also not sure whether "chilling" was the best descriptor, as that brought to mind thoughts of Rosemary's Baby (which I have not read but sounds creepy). Nevertheless, the book proved quite suspenseful and was very cinematic; that may have been the influence of the movie, but it was very easy to imagine all of the action unfolding. It is also a good cautionary tale about unduly favouring one child over another, if you have more than one child: it affects all of them, in different ways.

I would recommend this if you like suspense novels of the 50s and 60s, can't get a copy of the movie, or have seen the movie and want to compare it with the book. From what I gather it was a fairly faithful adaptation. ( )
2 vote rabbitprincess | Jan 18, 2014 |
Please note: in this review, "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" in quotation marks refers to the novella. The title in italics refers to the movie.

The creepy, classic novella "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" is back in a new 2013 edition that also includes three short stories (two of which were previously unpublished) by Henry Farrell (1920-2006).

The movie version of Baby Jane is extraordinarily faithful to the novella. Even if you haven't seen the film, you probably know the premise: an aging, paralyzed actress, Blanche, is imprisoned by her demented sister, Jane, a forgotten child star. Farrell perfectly captures Blanche's rising terror and sense of helplessness as crazy Jane escalates her abuse. It is a potboiler, all right, but a very effective one.

The introduction by Mitch Douglas, Farrell's literary agent and close friend, is very helpful. Douglas explains that Farrell wrote "Baby Jane" because he needed the money for his beloved wife's medical bills. According to Douglas, the unexpected success of the film with Joan Crawford and Bette Davis inaugurated a whole new subgenre of horror films: "the 'psycho-biddy' movie." This subgenre revived the careers of several aging stars (including Olivia de Havilland and Tallulah Bankhead) as low-budget movies featuring deranged older women were popular in the '60s and '70s.

After "Baby Jane", Farrell wrote several "psycho-biddy" knock-off stories and screenplays. One of these stories, "What Ever Happened to Charlotte?", the inspiration for the movie Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, is included in this edition. Like the other two stories in the collection, the previously unpublished "The Debut of Larry Richards" and "First, The Egg", "Charlotte" is not as compelling as "Baby Jane". In particular, "Charlotte" is marred by a murky ending. I had to look up Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte in Wikipedia to understand what really happened at the end.

To sum up, "Baby Jane" is not required reading by any means, but it is interesting as a period piece and as a psychological sketch of captor and captive. This new edition is worthwhile because of the introduction, but the bonus stories do not add much value. ( )
  akblanchard | Nov 20, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0881847259, Paperback)

Book jacket: Baby Jane, a child star of early vaudeville, resented having to grow up in the shadow of her prettier sister Blanche Hudson, who became Hollywood's reigning love goddess. Now, some fifty years later, they are together and alone. And reality has toppled crazily into eerie fantasy. Blanche now finds she is growing old in the shadow cast by Baby Jane -- and a very sinister shadow it is.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:31 -0400)

Blanche, a famous Hollywood star, is crippled in a car accident and must be taken care of by her sister Jane, a former child star jealous of her sister's fame. As the hatred between the two sisters grows, Jane begins to torture her ailing sister.

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