Now before I join in the blogging masses and start raving about Howard’s End is on the Landing by Susan Hill later this week (I don’t think I have witnessed a book be so praised and sort after in my time as a blogger or book blog follower its really quite something) I decided I would re-read another of Susan Hill’s books which, like The Woman in Black, falls on the cusp of modern sensation in my opinion, or its just a good excuse to read a book you can easily devour in one sitting in these dark autumnal evenings.
Susan Hill is definitely one of my favourite writers, though I still have a lot of her work to go. She wrote one of my favourite ‘sensational ghost stories’, and in fact one of my favourite novels, The Woman in Black which is a book that I recommend to anyone and everyone. This is another great ghostly tale that I would be amazed if people literally didn’t sit down and just read in one go I simply devoured the whole thing. I did wait until it was dark and the curtains were drawn just to get the perfect atmosphere. You can’t read a ghost story in daylight or on the tube, it doesn’t work unless it’s a very good one and I think this one could just about have that effect.
I am going to give you the succinct plot as I don’t want to give anything away! The tale is told on a winters night before the fire (a perfect time and place to read this book if you can) Theo a Cambridge don, is telling his former student Oliver the strange history of the picture that he has on his wall. What may appear to be a beautiful Venetian scene of partying and masks in the street has much deeper secrets and scares in its frame. Poor Oliver is unaware that having been told the tale it will change everything for him and soon the painting will be taking its effect on his own life. This painting is no ordinary painting for it has the power not only to imitate life but also to take it, forever. And the reason it does this? Well without giving anything away its revenge, simple bitter revenge. Revenge for what or whom you will have to read to find out.
Susan Hill is a superb writer who can turn her hand to anything; her crime novels are wonderful, it is however her ghost stories that I love the most. The way she sets the scene so simplistically and builds the tension so easily before you know it your spine is tingling and the hairs on your back and neck are rising. They have that gothic or Victorian feel to them that harks back to the classic era of ghost telling. Sadly I didn’t have a fire as I would have given anything for the sound and warmth of wood crackling while I was turning the pages and getting the chills, it is perfect for the time of year though.
So while all the furor of Howards End is on the Landing is going on, and believe me I am ready to get completely caught up in it myself, remember and look out for other Susan Hill works as they are all little gems and indeed Simon of Stuck-in-a-Book mentioned on Monday some of her none ghostly, none crime books are also very, very good indeed. The Beacon may actually be on my hit list in the forthcoming weeks. So how would you like to own a copy of this book?
Well you can simply leave a comment about other great ghostly books I should try this autumn and that you want to be included in the drawer and its that simple, I will let this one run until I have read HEiotL as Simon T has so wonderfully renamed it (I am guessing tomorrow as its the offical day of release and I will be unable not to just sit and read it, ok to give you moretime let’s say Friday by 8pm)! Oh and don’t forget this competition closes today at 7pm! Good luck and cant wait for the ghostly recommendations!