Sunday, January 27, 2019

Hill House...Book And Series

"cup of stars"
I have just finished watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix...for the second time. I watched it once last fall, and then asked for the book for Christmas. I finished reading it  (rereading, actually, since I'd read it in high school) the second week of January and watched the series again, looking for connections between the book and film. I'm not big on watching "reruns," certainly not so soon after watching something the first time. But Shirley Jackson wrote The Haunting of Hill House.

You all know how I feel about Shirley Jackson.

Shirley Jackson has a  horror writer reputation. Because of that, she doesn't get credit for things like the incredible elegance of her writing in The Haunting of Hill House. You can hear some of it in the TV series. Some of Steven's voice overs from his book are Jackson's actual words. While the series is very different from the book as far as action and characters are concerned, in terms of mood, it's very true to the original.

The series also picks up a multitude of bits and pieces from Jackson's book, working them into the weekly episodes that move back and forth through time, often from different characters points of view. Jackson fans like myself can have a glorious time looking for the connections.

Overlap Between Hill House The Book And Hill House The TV Series

  • The Dudleys are the only characters who appear, as is, in both the book and the series, though they have a very different story arc in each. Mr. Dudley, in particular, is quite different in terms of behavior.
  • The names of three of the major characters, Luke, Theo, and Eleanor/Nell come from the book. In the series, Eleanor's married name is Eleanor Vance, which is her name in the book. Though they are adults and unrelated in the book, they are described as beginning to feel like family. In the series, Luke, Theo, and Nell are siblings and appear as both children and adults.
  • Theo is sexually ambiguous in the book. She's a lesbian in the series.
  • Hugh Crain is the original builder of Hill House in the book. In the series, he is a major character, the father of Luke, Theo, and Nell. He is also some sort of contractor who has bought Hill House and is planning to flip it, giving him another connection to the builder Hugh Crain of the book.
  • In the series Luke, Theo, and Nell have a sister named Shirley, which is an obvious tribute to our Shirley Jackson. She is very much a caretaker in the book, the way an author is.
  • I have no idea where the name Steven, the last sibling in the series, comes from. 
  • Rooms are referred to by colors in both the book and the series.
  • In the book, Theo and Nell are in a bedroom at night screaming because of the pounding around them. The child Theo and Shirley in the series have a similar scene. As adults they're together in Shirley's funeral parlor when more pounding occurs.
  • In the series there is a scene where Theo wakes up having been holding someone's hand, but she doesn't know whose. A similar thing happened to either Theo or Nell in the book.
  • A cup of stars is referred to in both the series and the book.
  • In the book, Nell runs up a spiral staircase where someone in the past had killed herself. In the TV show, Nell hangs herself near a spiral staircase. That spiral staircase shows up a lot in the last episode.
  • A statue of a father and child appears in the book. There are statues turning up all the time in the series.
  • Eleanor dances in both the book and series.
  • There's a cold spot in both book and series.
  • A mystery dog runs through the house in both the book and series.
  • In the book, Nell experiences a rain of stones when she was young, which is why she is invited to Hill House. She has experienced a supernatural event. In the series, the mother Olivia experienced it when she was young. It's made clear throughout the series that she has some kind of supernatural thing going on, something the house evidently can plug into.
  • "Journeys end in lovers meeting" Liv says to Hugh in the last episode of the series. She's quoting Shakespeare. The line appears often in the book.
  • "I am home. I am home." Yup. Appears both places.
  • The series ends with Steven reading a line from his book, which also happens to be the last line from Shirley Jackson's book. But not quite. Jackson's line ends "and whatever walked there, walked alone." Steven's line ends "and whatever walked there, walked together."  Kind of significant, all things considered.
I am sure this is not an exhaustive list. I only watched the series twice, after all.

 About That Cup Of Stars


No, I am not so obsessed with Jackson and Hill House that I made star-shaped cookies so I could make a cup of stars, because a cup of stars appears in the book and the TV series. Come on! The cup of stars was a cup with stars painted in it. It wasn't a cup of cookies!

No, what happened was I made these little toddler star cookies, then thought, Hey, I could make a cup of stars! That's a totally different thing and makes all the sense in the world.

2 comments:

Alex Baugh said...

Interesting post. I adore Shirley Jackson but have only read The Haunting of Hill House.

Gail Gauthier said...

One of the very impressive things about Jackson is that she works in a number of genres. There's the horror, of course, and the two memoirish housewife books that are pretty well known. But she also wrote short stories, some of which aren't horror but contemporary, mainstream work. And some of those relate to women's status at the time. She died in 1965, so some of these stories may have been written before second wave feminism. She was ahead of the curve.