SHIRLEY JACKSON Omnibus: Quality Paperback Book Club 1998
SHIRLEY JACKSON Omnibus
*The Road Through The Wall
*The Bird's Nest
Quality Paperback Book Club 1998
THE ROADS THROUGH THE WALL - Everyone knew the residents of Pepper Street were "nice" people -- especially the residents themselves. Among the self-satisfied group were: Mrs Merriam, the sanctimonious shrew who was turning her husband into a nonentity and her daughter into a bigoted spinster; Mr Roberts, who found relief from the street's unending propriety in shoddy side-street amours; Miss Fielding, who considered it more important to boil an egg properly than to save a disturbed girl from destruction. It took the gruesome act of a desperate boy who lived among them to pierce the shell of their complacency and force them to see their own ugliness.
HANGSAMAN - The story is a simple one but the overtones are immediately present. "Natalie Waite who was seventeen years old but who felt that she had been truly conscious only since she was about fifteen lived in an odd corner of a world of sound and sight, past the daily voices of her father and mother and their incomprehensible actions." In a few graphic pages, the family is before us—Arnold Waite, a writer, egotistical and embittered; his wife, the complaining martyr; Bud, the younger brother who has not yet felt the need to establish his independence; and Natalie, in the nightmare of being seventeen.
The Sunday afternoon cocktail party, to which Arnold Waite has invited his literary friends and neighbors, serves to etch in the details of this family's life, and to draw Natalie into the vortex. The story concentrates on the next few critical months in Natalie's life, away at college, where each experience reproduces on a larger scale the crucial failure of her emotional life at home. With a mounting tension rising from character and situation as well as the particular magic of which Miss Jackson is master, the novel proceeds inexorably to the stinging melodrama of its conclusion. The bitter cruelty of the passage from adolescence to womanhood, of a sensitive and lonely girl caught in a world not of her own devising, is a theme well suited to Miss Jackson's brilliant talent.
THE BIRD'S NEST - Elizabeth is a demure twenty-three-year-old wiling her life away at a dull museum job, living with her neurotic aunt, and subsisting off her dead mother's inheritance. When Elizabeth begins to suffer terrible migraines and backaches, her aunt takes her to the doctor, then to a psychiatrist. But slowly, and with Jackson's characteristic chill, we learn that Elizabeth is not just one girl—but four separate, self-destructive personalities. The Bird's Nest, Jackson's third novel, develops hallmarks of the horror master's most unsettling work: tormented heroines, riveting familial mysteries, and a disquieting vision inside the human mind.
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