A group of three strangers are invited to a haunted house by a Doctor Montague to study the effects of paranormal activity and psychic phenomena. The...moreA group of three strangers are invited to a haunted house by a Doctor Montague to study the effects of paranormal activity and psychic phenomena. The book starts fairly slowly through the eyes of Eleanor who, up till now, has never done anything for herself and had little of a personal life after her mother's death. She's an interesting character and well-written. We immediately delve into her thoughts and her psyche; her way of talking is so abstract and with how she meditates over what she should say or did say, the reader begins to question what she is actually vocalizing.
Luke is the heir of the great Hill House, but was rather poorly developed with our only knowledge of him being that he's a rather spoiled rich guy. Theodora we know a bit more about. She's something of an artist and extremely flirtatious with Eleanor throughout the novel. Theo is a great addition to the book because she is our observer over Eleanor who, as we've seen, is prrrrooobably not to be too well trusted.
The most brilliant thing about the book is just how cleverly the hauntings are laid out. They are never presented up close or personally to any one person- except Eleanor in one bit that...well, just read it- and thus could honestly be the work of their minds in the house. The book relies on this great ambiguity between the odd layout of Hill House and the possibility of it as a haunted site.
What really bothered me, however, was the dialogue. Especially Theo's. She seems to rant more like a lunatic than even Eleanor. The way they talk just seems oddly pleasant and comical, especially when the Montague's wife joins in with Arthur, the novel turns part slapstick. And with less than two hundred pages, it felt like the terror and horror just really didn't blend well with that more comedic fashion.
I highly recommend reading the book, but don't trouble yourself for skimming the conversations in the parlor or, blech, Theo and Eleanor hanging out along the grounds(less)
This was my first bit of Joyce to read and I felt it'd be best to begin at the beginning. I honestly really liked the short portraits of people that d...moreThis was my first bit of Joyce to read and I felt it'd be best to begin at the beginning. I honestly really liked the short portraits of people that decorated his distaste for his home town. They were very well done and you definitely got a feel for how life was at the time and the types of people that these characters were without being told outright. There wasn't much narrative, as it wasn't meant to be such, but the carrying out of simple actions through a day or even just a few hours of the night would be all the glimpse you'd need into the lives of some of these people. Some stories were definitely more interesting than others and I'd almost recommend skipping from Counter-Parts to The Dead. Though A Painful Case was rightfully interesting in it's display of an old man who's life is withered by monotony and boredom almost out of necessity. So that may also be worth checking as well. The method in which he describes people is some blend of humble admiration in their youth or their simple homeliness in, what feels to be, a snarky tongue. The description of some characters, even those attending the annual ball in The Dead, represent a rather haggard bunch who have definitely seen better days before spending their years locked away inside of Dublin. In fact one of the only characters who seemed to escape that fate was one who left in a tour of Europe in A Little Cloud. Cheerfulness seems forced onto everyone's faces, usually by drink, while they would almost rather soak in their personal frustrations. It's a rather short collection and nothing is stopping you from reading it in it's entirety, but it's not really fun and, indeed, rather depressing instead.(less)