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The Man in the Picture (Ghost Stories)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  3,081 Ratings  ·  457 Reviews
An extraordinary ghost story from a modern master, published just in time for Halloween. In the apartment of Oliver's old professor at Cambridge, there is a painting on the wall, a mysterious depiction of masked revelers at the Venice carnival. On this cold winter's night, the old professor has decided to reveal the painting's eerie secret. The dark art of the Venetian ...more
Hardcover, 145 pages
Published October 11th 2007 by Profile Books(GB)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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I picked up this little gem of a novella about 2 years ago- for the ridiculous price of $16.50 (if you ever see how small it is you will get just how ridiculous that is)...but it was just so beautiful I couldn't seem to walk away from it. I eventually brought it home, and every so often I would pick it up, and then put it down- thinking- "no, it's not the right time."

This is one of those books that begs to be read on a dark stormy night by the fire...

 photo b85a9b31-2f38-4c38-88ce-94da619e1295_zpsda06791c.jpg

On a cold winter's night, Oliver visits his
The Man in the Picture, by Susan Hill, is a very enjoyable read on a dark winter's evening. It has echoes of earlier English ghost stories, some of which can't quite be grasped. The setting and feel created is reminiscent of M.R. James and Daphne du Maurier. The story is set in College rooms (although the university here is Cambridge, rather than M.R. James's Oxford) as well as London, and also an old country house in a remote part of the North. We have one of M.R. James's favourite devices - a ...more
Jan 06, 2014 Maciek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, gothic
The Man in the Picture is a short story which was somehow published as a separate book. Even shorter than The Woman in Black, the story - although well written - is similarly unoriginal and largely forgettable.

The picture in question is described by the main narrator, Oliver, who himself retells a story told to him by his former university tutor. The tutor is fascinated and frightened by an oil painting from his collection: in its depiction of a Venetian carnival scene, he notices a barely notic
Jan 06, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes to be chilled
Recommended to Mark by: Hope springing eternal in Susan Hill's talent
Wonderful, scary, horrendously sinister and chilled me to the bone. After the supreme disappointment I had whilst reading 'The small hand' I think Susan Hill returns to, if not quite the top of her game that she reached in 'The woman in black', then certainly pootling around just below the summit.

This story is short and swift moving. Hints and nudges in the direction of something of horror lurking in the shadows is cleverly built up. A picture, which is I suppose a common device in ghost stories
I bought this on a whim and read it in one sitting, thinking it would be just the thing for a Sunday night while tucked up in bed. I really enjoyed it, but am in two minds about how to rate it. On one hand, it was exactly the sort of thing I love - an atmospheric, compelling ghost story with plenty of deliciously chilling details. The chief narrator, known only as Oliver, recounts a strange tale told to him by a former university tutor. It concerns an oil painting in the tutor's possession - ...more
Mar 23, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man visits his old professor at Cambridge, who tells him the strange story of a painting he owns. The book's narration becomes a story within a story within a story. The pace slowly builds, adding a feeling of dread throughout the plot. Fans of M. R. James and Algernon Blackwood will enjoy this weird tale. The writing style really makes me think of those two authors. An enjoyable old-fashioned horror story.
Oct 07, 2012 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: ghost-stories
An ok ghost/gothic story read in one sitting. Not in the same claas as The Woman in Blackbut easy to read with a few nice twists. The story basically involves an eighteenth century painting of Venice; a masque taking place by the Grand Canal with lots of figures in the picture, masked and unmasked. The basis of the story is that here in the twentieth century people end up in the picture and can be seen with a look of horror on their faces. It's all good spooky stuff. Oddly this is the second boo ...more
Feb 10, 2012 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: ghost, books-i-own
The Man In The Picture is another little gem in the collection of short novels bySusan Hill, written in the ghost/horror genre. This tells the story of Oliver, who, when visiting his old tutor, Theo Parmitter, hears the chilling tale behind the acquisition and possession of a painting. This painting depicts a carnival scene in Venice, but it is a very special painting, as Oliver learns, to his cost.
I enjoyed the style adopted by the author for the telling of this story. She seems to have stepped
Oct 30, 2008 Deb rated it did not like it
Shelves: spooky-stories
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 22, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ghost-story
I enjoyed this little ghost story. The Man in the Picture is a quick read. You can complete it in one or two sessions. I think it is best read on a stormy winter night in front of the fireplace with a glass of merlot in your hand.

The first thing that came to mind when reading this story was "Twilight Zone". This is exactly the type of story that terrified me as a child while watching the famed TV show. As an adult, the story was not terrifying but the story definitely held my attention. The sto
✟ℜoxanne✟(Death by ßook Avalanche)
I'll admit that this one confused me a little which made me zone in and out every so often, so that would have affected my enjoyment. This was a short creepy read, quite original and well written but I didn't enjoy it as much as I did 'The Woman in Black'. I like a good scare but this just didn't give me the scare I was hoping for, no goosebumps and the story became too predictable towards the end. Perhaps due to it's short length it came across a little flat, however, considering how short it ...more
Nov 29, 2015 Candi rated it liked it
Shelves: horror-creepy, gothic
Review to follow
Kathy Jackson
Feb 06, 2012 Kathy Jackson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
What a catching and eerie story Ms. Hill graces us with in this novella. I must say, it was different than I had expected but also better. The story is about the above - Oliver visits Theo who decides it is time to unburdon himself of a very strange, old story. Theo purchased an old picture of a Venice carnaval that caught his eye at an auction. The painting had pretty much become an obsession with him even though it wasn't necessarily a lovely piece of art.

Theo tells how the people in the pictu
Paula Cappa
May 08, 2013 Paula Cappa rated it it was amazing
I read this story in an afternoon; it's short, 145 pages. I love Susan Hill so I already had a positive feeling going into it. And it delivered. I will say the ending was a bit predictable, but Hill put a twist on it so it worked quite well. It was not so much scary as it was haunting, ghostly, and nostalgic ... everything you'd expect from Susan Hill.
Nov 25, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Short, sweet, spooky...if you love Venice, you'll never look at it the same again. Unless, of course, Venice previously struck you as devilish and diabolical, in which case, you'll feel right at home.

Great momentum, appropriately brief--reminds me of the rhythm from some of the best HP Lovecraft short stories.
Oct 03, 2008 Betsy rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: bathroom reading
Recommended to Betsy by: Quality Paperback Book Club Review
A very short ghost story that was fairly interesting but not 'nail biting' in any way. I found the writing to be bland, the characters flat and, well, it seemed as though the author was bored with the material, thus I was too.
Oct 07, 2008 Michelle rated it it was ok
This book was not at all what I expected. I got it from a mail-order book club, and it's a very small hardcover with less than 150 pages. It wasn't scary at reminded me of an old episode of The Twilight Zone.
Jan 14, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Fantastic ghost story featuring a creepy painting, a woman scorned, and lots of unfortunate victims. It's a short, fast read. Here's how I know for a fact it was a great ghost story: I had to check under my bed for spooks, goblins, etc. while I was reading it.
Jul 10, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, horror, gothic
This book had that gothic feel that I enjoy so much, very atmospheric, however something was lacking and so many questions left unanswered. I loved The Woman in Black by the same author so will definitely give another book of hers a try.
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
Mar 15, 2015 Claire (Book Blog Bird) rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This review is also on my blog:

Woop woop! Book Club Alert!

A couple of years back, a friend of mine started up a book club. She had noticed that Amazon’s algorithms - the ones where they flash up ‘because you bought books A, B and C, you might also like books X, Y and Z’ - were funnelling her down such a narrow path that she was soon going to be in danger of reading the same book over and over for the rest of her life. Hence, the book club. The idea is that once a mon
Ingrid Fasquelle
Jan 12, 2016 Ingrid Fasquelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Née à Scarborough dans le Yorkshire en 1942, Susan Hill est l'auteure de La dame en noir, adapté au cinéma avec Daniel Radcliffe et de La Main de la nuit (L'Archipel, 2012 et 2014). Elle s'est vu décerner les prix Whitbread et Somerset Maugham.

Une fois de plus, dans ce court roman fantastique d'environ 150 pages, Susan Hill démontre toute l'étendue de son talent de conteuse. L'ombre au tableau reprend, comme précédemment La dame en noir, tous les codes du roman gothique anglais, comme seule Susa
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Amended version of the original posted 5 May 2014 on Falling Letters.


Please note: This review contains comparison to The Woman In Black and some vague spoilers for both books. Read with caution.

I did not find The Man in the Picture as frightening as the Woman in Black. There was only one chapter (Chapter 4) that really spooked me, and that was because I was so caught up in thoughts of what might happen next. I suppose that is the definition of suspense! But, scenes from The Woman in Black mad
Found this awhile back on one of my Goodwill book hunting trips and stuck it on the TBR. Decided to read it since it was Halloween time, and it was a short little book that wouldn't take long.
I really liked the feeling of the book, the atmosphere or what have you. I liked the old man, and could picture him in his apartments very easily. The imagery of the painting was easy to envision as well. Normally, I adore looking at pictures of Venice, and wish to go there myself, but after this story, I
May 10, 2013 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-ebooks
Well, I quite enjoyed it up until a certain point...

A man named Oliver visits an old college professor (& good friend) of his in Cambridge. The professor is very old, and decides to share a story with him about a disturbing, powerful painting he owns - which depicts a dark scene in Venice. The story also includes a terrible past event in Venice.

And yet despite having strange experiences, culminating in a tragic occurrence prior to his departure - which also seems linked to the picture (&
Ivonne Rovira
Jul 08, 2012 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author Susan Hill, author of the unnerving ghost tale The Woman in Black, has crafted yet another paranormal novella. This brief yarn (which lasts less than three hours in the Audible Audio Edition)asks the question, Can jealousy and loathing be transmitted through a painting? An aged Oxford don spins a Gothic tale worthy of Mrs. Radcliffe herself about a painting he bought at auction and the picture's history he heard first hand.

An engaged couple receive an ancient painting of the Venetian car
Sep 22, 2011 Sandra rated it liked it
Again another short novel by Ms. Susan Hill. And again like The Woman in Black that insistent pull toward fate. There this poor young bride was, looking at her husband’s image in the picture and what could she do? Burning it came to mind. And I must say that the story was predictable. I knew where we were going even when the professor was telling us his tale. I was not surprised when the young man started talking marriage.
But let’s go to Venice? Really, you are told about this creepy picture an
I thought I was a sucker for ghost stories, but it seems I've changed a bit since high school. I wonder how I would perceive The Ghost Stories of M.R. James if I were to read them again at this age. Or better let them untouched on the pedestal built from my childhood memories.

Maybe The Man in the Picture was not so good a story after all. The first part was captivating, I almost felt some shivers down my spine. But the second part, with the unfolding of the mystery behind the XVIII century paint
Gilda Felt
Though in book form, the story is really nothing more than a short story. A short story that is in need of some serious editing. Either that, or it was purposely written in the style of 19th century writers who were paid by the word. So much description of places, people and things. Too much description.

The idea, itself, is pretty old. Anyone who has seen the Night Gallery episode, Escape Route, could easily foresee the outcome of the story. But why it’s happening is never explained. Yes, there
Jan 05, 2013 Jean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bolstered by Hill's ingenuity when it comes to ghost stories, as well as her tastes for the classical, the story just seems to be missing something for me. Of course it is not, as other reviewers have pointed out, in The Woman in Black's league, though it tries, and in my eyes, mostly fails to meet its pacing and first person narration. In this case, the narration keeps switching, is sometimes a remembered first person narration as being told to a completely different character by someone ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Louise rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The classic horror story images are here. Educated aristocratic narrators, a castle, a cold and boring dinner with an elderly heir along with the elements of aristocratic life: servants, Cambridge University, art appreciation and travel to Italy.

I generally feel that a lot of contemporary fiction would improve through a tighter text. It's unusual for me to say this, but here is one of the few works that could improve with a more expansive text.

The author has a good plot, but we really don't know
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That's no exuse: Book Jackets 1 4 Apr 11, 2013 07:12AM  
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Susan Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1942. Her hometown was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and some short stories especially "Cockles and Mussels".

She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factor
More about Susan Hill...

Other Books in the Series

Ghost Stories (7 books)
  • The Woman in Black
  • The Mist in the Mirror
  • The Small Hand: A Ghost Story
  • Dolly
  • Printer's Devil Court
  • The Travelling Bag

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