Friday, October 21, 2016

October Book Club Selection ~ The Haunting of Hill House

At the beginning of this month my smaller book club met to discuss The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. We had decided that with the approach of Halloween we would try to pick a couple of good scary stories to read, and we started off with a classic!

The Haunting of Hill House


The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

This turned out to be my favorite kind of horror novel: subtle, with tension that slowly builds and leaves you more frightened by what is left to your imagination rather than going for big dramatic frights. The narrator of most of the story, Eleanor, is the classic unreliable narrator: a psychologically frail, sheltered, emotionally repressed young woman. It's left up to the reader to decide if what happens to the group staying in Hill House is the result of a real haunting or else the imaginings of Eleanor's increasingly unstable mind.

I really enjoyed this book! I also discovered Shirley Jackson through this selection and was happy to find a new (to me) female American author that I like. She wrote in the gothic style of Daphne du Maurier which made me so happy, as du Maurier is one of my favorite authors of all time. I adore spooky gothic stories!

Three friends showed up at my house for our discussion party. We had a great time and everyone loved the book!

Would you like to see our menu?! Here's what we had to eat!

Haunting of Hill House Party Food:

  • Crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs
  • Assorted Cheeses and Crackers
  • Crudites Platter
  • Spinach Dip (brought by Marla)
  • S'mores Bars (Marla again...thanks Marla!)
  • Caramel Apple "Nacho" platter (brought by another guest)
  • Pumpkin Pie and Mini Pumpkin Tarts
  • Kettle Corn
  • Halloween/Harvest Chex Mix
  • Black Fruits Sangria
  • Iced Tea

I only got a few pictures of the food and decorations to share. I wish I had taken more, but here's what I have. This was possibly my favorite meeting with this group yet!

It's hard to see, but the pumpkin tarts have little sugar
ghosts on top! The pie has dough cutouts of fall leaves.

Black Fruit Sangria, made with
blackberries, purple plums, muscadine grapes,
raspberries, Apothic Dark red wine, and brandy.

Pumpkin and live mum arrangement
with fairy lights. On the table are bags of
Halloween Chex Mix for the guests to take
home in cute little Day of the Dead bags!

Marla's always saying something funny!
We laugh a lot at book club!

And before I forget, special thanks to my little kitchen assistant, Marco, who "helped" me prepare the food and pies the night before our party!! He loves to sit on my shoulder while I cook. I took this selfie of the two of us hard at work in the kitchen that Saturday night!


  1. I think there was a good/crap film made too?

    1. There was, but I have no idea whether or not it is any good!

    2. I remember a spirit pointing toward tahe huge fireplace where the body was buried, and all the windows frosting up in whatshername's bedroom.

    3. Well, then, it was only loosely based on the book....none of that happened!

  2. A lovely distraction from the workaday world. Marco is an Italian name - surely he could have made you a parrot pizza.

    1. Marco loves to be involved in any cooking that I do. He also loves it when people come over--he's a social butterfly!

  3. I like the Hallowe'en theme to match the book. My daughter has invited me to accompany her as a guest to her book club group later this month, I've never been to one before so I'm looking forward to it.

    1. That's great! What are you reading?

    2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It's about two Afghan girls struggling to survive in a harsh and hostile country. A powerful book.

  4. Love the food and decorations. The tiny mums in the pumpkin is darling ! and I love the spooky hat. But best of all I adore your sou chef.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. Looks like a lovely feast, but did 4 people manage to eat it all? I belong to a book club, but there are about 8/9 of us at meetings. We have one man who is the husband of one of the ladies.

    1. My husband likes to eat, too, when he gets home from work on Sunday nights, and we send leftovers home for the other husbands!

  6. The book, the food, the company - it all sounds great! Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I like it when a book can be read in more than one way. It was a bit like that with "The Little Stranger", which could also be a ghost story... or not.

    1. It's funny you should mention The Little Stranger...that's the book we're reading now! :)

    2. Nice!! I'm looking forward to reading what you thought of it. My review from 2011 is here.

  7. Meike, I read this book months ago and ADORED it! That's why I recommended it to the group for our second "spooky" read. I was tickled to see that you liked it too! (That's my Southern U.S. vernacular for "excited and happy"!) I enjoyed your review, thanks for the link to it!!

    1. Also, the first Sarah Waters book I read was The Paying Guests, which was excellent, too!

    2. I have read and reviewed that one, too; I think it was this year, but can't remember whether you commented on my review or not. That's me and my brain these days - I really have to look things up...