The Man in the Picture

When Oliver visits his former professor Theo Parmitter at Cambridge University, he thinks that they will be spending time just as usual – sitting by the fire, having nice conversations and drinking whisky. Oliver always enjoys listening to Theo’s stories, but this time, the old professor is about to narrate a strange and disturbing tale that will change Oliver’s life forever. The story begins and ends with a Venetian picture – a painting that hangs on Theo’s wall. It depicts a masked crowd at the Venice carnival. If you stare at the picture for too long, you can see strange things happening. It seems to draw you into itself so that you feel like becoming a part of the Venetian scene.  There’s just something odd and mysterious about that picture and the old professor is ready to reveal its gloomy secret. 

Theo has acquired the Venetian picture at an auction when he was younger. He just knew that he had to buy the painting because it fascinated him. Little did he know that this intriguing painting would have such strong impact on other people’s lives. The professor was very content with his new purchase and he often stared at the picture in awe. The years have passed and Theo’s life went on as usual, and nothing of importance happened. However, one day, he received a letter concerning his beloved painting. The letter was from a Lady Hawdon, a Countess who wished to see him and talk to him about the Venetian picture. Therefore, the professor decided to pay her a visit in order to find out what Lady Hawdon had in mind. When he met the old woman, she made clear that she wanted to buy the picture at any cost. Nevertheless, Theo didn’t want to sell the painting, even when Lady Hawdon told him a horrifying tale – a frightening story connected to the Venetian picture. A dark secret lies behind that alluring picture but what does Oliver have to do with it? 

Susan Hill’s Victorian ghost story is an enjoyable quick read – perfect for a winter day (or night). The Man in the Picture tells a strange story of loss, love and revenge. Even though this ghost story is not as frightening as The Ghost Writer or The Séance by John Harwood, it is still a haunting tale! I really liked this book, thus I recommend it to everyone who loves a good ghost story and to everyone who enjoys reading Gothic Fiction. 

I would like to thank Vida Engstrand from The Overlook Press for sending me a copy of this lovely book!

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