My Review of The Small Hand by Susan Hill
I’m still editing my second novel, but took time out of my schedule to read this story over the holidays:
Susan Hill wrote The Woman In Black. I did not know that. I had the crap scared out of me when I saw it in the theatre. My daughter and I clinging to each other, eyelids slit, trying to watch but not see. You know what I mean. As I was perusing the library books available to me I ran across The Woman in Black and this other story, The Small Hand. I wondered if reading one of her stories would be as heart-thumping crazy as watching one.
The Small Hand did not disappoint. The first chapter ends as follows:
As a reflex, I bent it over and we stood for a time which was out of time, my own man’s hand and the very small hand held as closely together as the hand of a father and his child. But I am not a father and the small child was invisible.
The story takes place in the countryside of London during modern times. The main character, Adam Snow, is a dealer in antiquarian books and manuscripts. His occupation is reason he travels outside of London and abroad—in search of promising volumes as well as meeting with clients. In the first chapter he is lost and happens upon a house, The White House. Both home and surrounding gardens were once beautiful and magnificent. Now all is in ruin. He begins to explore until dusk and is compelled to return at a later date. He reads up on The White House and researches previous owners, trying to understand what draws him. His research leads him to a very personal discovery.
I felt the underlying story of the house creep into my head and take hold like an insistent jungle vine so that I was thinking of it at all hours, even though the book was shut and dormant. The author has a way to weasel her story into your brain so that you can’t turn it off. It’s brilliant.
What would you do if you came upon a house such as The White House? Would you explore? Would you knock on the door if you thought someone was home? Would you drive away, only to explore in your rear view mirror.
Two thumbs up (and two invisible, smaller thumbs up).