The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by dsimpson on Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:51 pm

Just thought I'd get the thread ready to go!

_________________
[http:www.danitorres.typepad.com]

dsimpson

Number of posts: 48
Registration date: 2008-12-22

View user profile http://www.danitorres.typepad.com

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by bookgazing on Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:00 pm

Hi I'm new but I just thought I'd jump in and ask who was really, really scared by this book (me) and who wasn't - it's interesting that some people find the traditional ghost story pushes all their buttons with tried and tested techniques, while some people don't get such a big impact. So which group do you fall in and what do you think made you scared/yawn at the ghost?

bookgazing

Number of posts: 14
Registration date: 2009-10-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by dsimpson on Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:44 pm

Hi Bookgazing,

So glad you are going to join us for the discussion. It's always nice to see new members!

I read this several years ago and then reread it just this past week or so. I fall somewhere in between. The first time I read this I found it a 'chilling' story. I read the majority of it over the course of one winter day and I was in the right mood and thought it was one of the best/most effective ghost stories I had come across. Usually for me it's after I've read the story and have had time to think about it and let my mind go with things that I might get a momentary scare (usually when I'm in the basement of my house doing laundry, which is scary enough on its own). This time around as I was reading the story was coming back to me, so I knew what was coming, so I mostly thought it was very atmospheric. I think Susan Hill is very good at detail and slowly revealing the story and keeping the tension up!

_________________
[http:www.danitorres.typepad.com]

dsimpson

Number of posts: 48
Registration date: 2008-12-22

View user profile http://www.danitorres.typepad.com

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by jlshall on Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:48 pm

Hi, I'm a newbie here, too. And I just recently read The Woman in Black for the first time, and really enjoyed it. And I agree that Susan Hill seems to be very good at creating tension with attention to detail and the building up of atmosphere. Also, I think one of the things I found really chilling about the book was that the ghost was so thoroughly malevolent, not just vaguely creepy. The Woman in Black was actually looking for revenge on the living – something "real" ghosts aren't supposed to do. I guess that's why I thought of it as classic "ghostly" fiction – like James's Turn of the Screw. That one scares me every time I reread it – guess I'll have to wait a couple of years and reread The Woman in Black to see if it still strikes me as really spooky.

jlshall

Number of posts: 5
Registration date: 2009-10-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by Stefanie on Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:37 pm

Unfortunately I didn't find the book scary at all. I talk about it in my blog post, but while most ghost stories scare me or at least give me chills this one didn't. I thought there was too much foreshadowing and promises of horrors and when they finally began happening I was underwhelmed. I also figured out who the ghost was and why she was haunting the house as soon as Arthur found that packet of letters. I wanted to be caught up in the tension and creepiness of the story but I just couldn't manage it.

Stefanie
Admin

Number of posts: 64
Registration date: 2008-12-22

View user profile http://somanybooksblog.com

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by Rebecca H. on Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:29 pm

I felt scared in moments, but my experience was pretty uneven. I think this book should be read in a concentrated, short period of time if possible because then it's easier to get caught up in the mood and enjoy it more. I read it in bits and pieces, and that kept me distanced from the creepiness of it.

I'll admit, though that the thought of the carriage going down in the quicksand is pretty awful, and also the scene where Spider almost drowns is terrible too. The quicksand was more frightening than the ghost, I think.

I loved the landscape descriptions. What a place it must have been! Does every edition have the illustrations my edition has? I liked those a lot.

Rebecca H.

Number of posts: 53
Registration date: 2008-12-22

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by Stefanie on Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:35 pm

I was more worried about the quicksand and poor Spider too. Spider's fate made me turn the pages faster than anything else did.

My book had illustrations as well and I liked them too.

Stefanie
Admin

Number of posts: 64
Registration date: 2008-12-22

View user profile http://somanybooksblog.com

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by jlshall on Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:27 pm

Yes, I loved the illustrations, too. I sort of wish all books had illustrations.

I did read the book in pretty much one long session. I think that helped me appreciate the foreboding atmosphere more than if I'd broken it up into several readings.

Also, I didn't really mind that I figured out what was going on, fairly early in the story. To me, ghost stories should be mysterious - but they're not the same as mysteries or whodunits, where you don't want to know the solution until the very end. I think ghost stories are more about atmosphere and setting up a feeling of general dread.

jlshall

Number of posts: 5
Registration date: 2009-10-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by bookgazing on Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:31 am

Mine didn't have illustrations, I wish it did!

I agree with Dororthy that it's better reading this book in a short space of time so the atmosphere can really take its hold on you and it's especially terrifying if you read it at night.

bookgazing

Number of posts: 14
Registration date: 2009-10-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by Rebecca H. on Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:49 am

I agree that a familiar story isn't a problem -- I think it's right that they don't have to feel new like mysteries do because the emphasis is on creepiness, not figuring the story out. We can be scared by the same thing again and again, after all. But if the story feels cliche, on the other hand, that might knock a person out of the book's atmosphere and make the book irritating rather than scary. I didn't feel that way with this one, though.

What did you think about the fact that it's a mother whose "illegitimate" child was taken from her who causes all the trouble? I wondered if Hill was giving the ghost story a feminist twist by showing what havoc this cruelty causes in the town.

Rebecca H.

Number of posts: 53
Registration date: 2008-12-22

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by jlshall on Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:11 am

Well, I felt there was a definite feminist aspect to the story, although I'm not sure Hill really intended it to be there. I think Susan Hill is one of those authors who's been raked over the coals by the feminist critics because they think her work tends to be anti-feminist.

jlshall

Number of posts: 5
Registration date: 2009-10-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by Rebecca H. on Fri Oct 30, 2009 7:37 am

Ah, I did not know that about her being seen as anti-feminist. Interesting. I suppose with this book it comes down to whether you see Jennet as unfairly wronged and getting her vengeance on the community and showing how messed up the culture is for having done what they did to her, OR whether you see Jennet as an example of angry womanhood gone entirely crazy and needing to be contained. Or other possibilities?

Rebecca H.

Number of posts: 53
Registration date: 2008-12-22

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by bookgazing on Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:39 am

Very interesting, I did not know that she had been criticised for that. I can see how things like the illegitimate baby dying could be construed by some as Hill punishing a woman who was seen to have sinned. Not sure about that, when I looked back on reading it the one thing I noticed the most was really the absence of any comment on gender, or the roles women and men played at the time.

bookgazing

Number of posts: 14
Registration date: 2009-10-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by Litlove on Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:15 am

What a great discussion! I think it was typically a grieving mother as they are culturally expected to have the most ferocious emotions. The double whammy of having her son taken away by her sister and then his death, means that she is vengeful, not just a figure of fear. But it is also a very classic move to have icons switch from their light side to their dark. The devoted mother figure is closer to the murderous harridan simply because they are both extremes.

On the other question, I wasn't frightened, but then I read this in bits, in daylight, and as an alternative to a truly harrowing book I was reading about the Holocaust. So, context is everything!

Litlove

Number of posts: 40
Registration date: 2009-01-31

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Post by jlshall on Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:25 am

One thing to think about is how much the book is like the classic ghost stories of M.R. James. One of the chapters in The Woman in Black is even titled "Whistle and I'll Come to You," – which seems like a pretty obvious reference to one of James's most famous stories, "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad." And in James's stories, the evil spirits are frequently female. So the fact that the malevolent spirit in Hill's book is a woman may just be her way of following the classic scenario.

jlshall

Number of posts: 5
Registration date: 2009-10-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum