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Comments: The Ayres family have lived at Hundreds Hall since the early-mid 1700s and now in post-war times (WWII) there remain three family members, one live-in servant and one half-time servant under its roof. During the war, they did their part for the war effort giving their rooms over to soldiers, their land over to the army for its use, their silver for melting, their furs, woolens, linens, etc for cutting apart and making clothing, handing down clothing they didn't need for those left without homes after the bombings and now that the war is over they have little left. Mrs. Ayres, in her fifties, not old by any means, seems old as she belongs to a different generation and the children try to keep the facts of their penury from her. Roderick, returns from the war a cripple and after recovering from his wounds tries to keep the dairy farm and the estate running for his mother's sake even if it kills him. Caroline is called home from the WRENs to nurse her brother through the long recovery from his injuries at his homecoming and then settles down to help with the estate; a robust, active, yet plain woman she is many years past the expected age of marrying yet she still hopes and now she can be found either in the kitchen with the women help or out on the land helping out the dairy farmer. But this is nothing especially special about the Ayres family, this is a situation that a geat many of the landed gentry of England found themselves in post WWII and the only way they managed to survive was to sell off the land piece by agonizing piece.
What makes the Ayres special is Hundreds Hall itself. Naturally without the money, the manpower or the resources it is falling to pieces and slowly crumbling around them.Read more ›
From that first visit, Dr. Faraday slowly becomes part of the family's life. He is called on often to treat Roddie. Something ails Roddie besides his physical injuries. The young servant girl insists there is something 'wrong' with the house. Caroline begins to wonder this as well, as more misfortune befalls the family.
" This house is playing parlour games with us, I think. We shan't pay it any mind if it starts up again."
She confides in Dr. Faraday and enlists his help.
" I don't know what's going on here, any more than you do. But I'd like to help you figure it out. I'll take my chances with the hungry house, don't worry about that."
This is a tale with a 'gothic' feel to it, a ghost story of sorts. But it doesn't involve overt frights or over the top scenarios. Instead it is all the more delicious for the subtle and insidious manner in which the story unfolds. Everyday items and occurrences suddenly take on a sinister bent.
The interplay between the characters is just as much a part of the story. Dr. Faraday is a bit of an enigma.Read more ›
The story takes place in England after WWII and features the well-to-do Ayres family. The matron of the family, Mrs. Ayres, is widowed and she lives at the Hundreds Hall estate with her rather homely daughter, Caroline, and son, Roderick. The family has fallen on hard times, and what was once a shining jewel is now a decrepit mansion in desperate need of repairs. Roderick, in his father's stead, has taken over the handling of the estate's day-to-day affairs but is finding it hard to manage when there are no liquid assets left. The rugs and furniture, once beautiful and ornate, are threadbare and shabby. The bulk of the financial burden falls on Roderick's shoulders, which puts a huge strain on him.
One of the local country doctors, Dr. Faraday, is called to Hundreds Hall because the Ayres' young servant, a teenager named Betty, has been stricken with stomach pains. His now-deceased mother was once a servant for the Ayres family, and Dr. Faraday remembers being so enamoured with Hundreds Hall as a young boy. He is thrilled to have an opportunity to see it again, but he is quite shocked to see it in such a state of disrepair. The Ayres have become somewhat like hermits, keeping mostly to their estate and not venturing out into town. A congenial friendship is struck up between Dr. Faraday and the Ayres family, and he begins to drop in and visit with them. He notices that Roderick's leg, which was injured in the war, has been giving him trouble and the good doctor offers to take a look at it.Read more ›
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