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The Woman in Black (Random House Movie Tie-In Books)


The Woman in Black (Random House Movie Tie-In Books) Cover

ISBN13: 9780307745316
ISBN10: 0307745317
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. As Mr. Bentley describes Mrs. Drablow and Eel Marsh House, Arthur feels that it “was beginning to sound like something from a Victorian novel, with a reclusive old woman having hidden a lot of ancient documents somewhere in the depths of her cluttered house” [p. 26]. In what ways is Susan Hill employing and perhaps playing with the conventions of the Victorian novel?

2. Looking out over the marshes, Arthur feels that he had “fallen under some sort of spell of the kind that certain places exude and it drew me, my imaginings, my longings, my curiosity, my whole spirit, toward itself” [p. 92]. Why is he so drawn to the marshes? Has he fallen under a spell?

3. Arthur Kipps decides to write his “ghost story” in order to exorcise it, so that he can “finally be free of it for whatever life remained for me to enjoy” [p. 18]. Does Arthur free himself from the trauma he suffered at Eel Marsh House? Why would the act of telling a deeply painful or traumatic story have such healing power?

4. Why might Hill have chosen to frame the main narrative of The Woman in Black with Arthur’s experience of spending Christmas Eve with his family, at the beginning, and contemplating his own death, at the end? What effect does this frame have on how the story is read?

5. By what means does Hill build and sustain a high level of tension and suspense throughout The Woman in Black? What are some of the novel’s most terrifying moments?

6. Arthur reflects that before the events at Eel Marsh House, he was in “a state of innocence” and that, even though he is happy now, “innocence, once lost, is lost forever” [p. 39]. In what ways was Arthur innocent before he encountered the woman in black? Why does the experience rob him of his innocence?

7. Why does Arthur ignore the many hints and warnings, as well as his own misgivings, about staying at Eel Marsh House? What is it in his character that impels him to press on? Is there some unconscious motivation or is Arthur acting rationally? Is he guilty of a kind of hubris in ignoring the warnings?

8. As a “healthy young man of sound education, reasonable intelligence and matter-of-fact inclinations” [p. 146], a man of prosaic imagination not given to flights of fancy, Arthur Kipps did not believe in ghosts. But after the strange events at Eel Marsh House, he is convinced he has indeed seen—and heard—ghosts. How does Susan Hill want readers to understand the apparently supernatural phenomena presented in the novel?

9. Why doesn’t it occur to Arthur that the curse of a child dying after every time the ghost of Jennet Humfrye is seen might apply to his own child? Are readers more aware of the dangers Arthur faces than he is?

10. What is the significance of Arthur associating the sounds he hears coming from the nursery with pleasant sounds and feelings from his own childhood?

11. Why would the dreadful experience of the pony and trap, along with driver, mother, and child, need to be repeated in what Arthur describes as “some dimension other than the normal, present one”? [p. 146]. What purpose would this ghostly reenactment serve?

12. In what sense is Jennet a victim of the social and religious conventions of her time? How much sympathy does she elicit?

13. While he’s recuperating at Mr. Daily’s, Arthur observes a robin on the balustrade outside his widow and watches it with a feeling of great absorption and contentment. Before coming to Crythin Gifford, Arthur says that he would “never have been able to concentrate on such an ordinary thing so completely but would have been restless to be up and off, doing this or that busily” [p. 156]. Why would the terrible events at Eel Marsh House have this positive effect on Arthur? In what ways have those events changed him?

(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit

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Eden, January 27, 2012 (view all comments by Eden)
Arthur Kips is a young attorney who is sent to a client's funeral. Then he is to sort out her papers and come back. But he realizes sorting out her papers will take longer than he thought, as it seems the woman kept everything.
But Arthur soon finds something very strange with the house. He keeps hearing noises and seeing a woman dressed in black. His stay in the house leads to terrifying events that he never forgets.

Honestly, the book started out slow and at first I wasn't much into the style of writing. But as the book progressed, the story became much more interesting and I ended up really liking the style of writing.
I think this is supposed to be a horror book, but I didn't really find it all that scary. Some parts were definitely intense, though. The story felt to me like a mystery, with some paranormal activity thrown in. I love mysteries and paranormal stuff, so that was okay with me. There was really so much Arthur Kip didn't know about the house, or the client and no one in the town wanted to speak of it. Through his experiences and some papers he found at the house, he does eventually piece together some of the things that happened and learn more about the family who lived there. And at times, the book was hard to put down because I wanted to know about the family and why the haunting was going on there.

Although I'm a bit disappointed that it wasn't really scary, I still think the book is quite good and it kept me interested the whole time I read it. It has a good story and is well-written.
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Product Details

Hill, Susan
Vintage Books
Horror - General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 x 5.17 x 0.56 in 0.4 lb

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Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Novelization
Fiction and Poetry » Horror » General
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The Woman in Black (Random House Movie Tie-In Books) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 176 pages Vintage Books - English 9780307745316 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Atmospheric, dreary, hallucinatory. This is a story told with an English sensibility of calmness set against a backdrop of impending horror. You can see it coming, but logic tells you it can't be real. No blood, no gore, just terrifying imagery and psychological shivers. However, the 2012 movie starring Daniel Radcliffe... not remotely scary or entertaining.

"Review" by , "A rattling good yarn, the sort that chills the mind as well as the spine." The Guardian

"Review" by , "Excellent...magnificently eerie...compulsive reading."
"Review" by , "The most brilliantly effective spine chiller you will ever encounter."
"Review" by , "[A] highly efficient chiller....Nerve shredding."
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