Wednesday, 2 May 2012
The Small Hand - Susan Hill
Susan Hill is of course the creator of the pre-eminent ghost story of the last half-century, The Woman in Black. A Small Hand is also a ghost story but nowhere near so creepy and, to me anyway, not in the least scary or even surprising. It is only a novella but, even so, has been padded out to breaking point in order to make up 200 largish print pages. Some of the best bits are in the padding. For example, I loved the scenes in the mountain monastery but they in no way served the story. At the same time, so much more could have been made of Adam Snow's profession as a high-end dealer in antiquarian books. The Shakespeare First Folio device was both obvious and unbelievable at the same time. If only Hill could have found a way of linking the maguffin to the ghostly hand and its owner, she might have produced a more satisfying read.