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The Man in the Picture

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  4,544 ratings  ·  620 reviews
An extraordinary ghost story from a modern master. 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 scene, instead of imitating life, has the ...more
Hardcover, 145 pages
Published September 4th 2008 by Harry N. Abrams (first published October 11th 2007)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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Bionic Jean
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
Delee
I picked up this little gem of a novella about 2 years ago- for $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...

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

On a cold winter's night, Oliver visits his old Cambridge college professor- The
...more
Brenda
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a long ago student of Professor Theo Parmitter, Oliver had taken to visiting his old friend in his apartment at Cambridge whenever he was in town. On this particular visit, Theo decided he wanted to tell Oliver the story of the old Venetian painting which was on his wall and had been in his possession for decades. The painting was an eerie and mysterious vision of revellers at a carnival, many of them wearing masks. The story Theo told and the events which had occurred caused profound unease ...more
Maciek
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
...more
Mark
Oct 16, 2013 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
...more
Blair
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 - dep ...more
James
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan Hills' The Man in The Picture' (2007) - is on the one hand a safe, somewhat predictable, almost pedestrian, contemporary take on the Edwardian/Victorian ghost story - that Hill has so successfully done so many times before ('The Woman in Black' et al).

But, all of that notwithstanding ... this is the kind of story that Hill tells so very well and to such great effect.

'The Man in The Picture' is a deeply satisfying and chilling page turner - this time in the almost perfect settings of Cambri
...more
Jeanette
This was excellent, much more than the 3 star would imply. It's 3.5 stars. The reason I didn't go for 4, was because of the ending. Up until that portion of the last 3 pages, it was fully 4 stars.

Why? Because of the mood it set and the depth of the creepiness. The descriptive language and sinuous twisting grasp of malice that just entwined. Not only you, the reader, either.

For some reason the length of this novella heightened the effect, did not lessen it. It's a one sitting goose bumps and ha
...more
Cheryl
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Deb
Oct 09, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spooky-stories
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lata
Dec 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: x2016-read, auth-f
This is a small book, and a quick read. The story is fairly enjoyable, though I did not find it scary.

I read the hardcover, which is physically small, while the cover's image conveys the sense of something dark and heavy.

This felt like a Victorian novel, from its language to the dark, broody imagery and to the evil portrait. I felt like much of the story took place at night, in dark rooms, gothic locations.

...more
Melora
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars.
A fine little ghost story! Just the right thing to read on a dark, snowed-in afternoon.
Rachel
4.5/5

This story was incredibly satisfying. I wouldn't call it traditionally scary but the creepiness builds up throughout the book. If you're looking for a quick and spooky read this is definitely an excellent choice!
...more
Rosemary
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short but complete horror story that had a very traditional feel to it - shades of M.R. James with the Cambridge setting and the story-within-a-story-within-a-story. A quick and enjoyable read.
Tana 🌻 Cozyreadings
06/12/2020

I was pleasantly surprised by this one! I have read two Susan Hill books before and thought they were okay. This one however, I was completely engrossed in the story. It's very short (like her other creepy stories) and I read this very quickly in one sitting. This is my favorite Susan Hill by far! I got this from the library, but wouldn't mind getting myself a copy because I feel like this is a book I would reread.
...more
Paul
Oct 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Angela
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, ghost
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
...more
✟Roxanne✟(Death by Book 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 w ...more
Alex (The Bookubus)
3.5 stars

This is a story about a painting of a Venetian carnival, its history and its owners over the years. It’s a very mysterious painting... You could say it has a life of its own...

Personally I would call this a supernatural story rather than specifically a ghost story but either way it's a great story.

Hill's writing is very engaging and has all the suspense and underlying dread that you could want. I particularly liked how the story is told through different characters.

My only qualm with it
...more
Dawn
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 (& which i
...more
Kit★
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
...more
Melissa
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
...more
Dorothy
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dot-sbbklist2021
I read this novella by Susan Hill in one sitting in front of a cosy fire on a cold dark winter's night. Thus I felt quite comfortable reading about the discomfort relayed from a painting of a Venice scene which dominates any room where it is hung. The painting has unique properties. While it was written many years before the action of the novel takes place, the faces of people living currently appear in the painting, accompanied by the faint smell of oil paint. The painting is purchased at an au ...more
M.L. Rayner
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Great Ghost story from the UK's queen of horror.
Short and sweet.... not to mention creepy.
...more
Jennifer
Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
...more
Suzanne
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Paula
Interesting idea for a ghost story. Written in a style to sound as if it's from earlier century. POV changes throughout enough to jar me until I could catch up and say, "Oh it must be _____ speaking/narrating." ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghosts, horror
Creepy. I like the layers of story-telling, and the initial setting in rooms at Cambridge. A perfect little ghost story.
Andreea
2.5 stars - it was very "meh".

Nothing special, nothing scary, no memorable characters.

It wasn't necessarily bad, just very bland. Don't think the style helped either.
...more
Dane Cobain
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it pretty difficult to focus on this one while I was reading it, but I don’t think that’s Susan Hill’s fault. I was just going through some stuff in life, and they stopped me from giving it my full attention, at least until about half way through, when I did get a little hooked and started enjoying it.

This is basically a quirky little historical fiction/horror hybrid which has all the hallmarks of a classic Hill tale. It was good but not great, quite a cool little novella, and a little b
...more
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That's no exuse: Book Jackets 1 6 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

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