Once more life has been busy and I have been neglecting my poor book blog. However, a few weeks back I did read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Like Wolf Hall, this is another book that I was given in the past, but until now has sat on my bookshelves unloved and unread.

I’ve not got time to write much of a review today, but here are a few brief notes:

Year of publication:

  • 1983

Meaning of the title:

  • The title refers to the ghostly figure that haunts Eel Marsh House and the nearby market town.

Genre:

  • The Woman in Black is written in the style of a classic Gothic novel. So, we have a young, innocent, romantic protagonist; a bleak and lonely landscape; an eerie old house that is entirely cut off from the rest of society at high tide; masses of thick fog; and the sense that all of the locals know a lot more than they are willing to let on to a Johnny-come-lately visitor. Basically, there is a shed load of foreboding pervading every page.

Plot summary:

  • A junior solicitor is sent to attend to the estate of one of the firm’s late clients. We discover that said client lived as a near recluse in an isolated old house. No one in the local town wants to so much as talk about the deceased nor her house, and several folk even eagerly advise the young solicitor to have nothing to do with the case. However, despite these warnings, and despite several sightings of the Woman in Black, as well as various strange occurrences and unexplained events, the young solicitor stubbornly persists with his investigations… (Of course, you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out what happens!)

Memorable quote:

For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever.

Trivia:

  • The stage play of The Woman in Black is the second longest-running play in the history of London’s West End (Mousetrap being the longest-running play).
  • For anyone who is a fan of The Woman in Black, you might be interested to know that a sequel was published in the last couple of years. It was not written by Susan Hill, but by someone called Martyn Waites, and the sequel is called The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.

My verdict:

  • As far as it goes, this short Gothic tale is well done. There is suspense, foreboding, and a steady tightening and then slackening of the tension, etc. So, if this sounds like your kind of book, go knock yourself out. As for me, I’m glad to have finished this novella, and am glad that my next novel, Appointment in Samarra, sounds like it might be much more up my street…
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