The Haunting of Hill House

As part of my post-PhD break (okay, it’s actually just a break in between one steaming pile of PhD draft and the next, but an essential part of my cognitive dissonance is telling myself it’s a post-PhD break), I’m reading the books I’ve missed. The ones that people mention and I think “Mmmmm, should probably read that.”

In this category falls The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, she of the eponymous awards. I also have her  rather wonderful looking We Have Always Lived in the Castle in the queue. The books arrived last week and I walked around the park, reading Hill House (I was in sunshine and fresh air, so it counts as being ‘outdoorsy’.

And the opening paragraph was just divine, so controlled and evocative – Jackson made it look effortless so you know there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears in the crafting of that paragraph. I have reproduced it below, for it is fabulous.

No live organism can continue to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality: even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

*gives sigh of utter happiness*

* Quick addendum: Finished the book on the plane to Adelaide and was awesome to the end – my only complaint: Jackson uses ‘Eleanor thought concretely’ five or six times in the last 20-30 pages. *sigh of annoyance*

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