Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

At first there was the book, then there were the films and - for some time now - you can even experience it live on stage - if you are in London that is.

However, why is it that directors, actors and obviously a wider audience are so fascinated by The Woman in Black

As far as the films and the play are concerned, my answer has to be - I don't know because I haven't seen any of it. In regards to the book, however, I know exactly what creates this fascination, although the means are not quite new and can be traced back to the era of Gothic fiction. Nevertheless, not only the gothic elements contribute to this fascination, but also the fact that this book is somewhat different from the average novel you can buy at your local bookshop nowadays; which might be entertaining, but maybe not able to pull you into its plot like this one.

The story evolves around a young lawyer - Arthur Kipps - who is sent to Eel Marsh to take care of the late Mrs Drablow's "business [...] in connection with the estate". He has never been to this place before and is quite excited. However, upon his arrival he finds that whenever he mentions the deceased or her estate, people get quiet and pretend not to know anything about it. In fact, it seems that a dark secret lies upon Eel Marsh House.

Finally Kipps finds someone who is willing to take him to the property and back. At first glance the property seems to be remote, dark, musty and a bit odd, but nothing to be scared off. Back in town, he decides to stay at the property for the time it takes to attend the business of the estate, which is frowned upon by the residents who try to talk him out of it. Nevertheless, Arthur sets off to the estate the next day to find out more about the late Mrs Drablow, who seemed to have been avoided by the residents for years. 

During his stay Arthur notices strange things in the house and gets a deeper insight into the family affairs of the late Mrs Drablow. After going through several photos and letters, Kipps is able to unlock a well hidden and tragic family secret, not knowing that something darker - which will ultimately affect him - lies beyond all this.

Title: The Woman in Black
Author: Susan Hill
ISBN: 978-0-099-28847-3

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