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The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story Paperback – February 1, 2002


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Paperback, February 1, 2002
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1360L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine; Fourth softcover printing edition (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567921892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567921892
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (324 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Arthur Kipps is a man touched by tragedy as we learn following his storming away in a temper from Victorian festivities, complete with ghost stories, on a snowy Christmas Eve. He is fully aware that stories of ghosts may be told in frivolous fashion, but that ghosts themselves -- real ghosts -- rarely manifest in such a mood. Ashamed of his bad behavior and wishing to explain himself and make it up to his wife, he begins to write the story of his own horrific experience following the death of Mrs. Drablow in the remote village of Crythin Gifford. A young attorney, he travels up North to represent his firm at her funeral and clear up outstanding legal affairs. The reader follows Kipps casually but is soon caught up in a fearful exploration of human despair and its consequence.

I am somewhat amazed that this Susan Hill's work has eluded my notice until now. I had never heard of her, until Elaine of Random Jottings posted about this book last year. Now, I see that I've been missing out on a wonderful writer. The real strength of The Woman in Black is Susan Hill's writing. After all, in this cynical age, what is it that can persuade us of the presence of a melancholy or malevolent ghost? We don't really believe in ghosts in any sensible, scientific way; but the words of Susan Hill are composed so as to draw up the fears of our primitive forebearers, the fears of childhood, that ultimate human fear of being alone and vulnerable to larger forces. Just as Elaine had warned me, the book is scary. It is artfully crafted and absolutely capable of raising the hair on the back of your neck.

The Woman in Black is quite as good as any of Edith Wharton's ghost stories. --myindividualtake.blogspot.com

From the Inside Flap

Set in Victorian England, Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again, plus he also hears the terrifying sounds of adult and child passengers sinking into the quicksand on a pony and trap.

Despite Kipps?s experiences he resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil hi professional duty.It is this night at Eel Marsh House that contains the greatest horror for Kipps. Rescued by Mr Daily, a friend he met on the train, Kipps discovers the reasons behind the hauntings at Eel Marsh House. The book ends with tragedy, with the woman in black exacting a final, terrible revenge. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I saw the movie before reading the book.
Brinker
A very well written story that is perfectly creepy, atmospheric, and suspenseful without being obvious.
C.E.
It's a relatively short book (around 170 pages) and a very quick read.
Z. Freeman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

147 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Hilary Miller on September 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
The most similar book I can compare this to is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Like that book, The Woman in Black starts peacefully and builds up to a frightening crescendo that will "haunt" you long after you put the book down. Another similarity in the books is the tremendous sense of atmosphere. Eel Marsh House, where the haunting takes place, is set off by itself in flat, bleak, marshy wetlands and is connected to drier land by a single causeway, which becomes completely covered by water when the tide is high. When the protagonist, the young and foolishly stubborn lawyer Arthur K., sets off to spend a few days sorting out old documents by himself in the isolated mansion, you just want to scream, "Are you crazy? Don't stay there overnight, you idiot!" I particularly liked the way the spectral happenings were presented. There is no blood, no gore, just a brooding sense of evil and mystery. I also enjoyed the relationships Arthur establishes with the kindly Samuel Daily, a local landowner, and the little dog Spider that Samuel lends to him to keep him company in his ill-advised sojourn to the haunted house. All in all, a wonderfully-written ghost story that would appeal to those who find Stephen King's more lurid and less subtle books a bit distasteful.
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Format: Paperback
I discovered this really disturbing, truly scary ghost story just in time for Halloween. Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" is probably the only other novel that terrified me as much as "The Woman In Black" by Susan Hill. Set in Victorian England, this atmospheric, supernatural tale of evil, terror and revenge sent chills down my spine on more than one occasion.

Ms. Hill begins her well-written narrative happily enough in the home of Arthur Kipps, who is surrounded by his loving wife and family for the Christmas holidays at their country home, Monk's Piece. Kipps is a full partner at a prestigious London law firm. Esme is his second wife. He lost his first love as a very young man. It is Christmas Eve and the grandchildren are all in bed. Their young parents, the Kipps' grown children, gather around the fire for a cozy ghost story session. At one point Kipps, obviously agitated, gets up, leaves the room and goes outside. He has hidden something significant about his past from his wife and family for years now - a tragically real ghost story of "haunting and evil, fear, confusion and horror" - of which he was a part. These events will certainly effect him all the days of his life. Kipps realizes that for his own peace of mind it is time to write his experience down and exorcise the demons, at last. He had hoped this inextricable part of his life would never have to be consciously recollected...but it is time. He decides that, at least during his lifetime, the tale will remain for his eyes only, and so he begins to write. He is our narrator.

At the very beginning of his career, many years before, Arthur Kipps, an energetic, idealistic junior solicitor was sent by his employer to attend the funeral of an elderly widow woman, Mrs.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By AJ on October 22, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
No neat and tidy endings here, folks. Just strap yourselves in for a great ghost story, complete with nighttime hauntings galore. This is one of those stores that might keep you up at night, just envisioning everything again and again. The author does a great job of making the reader feel like he or she is there with this young attorney - suffering through the whole thing.

Enjoy! I'm now looking forward to the movie next year - shame they couldn't have released it around Halloween...
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Beowulf on June 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I first saw this as a Broadway play, and it has been to this date the only theatre piece that gave me nightmares. I could not wait to read the novel, and just as the play was, it scared me senseless.
The novel plays heavily on atmosphere and mood. Susan Hill brings the black moors surrounding the Eel Marsh Hosue to life with vivid imagery. It's a "beautiful" setting for the frightening ghost that lives there. The characters are incredibly realistic and interesting to follow. You feel for Arthur Kipps in his trials and tribulations dealing with the Woman in Black in Eeel Marsh House. All in all, a wonderful ghost story that seems as if it should've been written by Jane Austen.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Miss Bonnie on January 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
'Yes, I had a story, a true story, a story of haunting and evil, fear and confusion, horror and tragedy.

Storyline

Arthur Kipps is a junior solicitor from London who has been asked by his employer to attend the funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow in Crythin Gifford. He must also visit her residence in order to collect any important paperwork that she may have been left behind. Arthur sees the woman in black at Mrs. Drablow's funeral and again at her residence at Eel Marsh House. She doesn't appear to be a malevolent spirit so Arthur doesn't worry too much and decides to spend the night at the house so that he can quickly finish his work and return to London. But that night, Arthur begins to hear unexplainable sounds and worries that he may have underestimated the woman in black.

'...piercing through the surface of my dreams, came the terrified whinnying of the pony and the crying and calling of that child over and over, while I stood, helpless in the mist, my feet held fast, my body pulled back, and while behind me, though I could not see, only sense her dark presence, hovered the woman.'

Thoughts
I quite enjoyed this quick little read and am glad I finally got around to reading it. I love ghost stories even though I tend to scare quite easily... and this book was no exception. The writing was beautiful and vividly creepy and definitely manages to get under your skin even though the real scary parts don't even start till the latter half of the book. The descriptions were spot on and the whole book is simply eerie even though, in thinking back to it, nothing real huge actually happens. The ghost doesn't come alive and smother him in his sleep or glue the windows shut or anything absurd like that.
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