Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Woman In Black A Ghost Story by Susan Hill

Arthur Kipp, a young solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of the elderly Mrs. Alice Drablow in Crythin Gifford and afterwards go through her papers at the eccentric recluse’s lonely estate, Eel Marsh House.

It is a house haunted by pitiful and painful memories and the spirit of a veiled and bonneted woman clad in rusty mourning black hell-bent on revenge. The terrifying drowning death of a child in a pony trap also repeats itself in sounds, like a record stuck in a groove, out in the salt marshes. And in the nursery an abandoned rocking chair sits surrounded by toys.

As he sorts through Mrs. Drablow’s papers, Mr. Kipp finds letters telling of an illegitimate child unwillingly given up for adoption. And whenever the dreaded apparition of the woman in black is seen locals know that a child is sure to die.

The old-fashioned style of this little novel perfectly captures the ghost stories of the Victorian and Edwardian era, though if you are unfamiliar with or don’t care for those then you might find it rather slow and difficult to get through. Also, if you have seen the movie first and liked it, you might be disappointed with the original book. The movie does take some liberties with the story and also develops the characters to a greater extent, and it may make the pacing of the book seem even slower if you come to it afterwards.

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