Blogmas 2019 Book Review

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

“Don’t do it. Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup
of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone
else you will never see your cup of stars again”

The Haunting of Hill House follows Eleanor Vance. Eleanor has cared for her mother for most of her life. When her mother passes away Eleanor feels that she has wasted a lot of her life and seeks something new and exciting. She receives a letter from Dr. Montague, an anthropologist who wants to scientifically prove the existence of the paranormal, inviting her to stay at Hill House.

I’ve been trying to figure out my thoughts on this book.

Going into it I thought I would have some ideas as to what it would be about as I watched ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ Netflix series and absolutely loved it.
There’s always a question of, would I have loved the series as much if I had read the book first, but to be honest I didn’t realise it was a book when I watched the series anyway.

Very quickly I realised that while some of the character names were the same – Eleanor, Luke, Theodora, Mrs Dudley, Hugh Crain, Hill House – the story itself was almost entirely different. I have since found out that the series chose to focus on the original Crain family, whilst also including the other characters.

I did genuinely enjoy the story and loved the authors writing. It very much felt like each word chosen, and each sentence constructed, was done so deliberately and with care.

Though within the ‘Horror’ genre, this isn’t an ‘in your face’ horror kind of book.
It’s clear one of the characters devolves the more time spent in Hill House. And you leave wondering, did what they think happened really happen? Perhaps I’m looking too deeply into it, or questioning too much, but I wonder how much of what happened had to do with Hill House and how much had to do with one of the characters minds. Equally, I could be absolutely right and am in the wrong for questioning it. But I think that’s what I like so much, in my mind it could really go either way.

I saw someone describe this as a Gothic Romance, and at first I was confused. I honestly couldn’t see the romance aspect between any of the characters. There was friendship, loved which turned to anger or hate, which again turned back to love however, it’s a question of whether this was familial or romantic as I’m not sure that was ever made clear – and it probably wasn’t meant to be clear, most likely another aspect which we could decide for ourselves.

When I heard ‘Gothic Romance’ I did think somewhat of Romeo and Juliet, if Romeo were a House of course. But a house doesn’t care. So perhaps it’s more of an unrequited love?

Shakespeare was quoted throughout. “Journey’s end in lovers meeting.” I had to look this up and found it’s from Twelfth Night, which I haven’t read but has suddenly skyrocketed on a list of books I want to read. As I haven’t read Twelfth Night I wondered at the quote and found this:

The meaning is that Lovers are more like twin souls separated by birth and who relentlessly seek their counterpart all their life. And when they meet, well that’s when their journey comes to an end.

I find it so interesting that this is the quote which was used throughout.

There is a distinct theme of ‘Home’ throughout the book. Dr. Montague has wife and therefore an established family and home amongst them. Luke is to one day inherit Hill House, and so had a sense of home in its ownership. Theodora, while shunning the traditional home-like values, had someone on the outside to go back to, a life to which she could return.

Eleanor had none of those things, she was lost. Help Eleanor Come Home. She was without a mother, in her mind without a family, and without a tangible home. I’m not sure she had ever felt somewhere she could be at peace and call home before Hill House.

And I suppose that once she found it, she wasn’t willing to let it go.

Clearly I keep going back and forth as to what actually occurred during this book. However, I suppose that is the consequence of an unreliable narrator. Or perhaps I just need to read it again.

Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It watches,” he added suddenly. “The house. It watches every move you make.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: