Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the sole inhabitant of Eel Marsh House, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. The house stands at the end of a causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but it is not until Arthur glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to speak of the woman in black – and her terrible purpose.
The ghost story genre has not been a frequent visitor to our club, in fact the only others in ten years are The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters and Beloved by Toni Morrison. Both of these of course are much more than mere ghostly tales, but you see where we’re coming from. The Woman in Black impressed a few of us with the imagery and sparse Victorian/Gothic style writing. Hill was praised for her visual descriptions that created an atmosphere of intrigue so subtle that the reader was never sure whether the main character, Arthur Kipps, was experiencing a supernatural phenomena, subliminal suggestion or simply an over active imagination.
There was an overwhelming opinion that this was ‘not really my sort of book’ and that it was simply a yarn told for the purpose of entertaining. In fact, Ann believes Cripps himself was just spinning a tale.
Regardless, we did find ourselves entertained, both by the book and the movie starring Daniel Radcliffe as Cripps. The more than minor changes made in the screenplay gave us good material for discussion. Why the changes (particularly in the closing chapter)? Well, the cinema does like a nice tidy ending, and we believe they found it!