Submitted by AxidentalMe t3_z4ph9t in books

So yesterday I randomly chose this book from my library and pretty much read it nonstop throughout the day. I couldn´t stop reading. It is very subtle from very early on in terms of its foreshadowing but one can start to notice that there is something off about Eleanor from very early on when she lies about having things she didn´t have in her apartment and keeps you interested. I loved seeing Eleanor´s descent into madness and how awkward and aggressive things become with Theodora. It´s one of the rare times when a book has genuinely made me feel so uncomfortable. Especially scenes like when they´re drinking by the fireplace and she rambles on about all her thoughts. The other characters acknowledge this amongst themselves and tell Eleanor to keep on drinking. There´s something so alienating and uncomfortable about that part which made me feel as if I was actually losing my mind. I love the narration so so much.

What did you guys think? Any small detail you noticed?



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Tayreads608 t1_ixs6ar8 wrote

Welcome to the world of Shirley Jackson. She’s utterly brilliant and exploring her bibliography is such a treat.

Hill House is one of my favorite books ever. I don’t find it scary as much as I find it both claustrophobic and unmooring. Eleanor is such a well written character. Her decent into madness is both a spectacle and wildly relatable. It’s, IMO, one of the best explorations of caretaker abuse and how both the trauma of that and the female experience leads to a devouring by the heteronormative and domestic.

If you haven’t already, check out Laura Millers introduction to the piece and keep digging into Jackson, because she’s still so relevant and so talented.

Edit: I also just want to mention that Jackson is funny and there’s a lot of humor and wit throughout her work. If you want a really good example of that check out either one of her memoirs, Life Among the Saves and Raising Demons, or The Sundial


AxidentalMe OP t1_ixsivt0 wrote

I can’t wait. I’ve been thinking about it all day and dying to discuss it with people but no one has read it. There’s something so oddly relatable to it all even though I’ve never experienced anything like it. Eleanor goes crazy but you can’t help but full fascinated by it all


Tayreads608 t1_ixsqzry wrote

Oh I know. No one I know off the internet has read it and it’s such a good book to discuss. Jackson’s writing is just so subtle and layered. I hope you enjoy the rest of her work!


BaggysMom t1_ixs59qc wrote

I love it when someone discovers this book. You should read "We Have Always Lived in the Castle", also by Shirley Jackson.

One thing I noticed about Eleanor is that she fabricates much of her life. It's as though her real life has been so mundane and boring that she has to borrow things from other people or places such as the cup of stars from the little girl in the restaurant and the stone lions from the house she passes on the way to Hill House. It makes me wonder just how miserable she is if remaining at Hill House seems better to her than going back to her old life.


AxidentalMe OP t1_ixsied3 wrote

Watching her play around with the narration was mesmerising. The segment when she keeps remarking how she hates Theodora was so good. I’ll definitely start the castle asap


WilhelmSkreem t1_ixscsqq wrote

Aw, snap. I was just coming into the comments to recommend we have always lived in the castle. Personally I think it's the better novel.


Marzipwn t1_ixwb4rm wrote

I came here to recommend this book also. WHALITC is my favourite book of all time and I tried it purely because I enjoyed Hill House so much!


thriftstorepaperback t1_ixse2yh wrote

The scene where Eleanor thought she was holding Theodora's hand freaked me right out. In general the sense of tension, claustrophobia, and anxiety was just so well done, always lurking under the surface even when the characters were trying to ignore it/make light of things. The scenes with Montague's wife were funny though.


city_anchorite t1_ixtcru2 wrote

Yess! Came here to say exactly this! That scene sticks with me because it's so realistic but also terrifying.


1treebud t1_ixuw1vk wrote

Same! I have never felt so terrified from a book passage! Unforgettable moment.


rues_hoodie666 t1_ixt18mi wrote

This quote from Haunting of Hill House gives me chills every goddamn time: “Don't do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don't do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”


jetpacktuxedo t1_ixsogcz wrote

I also just finished reading this a few weeks ago (followed by a rewatch of the almost-entirely-unrelated Netflix series of the same name). I really loved experiencing the whole thing through Eleanor's eyes without ever knowing whether the things that were happening had actually happened or not, only knowing that Eleanor had perceived them to happen that way.


birthdaygirl11 t1_ixt5nza wrote

how did you find reading it after watching the Netflix show? i started reading the book but found it challenging to treat it as completely separate, got a little confusing!


jetpacktuxedo t1_ixtfmvv wrote

It didn't bother me that much, but I watched the Netflix show about a year or so before I read the book so my memories were a little fuzzy. It made some of the early flirting with Luke a bit weird but that was about it really.


accioqueso t1_ixusyld wrote

I saw the series, read the book, and then rewatched the series. I love both. I think the show did an absolutely brilliant job taking the tones and the theme of mental illness and making a modern, “inspired by” series. Its an entirely separate entity and I didn’t care at all that it wasn’t a retelling.


ZardozSpeaks t1_ixvo61y wrote

Now watch the 1963 movie "The Haunting." I couldn't watch the series because of this film.


herbalhippie t1_iy1nb7x wrote

I watched this movie for the first time as a child, maybe 9 or 10? I was on tv one afternoon. I loved it and it has been a favorite ever since. It's what's been keeping me from watching the new series too.


ZardozSpeaks t1_iy1osyt wrote

The great things about the movie don’t seem to be part of the series. For example, you never see the ghosts in the movie. They make their presence known in other ways that are absolutely terrifying, but you never see them. Your imagination takes up the slack. The characters are brilliant. The script is a master class in subtext. There are little hints of things if you pay attention (why are there so many mirrors???). And the first ten minutes comprise one of the best movie opening sequences ever.

The series…? I lasted about 20 minutes. No mystery, the ghosts are right there, and the tropes only flew faster as I watched.

I wish I could enjoy the series. I love haunted house and ghost stories. I just can’t watch this.

It’s kinda like my relationship to Stranger Things. I got about four episodes in and had to stop. It was all stuff I’d seen before. There was nothing new. And it was done better the first time I’d seen it in the 1980s.


herbalhippie t1_iy1p7o8 wrote

Yes, that's what I love about it too, so much of it is left up to your imagination.

Here is a rabbit hole for you. Have you ever seen this? Your comment about mirrors made me remember I'd bookmarked it.


ZardozSpeaks t1_iy1phv9 wrote

Oooo! I think I may found this once and then forgot about it. Thanks… I think. Time to get my rabbit suit on. I may not be back for a while. :)


Tradnor t1_ixs9hhz wrote

Shirley Jackson is an incredible writer. I recommend We have always lived in the castle next (though I’m not sure it reaches the heights of the haunting of hill house).


VitaminDea t1_ixseyca wrote

This is one of my favorite books ever! A couple of years ago I realized I’d watched every film/television adaptation of the novel ever made and I thought to myself, hey, that probably means you should read the novel. And when I did I couldn’t put it down! Genuinely chilled me to the bone.


ACcatlady t1_ixsgxdk wrote

Minority here—I finished this last week and thought it was garbage. It was one of those “I’m already so far, might as well finish it” books. It was well written, just not captivating.


MomRa t1_ixuqwsa wrote

Agree - found myself slogging through it, and just when it started to get interesting it was over? The ending just didn't fit either.


foxykittenn t1_ixshx6y wrote

I agree, it was slow and Eleanor was kinda insufferable to me. I was so upset with the ending as well. Lackluster all around 🤷🏻‍♀️


ACcatlady t1_ixsii1c wrote

100%. Not just insufferable but also deeply uninteresting. All of the characters were so one dimensional, I didn’t care about any of them


Tilikon t1_ixuw0dk wrote

What really frustrated me was the idea it showed Eleanor's descent into madness. The reader never spends enough time with her outside and before Hill House to develop a baseline for her sanity. In all of the scenes of her nominally before the House, we see her acting somewhat erratic and childishly. That made it difficult for me to follow and believe the house was affecting her. That's just my two scents.


Tayreads608 t1_ixuxrh9 wrote

I get that complaint totally. I think the broader point is that Eleanor’s striping of identity at the hands of her mother has left her vulnerable to the house. In much the same way that people from abusive households often find themselves in abusive relationships as adults. I would actually argue that Eleanor’s journey to Hill House resembles a walk down the aisle. Its not making her mad it’s preying on the madness that’s already there simply by making her feel wanted. “Journeys end in lovers meeting”


Soxia1 t1_ixspr5p wrote

Agreed! I was bored with it.


watermelonXsandwich t1_ixux271 wrote

Agreed, I was so bored the entire time. I kept reading, because I hoped it would get better. It didn’t.


StickyCold t1_iy116t6 wrote

I was so relieved to be done with this book. I was just annoyed in end when it wouldn’t finish. How many times does someone have to say “goodbye?”


ConsistentlyPeter t1_ixsmfbj wrote

It's wonderful isn't it? Nobody does social anxiety and urban paranoia like Shirley Jackson.


brightsword t1_ixsihxd wrote

Confirmed, must read this book now.


daiLlafyn t1_ixsryqy wrote

Every now and then this book comes up, and I try to remember what I wrote last time! It was something like: If you haven't seen it, the 1963 black and white classic ("The Haunting") is extraordinary, and regularly makes best of lists - The Guardian ranks it as the 13th best horror films of all time - which if you're a horrow film is better than first place, wouldn't you say? Director Martin Scorsese placed The Haunting first on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time. I rank it as the scariest film I've ever seen. It fucking shit me up as a kid - thanks, mum. :o) Never read the book, though. Need to rectify that.


jtkforever t1_ixvkqla wrote

I read it, without the expectations from the movie/show and was utterly disappointed. It read like a Y/A story trying to be deep. Would not recommend.


daiLlafyn t1_ixvryp3 wrote

Cheers. I'll have to try it to find out what I think. It seems to be well-loved in here - but few people post about books that they find meh, so maybe that's just how this sub works. If I dislike it as well, I'll have to come back so you can say, "well, you were warned..." :o)


Tayreads608 t1_ixvt7pd wrote

I’m not sure what YA books the other poster is reading, but Jackson is a master of language. Her stories aren’t very plot heavy if that’s something you like, but if you appreciate good writing and character studies her work is up there with the best.


StickyCold t1_iy10ncj wrote

Jtkforever, I agree with you. I finished this book lastnight. I found it to be underwhelming and boring. None of the characters were likable and the reading felt clunky. I’m surprised to find how highly this book is regarded because I just don’t see it..


jtkforever t1_iy16oqu wrote

Thank you! This sub is frustrating sometimes, you can't have a differing opinion without getting downvoted.

Your description of the book is spot on, in my opinion!


Phrase-Primary t1_iy3gbov wrote

Now personally I would say this novel has always felt like a traditional dark fairy tale (in the style of the Brothers Grimm) rather than a “Y/A story“.

Its depth is, from my reading of it, kind of unique in that it is very dependent on how much is read into the subtext and how much is read into what is left unsaid. I found it more unsettling the more I reflected on it, like going down a rabbit hole or gradually seeing an unsettling pattern or figure in what appears to be an ordinary image.

However, I can see how this novel could be clunky and boring with unlikeable characters to some. I think it just depends on how much is read into what is not directly said and whether or not you can relate to the main character.


SpookyMobley t1_ixsku20 wrote

Great book, great movie, great tv show


stepmami t1_ixtcx5p wrote

her collection of short stories “the lottery and other stories” is an INCREDIBLE body of work!


pagetwenty t1_ixsyknn wrote

I was completely blown away by Jackson’s writing when reading Haunting of Hill House. It then lead me to read every book she’s written. Her autobiographical compilation (Raising Demons) is also hilarious.


rollerskateginny t1_ixt2sim wrote

Imagine randomly choosing a book and it being the Haunting of Hill House! Great luck, love that book


Crazy-Muscle-8175 t1_ixuiniv wrote

Crossing into weird territory here but the haunting of Hill house was very much like my childhood and part of my adulthood, me being the one descending into madness at times only for those around me to experience bits and pieces with me of what it is that drives me there. I am a psychotherapist now and have gotten through much of the darkness. I met a new partner and we have been sharing movies and shows that are important to us. Since this is a bit upsetting I have been wavering on suggesting we watch, since the first time I watched the series I cried my eyes out from the feeling of re-experiencing so many things. Last night and this morning it came into my mind strongly and it has popped up on my feed. Thanks for the synchronicity. Even the parts of life that are difficult need to be shared and not every fiction is what it seems.


psychdoc77 t1_ixvsg1c wrote

Love your comment. To add to the synchronicity, when I think about the show, I sometimes wonder who else is out there that experienced it in a deeply personal, jarringly intimate way to the extent that sharing a rewatch would feel like an act of vulnerability.


kornychris2016 t1_ixsi2t9 wrote

I watched the TV show and absolutely loved it. I've always planned on reading the book to compare.


Tayreads608 t1_ixsoca5 wrote

Don’t go into it thinking it’s the same and you’ll probably like it. There’s a lot of the book in the show, but it’s also vastly different.


AxidentalMe OP t1_ixsii4j wrote

Please do, you won’t regret it. It’s better than you can even imagine


Soxia1 t1_ixsq31w wrote

I read the book years ago and disliked it.

The show was amazing!

I tried reading the book again…nope. They are very different.

And yes I do enjoy reading.


HowlandSRoward t1_ixtzhs7 wrote

The opening line is one of those lines that's so great it makes me actually angry that I wasn't given the cosmic chance to maybe write it first myself.


b0xtarts t1_ixt4lyd wrote

Really!? I hated this story so much….


idlehnds t1_ixu1v0z wrote

One of my favourite books. She really has a way with words.


mambosun_ t1_ixvtmzz wrote

My daughter’s name is Theo after Theodora from that book!


herbalhippie t1_iy1nxha wrote

Oh I wish I'd though of that when having babies to name! I did get a Jessica from Dune though. lol


papercranegamer t1_ixvx4id wrote

One of my absolute favorites. It was required reading for a class for me, so I picked it up somewhat begrudgingly -- but then I also couldn't put it down!


Reader_of_Dragons t1_ixwgofa wrote

I’ve read this one and We Have Always Lived in the Castle and I definitely want to read more by her!


Imajica0921 t1_ixtj4sx wrote

Part of the genius in this book is that Jackson floats just enough information to the reader that can explain away the "hauntings" that occur: The houses foundation is not true, hence the doors close by themselves...or do they? Just about every character has an alternative motive for being there, and Eleanor is just an unreliable narrator.

I found this book on an old spinner rack in a little tourist trap store in Long Beach, Washington while on a vacation. Just me, a pot of coffee, and that book while the rain and wind howled outside the cheap motel door.

Best environment to read that book if there ever was one.


herbalhippie t1_iy1ob8z wrote

Lifelong Washingtonian here. I can feel that experience.

I take this book with me every time I go on a road trip, which admittedly isn't often. Sometimes I get lucky and get a stormy night. :)


randompointlane t1_ixtq50m wrote

How fun! We have a beach house in Long Beach so I can picture exactly the setting! Hill House was the first book I read (when I was a kid long ago) with an unreliable narrator. I remember sympathizing with Eleanor but also being very worried about her. Of the two, I think I was more spooked by We Have Always Lived in the Castle but loved them both.


mymar101 t1_ixtkdzh wrote

Read it realizing that it can be dated at times and you’ll enjoy it.


speedy960 t1_ixtnj6g wrote

I really really loved this book, I found the atmosphere and subtlety similar to Rebecca by Daphne du maurier I would 100% reccomend


ExpressCap1469 t1_ixtruiu wrote

Never read the book yet but really love the netflix series. I love it soo much, recommended to every friend that i have (my small circle)


vietnams666 t1_ixts8ax wrote

Hill house and hell house are both My favs!


Neona65 t1_ixtvvs5 wrote

I love this book. If anyone has seen the 1963 movie version of this it's pretty close to the book.

My boyfriend had never read the book or seen either of the movies. His dad gave him the original movie for his birthday and we watched it Halloween weekend. He loved it.


xalastairex t1_ixu9vwi wrote

The 1963 movie was my first "horror" movie. I was around 10/11 and hid behind the sofa because I was so creeped out but it stayed my favourite for decades.


ZardozSpeaks t1_ixvogyh wrote

I saw that movie along with "The Innocents" at an old art house theater as a young teen. Best Halloween double feature ever.


CraftyRole4567 t1_ixutedk wrote

I’m so glad you found it! I read it in middle school first because Stephen King said it was the most frightening book ever written and I completely missed that Theo is bisexual/lesbian. I missed all the sexual stuff, all the tension. I reread it maybe every 10 years and each time I understand it differently – it’s like Turn of the Screw that way. 10 years ago when I read it I thought it was actually a horror novel, and she joins the house at the end, and then someone online pointed out to me that the beginning (and end) of the book actually points away from that… so I had to re-read it again, last month! And… It feels different again. There’s just so much subtlety to it, it’s one of those books that feels different every time you go to it.


AxidentalMe OP t1_ixuu2e9 wrote

The tension between Eleanor and Theo was superb. What a fascinating dynamic, especially that chapter when Eleanor describes how much she hates her. Marvellous!


Tayreads608 t1_ixuulxh wrote

Okay, now I need to hear the reading of it where she doesn’t end up with the house and how the beginning and end tie into that.


CraftyRole4567 t1_ixuvmpr wrote

I don’t know how to do a spoiler alert! I keep seeing them but I don’t know how to do that… Then again, it’s the first paragraph. “whatever walked there, walked alone” certainly implies that whatever is haunting Hill House may seduce Eleanor to thinking she’s joining it but that she hasn’t at the end of it, that there are no trapped spirits and Hill House, there’s just the malevolence of the house itself. It actually makes for a much bleaker ending.


Tayreads608 t1_ixuyxke wrote

Yeah, I pretty much agree with that I just haven’t seen it put that way. I’ve recently been reading it as a sort of exploration of the beginning of a bad marriage. The house spends most of its time isolating Eleanor and making her feel wanted/needed (hence using her mothers voice), but even when she joins the house it will only be the same isolation and loneliness she felt when she was with her mother.

I just so genuinely love that you really never read the book the same way and it doesn’t matter how many times I read it or how many times I talk to people about it there’s always some new layer to be revealed.


CraftyRole4567 t1_ixwqepr wrote

Oh I LOVE that take on the story! I’ll think about it next time I read it :)


KylaArashi t1_ixuzj34 wrote

Oh yes it was delightfully disturbing. I thought about it long after I finished, which is the mark of a good novel


ed74siasl t1_ixv71g8 wrote

Now back up a touch and read Fall of the House of Usher, then the Shining, and then watch the Netflix show. Worthwhile.


GoldenPenman t1_ixxsw0s wrote

I just got the Haunting of Hill House from the library - I skipped the spoilers but I hear it's a fanastic book, and look forward to reading it. QQ: appropriate for a 13 year old to read. Curious if my daughter eould want to tead it?


herbalhippie t1_iy1pzaz wrote

I would absolutely have let my 13 year olds read it.