Miniature review due to absence of Internet and wifi. In fact, only now possible because phone can – sometimes – get some reception…

Somewhat uncomfortably, I finished reading this book this morning. At about 7:30. As my 12 week old daughter lay asleep in my arms. It made the final chapter particularly unnerving!

This is so much better than the Daniel Radcliffe film! A much more evocative style, a much more effectively chilling tale and a far more engaging protagonist! Sorry, Radcliffe, but no!

As a teacher, Hill is ideal as a conscious and deliberate writer who has very carefully constructed, crafted and perhaps at times contrived and overwrought her writing to recreate the style of the nineteenth century Gothic genre and Arthur Kipps’ voice. The opening paragraph running like this

It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve. As I crossed the long entrance hall of Monk’s Piece on my way from the dining room, where we had just enjoyed the first of the happy festive meals, towards the drawing room and the fire around which my family were now assembled, I paused and then, as I often do in the course of an evening, went to the front door, opened it and stepped outside.

contains almost every grammatical structure a GCSE student needs: simple and complex and compound constructions; dependent clauses embedded with subordinate clauses; prepositional phrases; subordinating and co-ordinating conjunctions. It is a grammar geek smorgasbord! And a useful ‘hunt-the-main-verb’ teaching tool!

The main plot is followed by the film broadly (although Arthur Kipps’ family circumstances are butchered by the film): as a politely and hopeful member of a firm of solicitors, Arthur is sent to attend the funeral and organise the papers of Mrs Drablow of Eel Marsh House in a distant northern town. A woman in black appears at the funeral and Hill masterfully ratchets up the tension in a series of escalatingly horrific incidents.

Hill is a masterful writer. Her settings are wonderful and descriptions fantastic but it is the control she demonstrates which make her so powerful. At no point does she sacrifice atmosphere for gore; nor tension for explication.

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Comments
  1. […] crafting of language. And also genuinely chilling and creepy. Some notes on it can be found here and […]

  2. […] The Woman In Black is an exquisitely crafted horror; Strange Meeting is exceptional. so I am persevering with these detective novels hoping for … well something. […]

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