The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I do not read a great many ghost stories, alhtough I did read and enjoy Kindred Spirits: The Royal Mile by Jennifer C. Wilson at the end of last year and that is reviewed here, .Susan Hill Author

I read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, because it was book of the month in my book group. Susan Hill is an English author who was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England on 5 February, 1942. Her hometown was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better in 1969 and some short stories especially Cockles and Mussels. The Woman in Black was first published in 1983.

It is the story of a lawyer, Arthur Kipps, who, recalls an experience he had as a young man, when he was sent out from his office in London to attend to the estate of a deceased client, Mrs Alice Drablow. Kipps goes to Crythin Gifford to attend the client’s funeral and to sort through her papers before returning to London.

Kipps first sees the woman in black at the funeral but does not have a chance to speak to her.  After the funeral he travels to the house that belonged to the late Mrs Drabble, Eel Marsh House, and there he sees the mysterious woman again. He also hears strange sounds through the fog on the marsh. Susan Hill Book

Notwithstanding his spooky experiences, Kipps resolves to spend the night at the house to enable him to fulfil his professional duties. During the night at Eel Marsh House Kipps experiences great horrors.

Later, Kipps discovers the reasons behind the strange goings on at Eel Marsh House. So he seizes the moment and marries his love Stella. Their union is blessed with a son. The book ends with the woman in black exacting a final, terrible revenge.

The story is neatly told starting in the present, with the main part of the tale being told in flash back and the end of the novel returning to the present day. I was surprised how much I enjoyed The Woman in Black. If you enjoy ghost stories, I highly recommend this book.

Val Penny


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