Group Blog July 2017

We Have Always Lived in this Castle

Shirley’s Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House had been a surprise package for the group. So it was a bonus to be able to read her last and supposedly greatest novel. Very different in many ways to Haunting, but similarly unsettling and bristling with hostility and tension and questions of sanity/insanity.

We all spoke of the depth of character of the two sisters, their mental health and the portrayal of an outdated and deep-rooted class ‘chasm’ that simply could not be crossed.

It was interesting to discuss mob violence and how anyone’s behaviour can be swayed by a pack mentality, especially when social ‘elders’ respected by the community precipitate or fail to tackle such action.

Although ostensibly a ‘whodunnit’, most people guessed the identity of the real killer early on. The motivation however remained opaque, unlike the visits by the ‘cousin’ who merely highlighted the dysfunctionality of the family.

Peter made the point that we all draw different things from the book based upon our expectations and assumptions about the narrative, characters and what we felt the author was trying to tell us…

Hound of the Baskervilles

The most famous Sherlock Holmes mystery of all led to some unusual tangents in the discussions the great detective himself would surely have been proud of… from death metal and dog care to Victorian era writing style and Scooby Doo!

Andy arrived in a subdued mood and left greatly cheered by the discussions and a connection with mystery and suspense he had hoped for before starting the book. Whether or not the prose feels dated occupied a large part of the discussions and everyone had different viewpoints on how language evolves and some words shift sense completely.

All members remarked upon the economical and precise style of writing and the perfect reveal in the intricately pieced together plot. Why did the shoes go missing (and one return)? Who was the stranger on the moor? Did the butler do it (clue: no, he didn’t… but his missus looks right guilty…)?

It’s not possible to discuss The Hound without noting the remarkable sense of place, something that everyone enjoyed and felt drawn right into the boggy, murky, dark and dangerous depths of…