Stephen King Fans discussion

353 views
Other Books (Non-King) > The Haunting of Hill House

Comments Showing 1-50 of 161 (161 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3 4

message 1: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
Discuss book here! Mark any major spoilers!


message 2: by Dung Beetle (new)

Dung Beetle (dungbeetle) | 79 comments My third favorite book of all time. I recently listened to the audio version to prepare for this discussion (and was horrified by the choice of narrator). Probably the first ten times I read this book, it was the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version, so there were parts of it that were still somewhat “new” to me. It was interesting to see which parts the editors had deemed unnecessary. (Eleanor’s stop in Hillsdale, the gold-rimmed plates, etc.)
One thing that struck me very much this time around: I always thought that part of this book’s charm was in its ambiguity…now I see that there is really no ambiguity at all. Are the events caused by the house or by Eleanor? As I listened, I tried to pin everything on Eleanor, but no. It’s the house, baby.
Even after so many readings, The Haunting of Hill House can still scare me…


message 3: by Nathalie (new)

Nathalie (natjen29) Read it. Loved it. But must say that with having seen the movie beforehand (a little while ago) it does put a hold on the fun this novel would be otherwise.

I read it in one day, hard to put down when it gets its claws into you. I was definitely under the spell of Hill House.


message 4: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Finished this book yesterday. Couldn't wait for September! :) I really, really liked this book. I saw the movie beforehand a few years ago, which isn't like the book very much at all. The book was MUCH, MUCH better. There were a few points that made me scared and jumpy. I love it when a book can do that to me! :)


message 5: by Dung Beetle (new)

Dung Beetle (dungbeetle) | 79 comments Which movie? The old black and white, or that travesty with Catherine Zeta-Jones?


message 6: by Felina (new)

Felina I read Hell House a long time ago (and am re-reading now) but I've heard that the two are very similar. I've barely started Hill House and I'm finding this to be true.


message 7: by Jane (new)

Jane (shoxford) | 65 comments I really enjoyed this book and you can definitely see the influences on some of Stephen King's novels-the Marston House in Salem's Lot and the Overlook Hotel for example. Shirley Jackson is brilliant at suspense and it's what she doesn't say that really scares you, especially if you have a vivid imagination


message 8: by Bondama (last edited Sep 02, 2010 06:51AM) (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments I've read both Matheson's "Hell House" and Jackson's "Haunting of Hill House," and I truly do not see much similarity there, other than a house that is said to be haunted... I loved "Hell House" -- but it never scared me quite as much as "Hill House." Matheson goes into detail about what is haunted and why-i.e. - the scene with the crucifix for black masses.

On the surface, yes, there's a house said to be haunted, and a group of people brought in to "test" the haunting. But I think that's where the similarity ends. Jackson implies horror, and Matheson describes it.

Oh yes, Dung Beetle .... the old black and white movie is far, far superior to the crappy version made recently.


message 9: by Leshawn (new)

Leshawn | 25 comments I love how Ms Jackson is able to bring Eleanor, Luke and Theodora to life so vividly in just a few chapters!
I also love how they talk simultaneously (just like in real life) and the reader sees a clearer image because there is such depth to the dialogue.


message 10: by Nathalie (new)

Nathalie (natjen29) @ dungbeetle: I've seen both, but aren't they both considered travesties? :D


message 11: by Nathalie (new)

Nathalie (natjen29) I concur Leshawn. It never made me confused. You knew when one was talking and another was taking over, nowhere did I lose track of who was saying what.


message 12: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Dung Beetle wrote: "Which movie? The old black and white, or that travesty with Catherine Zeta-Jones?"

I didn't know there was a black and white one! I will definitely had to add that to my Netflix queue. :)


message 13: by Dung Beetle (new)

Dung Beetle (dungbeetle) | 79 comments I’ve seen both movies, years ago, and truth to tell, I don’t remember much about the 1963 version but at least it took a stab at telling the story from the book.
The newer one just goes completely off the rails. Were I Shirley Jackson, I’d spin in my grave every time someone watched it. (I do remember thinking the sets were really nice. Wrong but nice.)


message 14: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments The old black and white movie is amazing, and it's amazing BECAUSE Eleanor is played by Julie Harris, the "famous" neurotic - Believe me, she IS Eleanor!! Theodora is played by Claire Bloom, who is absolutely wonderful. The black and white movie also strongly brings out the subtext of lesbianism that Jackson wrote.


message 15: by Malloryk0422 (new)

Malloryk0422 | 5 comments I am having a heck of a time getting this book, I have to have my library get it from a different library... but I will finish it before September ends! *hopefully*


message 16: by Leshawn (new)

Leshawn | 25 comments I was wondering if the reason that Eleanor never hears her name when she is eavesdropping towards the end of the book is significant? She listens to 3 different conversations and no one says a word about her.
What do you think?


message 17: by Nathalie (new)

Nathalie (natjen29) Dung Beetle wrote: "I’ve seen both movies, years ago, and truth to tell, I don’t remember much about the 1963 version but at least it took a stab at telling the story from the book.
The newer one just goes completely ..."


I remember that. I expected slightly that the fireplace would come to life, but that really doesn't happen! And the bedpost that suddenly grabs hold of Eleanor.
Luckily the book is so much better.


message 18: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments Leshawn, that's a really, really interesting point. I've got to admit that I never noticed it. Having read a lot of Shirley Jackson, though, I would guess that it was quite deliberate!


message 19: by Leshawn (last edited Sep 08, 2010 10:49AM) (new)

Leshawn | 25 comments *****Spoiler*********

I began to wonder, Bondama, if Eleanor still existed at that point.
I thought maybe the story was taking an entirely different plot turn.
The story does speed up at the end and the spiral into the tree happens so quickly!


message 20: by Bondama (last edited Sep 08, 2010 11:13AM) (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments ********Spoiler ********

Agreed, Leshawn -- Had Eleanor simply become part of Hill House?


message 21: by Becky (last edited Sep 08, 2010 10:16AM) (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Let's remember to mark spoilers everyone... We wouldn't want anyone to have to avoid the discussion because they don't want the book spoiled for them.

Leshawn, Please mark your message 19 as a spoiler. Thanks!

And Bondama, can you please mark your message 20 as a spoiler too? Thanks!


message 22: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) *******Spoilers below******

I have to say that for myself, I wasn't as impressed with this one as I had wanted to be. All of the characters seemed so similar in the beginning - the way that they all, without knowing anything about any of the other guests or their personalities, meet and act the exact same way. They just didn't really have enough individuality for me.

And by the time they did start acting differently, I didn't know if that was their true nature coming out, or if it was the house acting on them. I was inclined to think it was the house, because they went from friendly and quirky and nice, to nasty and cruel with whiplash speed.

Leshawn, I did notice what you were saying about Eleanor not hearing her name... I was beginning to wonder if she had EVER existed at that point. I mean, she had completely made up her life story, and she was the first one to arrive, so she could have been a manifestation of the house herself...

I did like the references to the children, though... and how the group seemed to take on very childlike characteristics over time, and were described as behaving like children... it made me think that maybe the house had taken a part of the sisters' souls, and that's why they couldn't give up their claim to the house...

It's definitely a book that makes you think, and I like that, but I wanted a bit more depth, especially to the characters, and I felt that it lacked a bit in that area.


message 23: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Becky wrote: "*******Spoilers below******

I have to say that for myself, I wasn't as impressed with this one as I had wanted to be. All of the characters seemed so similar in the beginning - the way that they a..."


Becky-I totally agree with you about how the characters acted the same way.

I do have to say that even though I really enjoyed the book, I did think it was strange how everyone was SO friendly after just meeting. They were also all kind of sarcastic with each other... If that was me, I wouldn't have taken to that very lightly, but maybe that is just me :)


message 24: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Me either Jennifer... I didn't know whether I could trust that kind of reaction, you know? It just seemed weird!


message 25: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments Remember when this book was written .....A lot of the reactions to "Hill House . ." seem to be drawn from a 21st century viewpoint. One person commented earlier on a similarity to Rose Red, or whatever the name of that book was. Mind you, "Hill House" was written long before any "established" writer had ever attempted a story which embodied a building with "feelings" for lack of a better word. I'm consciously leaving out "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Poe, because even during his lifetime, most people considered ol' Edgar Allen more than a bit weird!


message 26: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I commented on the Rose Red comparison when I was about 20 pages in or so... Mainly due to the scientist wanting to research a "haunted" place, the rocks, and the family member being required...

But otherwise there weren't a lot of similarities. I recognize that Jackson had an influence on King. I wasn't saying that it was any other way... Everyone stands on the shoulders of giants in some way, taking things and making them their own.

Why should we not react to the story with a 21st century viewpoint? Those of us reading it for the first time now won't see it the same way as someone who read it when it first was published. We have different experiences and mindsets etc. That's not to say that it's not appreciated for what it is - just that we appreciate it in terms of what we know. :)


message 27: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments Of course you'd react with a 21st century viewpoint --

I think what was on my mind was a recent discussion I took part in on the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" -- there was one fellow who kept carping on about Harper Lee's "attitude" towards blacks -- in particular, Atticus Finch's housekeeper -- when she'd say something like, "Why Mr. Jim! You-all shouldn't be out there!" (or something along those lines) -- in other words, having the black housekeeper speak in a mid-20th century patois. The rest of us kept insisting to him that this was the only way Lee knew blacks. It was a different world then, as it was a different world when any "older" book was written. We can only read these books from our 21st cent. background, but at the same time, try to keep in mind the mind-set of when the book was written.

In other words, in my clumsy way, I was trying to agree with you - when you said "it just seemed weird..."-- I thought that the age of the book might have been a factor. :)


message 28: by Becky (last edited Sep 08, 2010 01:51PM) (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) *****Maybe spoilery stuff*****

Oh, I see... I was saying that the similarity of the characters' reactions and personalities seemed weird, and that definitely has to do with the age of the book, but in a different way. (Although to be fair, I would think it strange in a book written today too...)

I think that actually the age of the book makes it even stranger to me that they would all act the way they did. I'm no expert on late 50s social interaction, but I would think that it would be incredibly unlikely that 4 random people who come together by chance would all have the exact same sense of humor and personality types, which they seemed to have. One would think that at least Dr. Montague would have been of a more serious stock, you know what I mean?

It also seemed strange to me because Eleanor was described as being shy and introverted, but never displayed that. She certainly displayed a lack of self-confidence, and an almost paranoid feeling that everyone was against her at times, but even with the stranger in the beginning, she was never shy or quiet, and throughout the 1st half of the book in fact she seemed the exact opposite, outgoing and friendly and funny and whimsical...

I dunno... I guess what I'm saying is that knowing that it was written in 1959, I would have thought it would have been a bit more serious and less light-heartedly sarcastic. That's not to say that nobody was light-heartedly sarcastic then, but just that in that situation, one would think that maybe one... or two at most would be, and the others would be ready to strangle them for it. :P


message 29: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
Still waiting for my book... it's like the library has one copy!


message 30: by Leshawn (last edited Sep 09, 2010 02:29AM) (new)

Leshawn | 25 comments I agree Becky! I was entertained by the banter between the characters but it didn't seem appropriate for the location or time period that they all would have been so clever and light-hearted.


message 31: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments Becky & Leshawn -- You know, that was one of the few things that always bothered me about Hill House - the sudden change in Eleanor from an extremely shy woman to a person who more than held her own during the conversations you're referring to. Part of it starts when she's driving to Hill House -- That phrase, "journeys end in lovers' meetings" has always haunted me, because Eleanor is such a desperately lonely character. I suppose that her instant "crush" on Dr. Montague seemed like the fulfillment of a dream to her.

I would guess, judging by this book and others of Shirley Jackson's works, that her strength as a writer most definitely lies in mood and plot, rather than in characterizations, because yes, the transformation of the entire party upon entering the house, and talking to each other is very abrupt and unlikely.


message 32: by Leshawn (new)

Leshawn | 25 comments Bondama,
I did like how "journeys end in lover's meetings" kept ringing through Eleanor's mind. It was so realistic and brought her so clearly to life.
There are so many words or images or phrases that ring through my mind when the right arrangement is presented. For example, whenever I feel overwhelmed, I hear "but at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near" ("To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell) and whenever I'm rushing and trip, I hear "they trip and fall that don't go slow" (a variation on Friar Lawrence's advice to Romeo).
My mind is an echo chamber some time.


message 33: by Lonnie (new)

Lonnie Angie wrote: "Still waiting for my book... it's like the library has one copy!"

You're lucky! My library has zero, none, zilch... can you believe that?!?


message 34: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments Lonnie, I REALLY can't believe that -- Shirley Jackson's works are classics!!


message 35: by Lonnie (new)

Lonnie hard to believe isn't it? I could do the inner library loan thing but the last time I tried that I was never notified when the book arrived. So, other than buying it I didn't have any other options. Someday I hope to pick it up somewhere though.


message 36: by Bondama (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments Do, Lonnie - This small book is one of the major "building blocks" of horror and suspense today..


message 37: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
Finally just got my book... seems short!


message 38: by Steven (new)

Steven Belanger | 53 comments Leshawn wrote: "Bondama,
I did like how "journeys end in lover's meetings" kept ringing through Eleanor's mind. It was so realistic and brought her so clearly to life.
There are so many words or images or ph..."


Holy cow, Leshawn--I've never come across anyone besides myself who quoted that part of "To His Coy Mistress" at such similar moments! Awesome! Made my night! Please allow me to finish: "...And yonder all before us lie/ Deserts of vast eternity." Cool.

Okay, anyway: ******SPOILER ALERT******

I absolutely loved the b&w movie so much I bought it. In a way, Hill House is like The Overlook, in the sense that it feeds off of our weaknesses and uses them against us to either capture us as victims in its web (Hill House) or, to take it a step further, to capture as as victims in its web, but to also have us take other victims with us (The Overlook). I'd be very surprised if King didn't consciously consider this, and purposely take Hill House a step further, as described. Eleanor's feelings of Otherness (because of extreme shyness, or lesbian leanings, or whatever) are used against her just as much as Jack's paranoia and alcoholism are used against him. The people snared in the webs of these places are just as haunted as the places themselves--and they were like that before they got there.


message 39: by Leshawn (new)

Leshawn | 25 comments Steve,
Isn't it nice to find someone haunted by the same poetry that haunts you?
I completely agree that they were all haunted before they arrived at Hill House!
I enjoyed your comparison analysis between Hill House and The Overlook!


message 40: by Rich (new)

Rich Tijerina (pedestrianroadkill) I had to download a pirated version because no libraries in Utah have this book


message 41: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) That's crazy, Rich!


message 42: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
Lonnie wrote: "hard to believe isn't it? I could do the inner library loan thing but the last time I tried that I was never notified when the book arrived. So, other than buying it I didn't have any other optio..."

That really is too bad... seems like more then one person (Rich too) are having problems finding this book!


message 43: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
Just finished this book. Personally I thought it read just like a King novel. Very detailed! Loved that. I am kinda glad that I didn't see the movie(s) or that I haven't seen them in a long time. I do want to watch the movies again now.

I too wonder if it was the House or Eleanor that had the power. I was expecting at the end for maybe some rocks to hit Hill House...or that she was about to turn the car around and hit the people instead of running into a tree. Oh and the rock part, doesn't King write something similar in Carrie? Eleanor went so crazy at the end... what was her obsession to live with Theo? Do you think there was ever a ghost or Eleanor causing all the ruckus?


message 44: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
I can't find a copy of King's review of the book online... anyone else find it?


message 45: by Mary (new)

Mary | 35 comments ************SPOILERS*******SPOILERS****************

This book was a pretty quick read and there are so many directions you could go with as to what was going on in Hill House. Like so many have already said it is a story that can make you think and creep you out.

The fact that the story is centered on Eleanor, and that she has had previous poltergeist activity in her past leads me to believe that a lot of what was going on in the house was caused by Eleanor and her disturbed mental state. She seems to be a loose cannon waiting to go off and has lost all purpose in life after her mother’s death. Not to say that the house is innocent. We have plenty of clues from Dr. Montague that the house definitely has a dark history surrounding it and that the locals pretty much keep clear. Some of which might come from the way the house was designed, as explained by Dr. Montague, so that doors would shut by themselves and angles that throw you off on your location etc.

Because of Eleanor’s previous poltergeist past, I believe she is extremely susceptible to the influence of the house. The rock incident in her past seems to have been brought about by the non acceptance of her families’ neighbors, and as we get to know Eleanor better, being accepted and included is very important to her. At first she is accepted and included in everything but as Luke and Theo start to exclude Eleanor, the ghostly activities seem to increase. The only thing I see as being truly caused by the house is the cold spot and what I see as the house trying to keep Eleanor forever by causing her death as in the Library scene, and when she is actually leaving, and drives her car into a tree which does cause her death.

To me it seems the house found someone it liked and did not want to let her go. Other than that, the writing on the walls and the destruction of Theo’s room seem to be more Eleanor acting out because she is starting to be left out of Luke and Theo’s relationship. Even the childlike behavior in the characters that seems to increase as the poltergeist activity progresses could have been an influence of Eleanor herself trying to create an environment she would be comfortable in as she seems to have some sort of arrested development. The knocking on the doors in the middle of the night I’m not sure if that is Eleanor or the house, during some of which the guys were separated from the girls by being lead outside by something they saw. However, I don’t believe Eleanor was doing this consciously. It seemed to be all on a subconscious level for Eleanor. At some point however you get the feeling that she might be coming to the conclusion that she can make things happen and that she is one with the house and that she wants to stay in the house forever because the house understands and accepts her.

The one thing that is still puzzling me is why Mrs. Montague and Arthur really do not experience anything. The last knocking on door incident was not experienced by them at all. The only thing that happened to them was they picked up the message to send Eleanor home. Other than that they did not seem to experience any supernatural events.

I really liked the book and I’m sure there are several psychological references that I missed but it keeps you thinking about it. I’m going to have to check out some of her other writing.


message 46: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
I find something else that's makes Eleanor an interesting character is the fact that she let her mom die. She doesn't admit it... but later I read that she said after her mom came to stay with her she learned to be a light sleeper. Then one night she just can't wake up though her mom is banging on the walls??


message 47: by Angie, Constant Reader (new)

Angie | 2595 comments Mod
It's too bad... my library doesn't have a copy of either movie! BOO!


message 48: by Bondama (last edited Sep 15, 2010 01:21PM) (new)

Bondama (kerensa) | 868 comments **** Perhaps Spoilerish*****

Angie, that IS too bad, 'cause the original movie, the black and white one, is a real classic. Most of the dialogue is taken directly from the book. My favorite line from the book, though, is not as strongly emphasized in the movie. I mentioned this line when we were first considering "Hill House." After all the poltergeist knocking on the walls when Theo and Eleanor are in the bed... after it quiets down, Eleanor suddenly thinks, when she sees Theo across the room "Whose hand was I holding?" That line will haunt me for the rest of my life!


message 49: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) That is a great line, Bondama. Probably the best part of the book. :)


message 50: by Rich (new)

Rich Tijerina (pedestrianroadkill) i can e-mail whoever can't find it a pdf file of the book. I don't think my bookstores here carry it.


« previous 1 3 4
back to top