The Man in the Picture
by Susan Hill
‘Make of it what you will, Oliver,’ he said quietly, ‘but i assure you of this – the story is true…’
And so begins a dark and creepy tale told by Dr Theo Parmitter, a college tutor, to an ex-pupil, Oliver about a 200-year-old painting.
Theo collects paintings and when an old, rather shabby, oil painting comes up at auction he is compelled to buy it. Even when someone approaches him after the auction and offers him a vast sum for the painting he cannot let it go.
The painting hangs in his room for many years depicting a vast masquerade party by the canals of Venice. Atmospheric in its detail of fireworks, lamp lights, gondoliers and revelers wearing elaborate and grotesque masks but it also reveals a darker side with strange figures in windows and dark shadowy tunnels.
Years later whilst visiting a Countess and hearing her story, she again offers him a fortune for the painting and he again declines.
But who is the Countess? And why does her husband look like one of the terrified figures in the painting? And who is the face in the window with the ‘mesmerizingly unpleasant face’ and eyes that are ‘piercing and intense’?
Susan Hill may have written the brilliantly mysterious ‘Woman in Black‘ but this chilling and sinister novella ‘The Man in the Picture’ can sit darkly by its side in the flickering candlelight.
Although this is a small book, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in its atmospheric descriptions and dark, intriguing story.
Ideally it should be read by lamplight in front of a large roaring open fire on a dark, cold, foggy All Hallows Eve for a spooky spine-tingling read.
Review submitted by Helen at Palatine Library
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