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Book 7

  1. Amis, Martin — London Fields (471 pages)
  2. Morpurgo, Michael — War Horse (182 pages)
  3. Winterson, Jeanette — Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (177 pages)
  4. Robinson, Bruce — Paranoia in the Launderette (43 pages)
  5. Carter, Angela — Heroes and Villains (152 pages)
  6. Burroughs, Edgar Rice — A Princess of Mars (209 pages)
  7. Hill, Susan — The Woman in Black (152 pages)
Page count
1386

Much of my reading selection is influenced by the movie industry. This year alone I've plucked War Horse, A Princess of Mars, and The Woman in Black off my bookshelves only because a movie adaptation was showing in cinemas, and I already know I'll be doing that at least twice more this year.

Actually, The Woman in Black wasn't so much my choice as it was the Mad Fisher's. I already had two other Susan Hill novels on my shelves which I considered higher priority, but the Mad Fisher said she'd like to see The Woman in Black, so I bought the book online and actually paid full price. (Haven't done that in a while, as I get most of my books used for dirt-cheap prices from charity shops or Amazon Marketplace.) She was a bit surprised that not only had I not read it but indeed I was blissfully unaware the movie was a book adaptation. Apparently most British kids read this in school alongside some Dickens story. It was time for me to catch up with British schoolkids!

I thoroughly enjoyed The Woman in Black. Hill does a superlative job of creating a tense, eerie atmosphere and pacing the story just right. I did not want to set the book down for fear something might happen to its protagonist if I didn't stay up with him. And the inclusion of Spider, though I think the name somewhat unfortunate, was a brilliant stroke.

We have yet to see the recent movie adaptation — ah, the joys of a long-distance relationship with someone who lives miles from a cinema! But I have watched the 1989 film adaptation for ITV, which is said to be more faithful to Hill's novel. I suspect the two are equally (un)faithful in that most major elements are present but particulars, particularly at either end of the film, are changed to suit the whim of the director. My main objection wasn't the altered ending but the exclusion of what I considered to be the climax of Kripps' stay at Eel Marsh House, the scene that first asserts the woman in black might be more than a spooky but harmless apparition.

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