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The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story Hardcover – 11 Oct 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (11 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846680751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846680755
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 2 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Hill is a prize-winning novelist, having been awarded the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham and John Llewelyn Rhys awards, as well as having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She wrote Mrs de Winter, the bestselling sequel to Rebecca, and the ghost story The Woman in Black, which was adapted for the stage and became a great success in the West End. Her books include a collection of exquisite short stories, The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read, and the highly successful crime novel series about the detective Simon Serrailler. Susan Hill lives in Gloucestershire, where she runs her own small publishing firm, Long Barn Books.

Product Description


A tale brimming with excitement, mystery and vitality ... The story unfolds at a thriller's pace (The Times)

Hill is a writer with the courage of her convictions who knows that there are few things more enjoyable than the inexplicable and eerie, conveyed within an accomplished and solidly reassuring framework (Independent)

Like all the classic ghost stories, Susan Hill's begins in traditional spooky style with the winter wind howling off the fens and bursts of hailstones rattling against the windows ...This is a Hill Hallowe'en special. No mistake (Daily Mail)

A plain but effective style that chills the blood (Guardian) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The chilling tale of a painting so terrifying, its secrets will haunt those who see it ... A ghost story by the author of The Woman in Black. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 30 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
Susan Hill wrote one of my favourite `ghost stories' and in fact one of my favourite novels The Woman in Black a book that I recommend to anyone and everyone. So after quite a while since her last ghost story Mist in the Mirror now here is The Man in the Picture and I read it in one go, I simply devoured the whole thing. I did wait until it was dark and the curtains were drawn just to get the perfect atmosphere. You can't read a ghost story in daylight or on the tube, it doesn't work.

The tale is told on a winters night before the fire (a perfect time and place to read this book if you can) Theo a Cambridge don, is telling his former student Oliver the strange history of the picture that he has on his wall. What may appear to be a beautiful Venetian scene of partying and masks in the street has much deeper secrets and scares in its frame. Poor Oliver is unaware that having been told the tale it will change everything for him and soon the painting will be taking its effect on his own life. This painting is no ordinary painting for it has the power not only to imitate life but also to take it, forever. And the reason it does this? Well without giving anything away its revenge, simple bitter revenge. Revenge for what or whom you will have to read to find out.

Susan Hill is a superb writer who can turn her hand to anything; her crime novels are wonderful, it is however her ghost stories that I love the most. The way she sets the scene so simplistically and builds the tension so easily before you know it your spine is tingling and the hairs on your back and neck are rising. They have that gothic or Victorian feel to them that harks back to the classic era of ghost telling. Sadly I didn't have a fire as I would have given anything for the sound and warmth of wood crackling while I was turning the pages and getting the chills.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matt on 31 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
The "Man in the Picture" is a novella that concerns a Cambridge student who visits his professor and old friend at the university. In the course of the meeting, the two discuss a painting of a Venetian ball the old man bought many years ago, the terrible secrets it keeps and the inevitable consequences for those who discover who is the man in the picture...

A clever ghost story, "The Man in the Picture" may be short, but Susan Hill, having already shown her expertise in the format with "The Woman in Black" and "The Mist in the Mirror," delivers a finely-tuned, masterfully constructed supernatural mystery. A sense of dread permeates every page and the unrelenting pace will leave you breathless right up until the horribly disquieting finale. Hill reaffirms her position as a peerless exponent of a neglected genre with this elegant masterpiece.

Excellent and highly recommended.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By York8500 on 21 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this after listening to a review on Radio 5. The reviewers indicated the novella was heart-stoppingly chilling and a good old fashioned ghost story. I love a good ghost story; so much more chilling than the gore of today that occupies the horror genre.

The book is well written and would benefit from being read on a misty winter or autumn evening in front of a roaring fire, with the house to yourself, the phone turned off and the gurantee of no disturbances.
I read it in an hour, so it kept my attention, always a good sign.

It loses stars for me as it had zero chill factor; never once did I look over my shoulder; never once has it kept me awake, not once have I thought about the content of the novella since.

It should pull on everyones fears... the eyes in certain pictures that appear to follow you round the room, but it failed for me to connect. I came away from this thinking that Hill could write better, so today I have started reading the Women in Black to see if that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Worth a read, but really not spine tingling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By I Bought This on 13 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a great admirer of Susan Hill's work, and this short novella is as stylishly written as her other work; sadly, though, it doesn't fully measure up to her great chiller "The Woman in Black", or indeed its splendid companion "The Mist in the Mirror". This new story has many elements in common with the earlier works, but its creepy atmosphere isn't sustained so expertly. To be honest, "Man in the Picture" feels a little re-heated, notwithstanding the author's characteristically excellent writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CitizenWolfie on 15 April 2011
Format: Paperback
It's pretty hard to write a review of a Susan Hill ghost story without mentioning "The Woman in Black," so I'm not going to compare it against "The Man In The Picture" as I feel it stands up on its own.

The story follows a former Cambridge student Oliver as he visits his old tutor Theo. Only Theo is a changed man after discovering a rare and mysterious painting of a Venetian carnival. A painting whose tale is even more sinister than the surreal, disturbing figures populating the image. As the night draws to a close Oliver realises that there may be more to the old man's tale than his skeptial mind first thought...

If I'm honest I've read three ghost stories by Susan Hill now, and I've always found the basic premise to be a bit clichéd. A spooky old lady, a creepy childlike presence, a haunted picture. It's all stuff that Edgar Allen Poe and other horror writers have been doing for decades. But Susan Hill has a similar writing style of the old masters of Gothic Horror such as the aformentioned Poe, Shelley and Stoker. The scenes are beautifully described, the pace and hightened tension never really drop, and above all else "The Man in the Picture" genuinely sends a shiver down the spine. I personally prefer a "Dark, stormy night" over somebody being snuffed out every five minutes any day. Hill certainly gets the imagination going.

If I could find fault with TMITP, it's that most of the scary set-pieces (any time when the White Lady shows up) are repeated and there isn't much variation on the scares. In a longer book this would be inexcusable so it's a good job the page count is low. It also unfortunately makes the ending very predictable, something Hill is guilty of in other books.
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