The Man in the Picture – Susan Hill

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!


Filed under Give Away, Profile Books, Review, Susan Hill

26 responses to “The Man in the Picture – Susan Hill

  1. novelinsights

    I loved this book because it’s a real old-fashioned ghost story and like you say you can read it in one sitting. In fact I seem to remember some very nice book blogger gave me a copy!

  2. Oh I would, I would! Please enter me!!

    I finally got my copy of Howard’s End last night when I got home and I can’t wait to read it!

    You should read The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (if you haven’t already) and my personal favourite – The Fall of the House of Usher by Poe. Also if you want a longer read you should try some of the original Gothic sensation novels, written in the 18th century – anything by Ann Radcliffe – The Italian is my favourite. Also The Monk by Matthew Lewis.

    • Sadly I really didnt like The Turn of the Screw which was most upsetting as I was sure it would be very me. I am going to drop into the library tonight and see if they still have The Yellow Wallpaper which I think I have read before but can’t remember it!

  3. I’ve finally got my copy of Howards End too and am planning to read it today – yayy! I’ve asked Vintage to send me a copy of The woman in black and am planning to read it at Halloween. I liked the sound of The Beacon too and want to get hold of that, and this one sounds good too. I haven’t read too many ghost stories, some of Daphne Du Maurier, particularly her short stories can be quite spooky. And the Yellow Wallpaper, as Rachel recommends is also good (but very very short).

    • It’s going to be a HEiotL month or so I think! the Beacon sounds wonderful doesnt it, not what I thought from the cover at all. Some of Daphne’s works are very, very dark indeed. Have you read the new collection Breaking Point, one of those put the fear into me!

  4. I still haven’t read any Susan Hill – I hope to read one very soon, She sounds like an author I’d love.

  5. Oooh, this one sounds awesome! I love stories that are told via a story-teller! I’m sorry, I have no ghost story recommendations to give you that you haven’t read. You are miles ahead of me in this area!

  6. The only time I could possibly read Susan Hill’s book would be in daylight. I am an utter wimp and haven’t approached “The Woman In Black” because I’m told it’s terrifying. I might be able to handle this one though because it’s short.

    I second the Yellow Wallpaper recommendation – superb.

    I’d also recommend Jonathan Falla’s “Glenfarron” a section of which is a modern retake on James’s “Turn of the Screw”.

  7. Pingback: Poor Miss Finch, She’s Been Postponed « Savidge Reads

  8. Havent read Susan Hill before but would like to try.


  9. I’ve just realised that I didn’t give you a ghostly recommendation – I’d love to win the book, so I’m back to do my best!

    You’ve already read The Seance, which would be my first choice. I am struggling to think of ghostly books which I love – most have only been OK. Have you read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. That is quite a nice mystery.

    The spookiest thing I’ve ever read is The Strain by Guillermo del Toro. I’d love to know your thoughts on it – it is very different to what you normally read, but I’m sure the first section would freak you out!

  10. I’d love to be entered – I second “The Yellow Wallpaper” recommendation and also suggest Donna Tartt’s The Secret History if you’ve not read it already. It’s brilliant and very sensational. 🙂

    • I did very much enjoy The Secret History. I wonder if The Little Friend is any good? I am definately going to have to get my hands on The Yellow Wallpaper sounds like everyones loved it!

  11. Is it the Man in the Picture up for grabs? I’d love a copy, but I’m struggling to think of any other ghost stories which I’ve read… I hear M R James’ stories are great. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, actually, that would work…

    Glad you like my renaming of HEiotL – pure laziness on my part!

  12. I concur with the multiple suggestions for ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and will go one further, and give you a link to it online!

    • Thanks Claire for the link. I have to say as yet reading online hasnt quite sold itself to me. I regularily have heated debates with Polly about e-readers and the like.

      I have managed to grab a copy of the Yellow Wallpaper and Other Works from the library so thats made me very chuffed as I get additional CPG!

  13. Pingback: So You Know I Pay Attention « Savidge Reads

  14. Pingback: Ghost Stories « Savidge Reads

  15. Pingback: Printer’s Devil Court – Susan Hill | Savidge Reads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s