The Sundial Kindle ↠ Hardcover

The Sundial ➳ [Reading] ➶ The Sundial By Shirley Jackson ➩ – Aunt Fanny knows when the world will endAunt Fanny has always been somewhat peculiar No one is surprised that while the Halloran clan gathers at the crumbling old mansion for a funeral she wanders off Aunt Fanny knows when the world will endAunt Fanny has always been somewhat peculiar No one is surprised that while the Halloran clan gathers at the crumbling old mansion for a funeral she wanders off to the secret garden But when she reports the vision she had there the family is engulfed in fear violence and madness For Aunt Fanny's long dead father has given her the precise date of the final cataclysm.

10 thoughts on “The Sundial

  1. Julie Julie says:

    In Stephen King's novel 112263 a man named Jake Epping finds a portal that allows him to travel to 1958 To be specific it transports him to September 9 1958 1158am And no matter how many times Jake goes into the portal and emerges back into the present day it is always 1958 when he returns Once Jake commits to entering into the portal for good he adjusts to life in 1958 and prefers it He can't uite get over how much better the food tastes how much polite children are to their parents and teachers and how big and beautiful the cars are My father would have loved 112263 and it was published while he was still alive but my dad had fallen into a mental despair by that time and had given up on reading I remember calling him though as I was reading it devouring it actually and telling him the basic premise When I told him about the rabbit hole that takes Jake to 1958 my dad said “I would have jumped right in”Believe me he would have My dad loved the 1950s than any other time and while he was alive you could ask him just about anything from that decade and he would know the answer immediately He also had an excellent voice and could sing just about any lyric from any song performed during that time tell you the make and year of any car he grew up in the then booming auto industry in the Midwest and then branch off in a soft voice and talk about Ray Bradbury Rod Serling and UFOsBut now that it's 2019 and I'm obsessed for the first time in my life with Shirley Jackson I wish I knew Did my father know about Shirley Jackson? I think the answer is “No”And yet in 1958 42 year old Shirley Jackson published The Sundial her fourth novel written before her two most popular books The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the CastleShe had commercial success and she had readership but WHO was reading her and what were they thinking at the time?Because I'm in my 40s in 2019 and this woman is BLOWING MY MINDI started The Sundial over a month ago and it took me days just to get past the first paragraph The only word I can use to describe it is genius I can't read her work uickly; there's too much for me to absorb and stare at And did you know Shirley Jackson's writing can be wicked funny? FUNNY? Oh this is funny all rightI'm not even going to tell you what it's about that's for me to know and you to find out but you're missing out is what you are if you haven't read these booksShirley's depiction of life in 1958 was so vivid so on my mind I have thought about my dad Ray Bradbury and Jake Epping throughout this entire read And when I finally finished the book last night and turned off the lights I had this sudden vision of my father as a skinny teenager walking home from school after basketball practiceIt was weird; I was not asleep I was not summoning any particular image My eyes were closed and I was listening to the dogs shuffling in protest in their crates but in my mind I could suddenly see my dad in his sweaty gym clothes walking home uietly whistling feet crunching lightly in the dirt It was 1958 he was 15 and he was ridiculously happy I watched him this way for uite some time then I sat up in bed and cried and cried at the sight of himI swear Shirley You're some kind of witch for sure

  2. Fabian Fabian says:

    Like a sort of compassionate Oscar Wilde this romp among the tombstones all types of Gothic macabre can be experienced like a full out play There is an impressive group of characters eh automatons and enough lines of dialogue to tickle anyone's fancy This is the third Jackson novel I've delved into; the third novel deserving a 5 star rating Jackson is the uintessential lost and found writer the fountainhead of so much of the stuff the genre has to offer In short an indispensable author whom if you have not read yet you most definitely should It's almost religious this bond formed between us twoAnyway the theme here is charlatanism The seance its ministrations are at the forefront along with story faves such as family curses a limboesue arena for the wind up toys to snap at each other in creepy children and naive adults; you see Shirley Jackson writes about this solely because she herself is its inverse She's the Real DealThis is like Edward Gorey fing the Addams family The magic is derived from the fact that characters are added subtracted with so much freakish freuency that it all seems as in a feverish dream

  3. Michael Michael says:

    This book is such a wicked pleasure I give it four stars only to distinguish it from We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House which are really the pinnacle of Shirley Jackson's art But the elements are all here in The Sundial the old house the sense of decay and doom family legends oddball characters the blurring of reality and magic and a comedy of manners so black and biting that it makes you wince with pleasure and pain The novel opens with a family returning to its estate after the funeral of Lionel Halloran the heir to the fortune who was pushed down the stairs by his own mother The first words uttered by the mother? It's over Mrs Halloran said And then to her husband the young man's father He's gone Richard she said Everything went off beautifullyOuch Soon one of the family gets a vision of the world ending and the rest of the novel is spent busily preparing for this monumental happening all lorded over by Mrs Halloran who grows into the role of leader of this small band of expected survivors It's all so witty and dark and then the end which I won't reveal serves to deepen the entire work as in a way it circles back to its sad beginning So while all the elements didn't come together uite as seamlessly as in We Have Always Lived in the Castle or The Haunting of Hill House this is still a magnificent work and one that I will no doubt re read with pleasure

  4. Robin Robin says:

    WHEN SHALL WE LIVE IF NOT NOW?Shirley Jackson is a wonderfully weird sister a witchy woman with wicked powers and wry sense of humour The Sundial a lesser known precursor to The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a nasty indulgence well worth reading It features many characters none of them particularly sympathetic who find themselves in the Halloran Mansion and who are convinced the end of the world is imminent Believing they will be safe if they stay in the ostentatious house they become preppers for a 1950s apocalypseThere's so much here that appeals The first thing that comes to mind is the dialogue People don't talk to each other in this book they snipe The clever sniping dialogue is worthy of an Oscar Wilde play The characters also never listen to one another They are all so completely self involved they simply posture themselves as best serves their own preservation They do not gain wisdom they just dig deeper and deeper into their own obsessions and kookiness It's absolutely entertaining to see this happenShirley Jackson is ueen of gothic and this book strikes me as perhaps the most gothic of her work that I've read so far The Sundial is an heirloom necklace strung with one beautiful gothic bauble after the next The novel opens after the death of the man of the house pushed down the stairs by his own mother who stands to inherit? Then a mysterious portent of doom delivered by a ghost A terrifying overgrown garden maze that spells the name of a dead woman A creeptastic child who fantasizes about the death of her grandmother An evil and blinding fog that has a woman laughing and crying madly as she gropes around An insane invalid Spying servants that hang on in the background Book burning Murder And the house the huge looming house that is the most dominant character of allThose who have read Jackson's later and famous novels will see seeds of inspiration here One subplot features a haunted house that draws tourists because of a grisly family murder committed by a teenage girl need I say ? But you'll stay in these pages for the story of The Sundial for the sheer fascination of it For the way these characters luxuriate in their idiocy and emptiness For the impending doom For the intoxicating cackles of the pen wielding witch who wrote thisAnd for the answer to the uestion if it's the end of the world will this group of unlikable people really inherit the earth?The sight of one's own heart is degrading; people are not meant to look inward that's why they've been given bodies to hide their souls4 stars only because I still prefer her Castle which is one of my very favourite books

  5. Maureen Maureen says:

    this is among my favourite novels every time i read it i am just as struck by its harmonious discord as i was the first time this story is to me a perversely uneven amalgam of apocalypse drawing room comedy and creepy gothic haunted house tale i think i only like the book for the fact that the pieces don't uite fit together and the scene that scares me the most isn't the one i'd expect; though there are several claustrophobic and uncomfortable moments in the sundial and i always smile at the dialogue in this novel for me some of shirley's wittiest writing it almost feels like oscar wilde briefly inhabited her mind when she wrote this book because the characters are so pert and alive that even when they are cruel or shallow or stupid i am fond of them the drunk villagers are a joy each time and i am as foolishly in love with essex as ever i was though i know he is a cadpeople i have loaned it to never seem to like this book as much as i do; perhaps it is because i am a crooked and misbegotten as it is several found fault with the ending which makes me perfectly content the ending they want i think would have to be a whole other book i find everything i want in a book here poetry and confusion loneliness and fear and the waiting for something bigger than yourself so that you don't have to think about yourself or what the point is any thank you shirley for leaving me stories that understand me so well

  6. Nandakishore Varma Nandakishore Varma says:

    Shirley Jackson writes seriously weird fiction I used to think of her as a horror writer after reading The Lottery and reading about The Haunting of Hill House umpteen number of times I have still not been able to lay my hands on the book However We Have Always Lived in the Castle convinced me that her literary talents were much above that of the run of the mill horror writer the book under discussion has strengthened that belief Shirley Jackson is a genius of the level of Franz Kafka a genuine purveyor of nightmares In The Sundial we have Kafka meeting P G Wodehouse in an American manor houseAs with We Have Always Lived in the Castle the opening is abrupt and horrifying and hits us with the power of a sledgehammer The Halloran family has just returned from the funeral of young Lionel Halloran who has been killed by his mother by being pushed down the stairs Orianna Halloran killed her only son so that the house would belong to her at least until young Fancy Lionel's daughter comes of age Fancy is already dreaming of pushing her Grandma down the stairs like she did her daddyAnd all this is mentioned in the first two pages it's only a prelude to the story properThe Hallorans are a dysfunctional family Apart from the murderess Orianna there is Maryjane the weak wife of Lionel Orianna's husband Richard who's paralysed from waist down and slowly sliding down the slippery slope of dementia Fancy who we shall see is as psychopathic as her grandmother the governess Miss Ogilvie Essex a young gigolo who has attached himself to Orianna and last but not least Richard's sister Fanny Aunt Fanny who is skirting the thin line between eccentricity and insanityIn fact vintage ShirleyThe Halloran house constructed by Fanny's father is situated near a village which is a tourist attraction in its own right due to a notorious murder where a young girl wiped off her whole family with a hammer The house is huge and laid out symmetrically as is the grounds and garden Only the sundial stands off centre striking a jarring note with the curious inscription WHAT IS THIS WORLD? written on itImmediately after Lionel's death Aunt Fanny loses her way during a morning ramble in the garden and apparently meets her long dead father who gives her the message of doom the world is going to be destroyed From the sky and from the ground and from the sea there is danger; tell them in the house There will be black fire and red water and the earth turning and screaming; this will comeFather Father when?The father comes to his children and tells them there is danger There is danger Within the father there is no fear; the father comes to his children Tell them in the housePlease When the sky is fair again the children will be safe; the father comes to his children who will be saved Tell them in the house that they will be saved Do not let them leave the house; say to them Do not fear the father will guard the children Go into your father's house and say these things Tell them there is danger Fanny relays the message and here is where the novel starts to become pure Kafka apparently the whole household buys into it initially in a spirit of indulgence but getting serious as time goes on The Halloran family picks up a few guests who become their fellow travellers on the road to Armageddon Mrs Willow and her daughters Gloria a cousin whose father is away on a game hunting trip in Africa and the captain a young visitor to the village picked by Mrs Halloran to add to her coterie Together they await the destruction of the old world and the birth of the new and story moves slowly and surely to its destructive climax Shirley Jackson's writing is pure delight I have always felt that humour and horror straddled a thin line many horror scenes could become sources of belly laughter if not managed properly and many jokes would make good horror stories Shirley does the tightrope act splendidly Her characters are unpleasant and serious enough to inspire unease but they show their ridiculous side especially in the dialogue which is very Wodehousian in this novel often enough to make us laughOne cannot miss out the religious undertones The only son who is sacrificed the father who plans to destroy the world and save only one family The burning of the books The matriarch who wears a crown which looks just like a substitute for a hat to put in the ridiculous touchview spoiler and who is killed by her successor who appropriates it hide spoiler

  7. Anna Luce Anna Luce says:

    ★★★★✰ 4 stars “I mean why should I figure I’m so special the world is going to end while I’m around?”In The Sundial perhaps Shirley Jackson’s most comical novel twelve rather disagreeable individuals are cooped together in a mansion waiting for the end of the world“The house would be guarded during the night of destruction and at its end they would emerge safe and pure They were charged with the future of humanity; when they came forth from the house it would be into a world clean and silent their inheritance”When Aunt Fanny a rather ditsy spinster whose passive aggressive martyr act brought to mind E M Forster's Miss Bartlett is threatened out of her family home by her megalomaniac sister in law she is uite rightfully distressed Lucky for Aunt Fanny on that very same day she happens to hear the disembodied voice of her deceased father He warns Aunt Fanny of an impending apocalypse and tells her not to leave the Halloran estate “Tell them in the house that they will be saved Do not let them leave the house”When Aunt Fanny reports her father’s warning her brother’s wife Orianna although not entirely convinced decides that if there is to be a new world she wants in More people join their ranks some by chance such as Orianna’s friend and her two daughters while others such as a random stranger are or less coerced into remaining Aunt Fanny is perhaps the only character who actively tries to prepare for ‘life’ after doomsday she buys a Boy Scout handbook and other books that have “practical information on primitive living” as well as stocking up the house with food and other essentials her bulk buying puts to shame today’s panic buyers In the meantime the solipsistic and conniving Orianna ensures her authority punishing those who dare to defy her and her rules The Sundial offers its readers some brilliantly absurd scenes For instance when Aunt Fanny picks up a stranger in the village and decides to name him “Captain Scarabombardon” or when the residents of Halloran house come into contact with the True Believers The dialogues in this novel demonstrate Jackson’s wicked sense of humour as she’s unafraid of ridiculing her own characters Make no mistake though this darkly comedic novel has its disturbing moments and a sense of unease pervades much of the narrativeIn some ways this novel is decidedly Jackson esue First of all we have the setting“The character of the house is perhaps of interest It stood upon a small rise in ground and all the land it surveyed belonged to the Halloran family The Halloran land was distinguished from the rest of the world by a stone wall which went completely around the estate so that all inside the wall was Halloran all outside was not”This is yet another novel by Jackson explores the double function of houses the Halloran mansion is both a fortress—a place of safety—and a prisonWe also have tensions between an aristocratic family and the ‘small minded’ villagers who are often described as belonging to an inferior species toxic and possibly murderous relatives creepy young girls who are far perceptive than others think and mind wandering wheelchair bound old menJackson’s writing is as clever as always Not a word is out of place From her scintillating descriptions “a lady of indeterminate shape but vigorous presence” to the careful yet impactful way in which she arranges her phrases And of course her dialogues are a pure delight to read“Humanity as an experiment has failed”“Well I’m sure I did the best I could” Maryjane said“Do you understand that this world will be destroyed? Soon?”“I just couldn’t care less” Maryjane saidThis being a novel by Jackson most of the characters hate other people and the rest of the world Aunt Fanny’s ‘prophecy’ gives them the possibility of entertaining a future in which they are different Yet they are so occupied with their future as to completely ignore the people around them so that meaningful heart to hearts inevitably fail “But there aren’t any good people” Gloria said helplessly “No one is anything but tired and ugly and mean”The ambiguous nature of Jackson's story and her characters may not appeal to those who dislike when things happen off stage Personally I love that Jackson doesn't always provide answers to the mysteries within her stories I would definitely recommend this to fans of Jackson or to those are interested in a satirical 'pre doomsday' story populated by an Addams type of family Some of my favourite uotes“Now she thought; I may go mad but at least I look like a lady”“You sir” the man said addressing Essex “Do you atone?”“Daily” said Essex“Sin?”“When I can” said Essex manfully”“I will not have space ships landing on my lawn Those people are perfectly capable of sending their saucers just anywhere with no respect for private property”“Can you cook?”“Admirably”“You would have to cook poorly to meet my ideal I want the kind of dismal future only possible in this world ”“I personally deplore this evidence of frayed nerves; we do not have much longer to wait after all and perhaps if we cannot contain ourselves we had better remain decently apart”“If my lunacy takes the form of desiring to wear a crown will you deny me? May I not look foolish in tolerant peace? ”“There’s no denying for instance that my clever Julia is a fool and my lovely Arabella is a—”“Flirt” Mrs Halloran said“Well I was going to say tart but it’s your house after all”“We must try to think of ourselves” Mrs Halloran went on “as absolutely isolated We are on a tiny island in a raging sea; we are a point of safety in a world of ruin”Read reviews on my blog   View all my reviews on Goodreads

  8. Teresa Teresa says:

    Collected in Let Me Tell You New Stories Essays and Other Writings is a lecture titled “About the End of the World” In it Jackson explains how she came to write this novel Casting around for a topic she reread her earlier pre 1958 novels and discovered they all included a wall surrounding some forbidden lovely secret and in this wall a gate that cannot be passed She also realized she never got past the gate and inside the wall so decided to start writing from inside the wall The result was The SundialI was surprised at how funny this novel is Some of it is satirical but all the humor arises naturally from the characters their situation and the dialogue While reading Jackson’s nonfiction works especially those about her family I’ve chuckled out loud but never during one of her novels before—and this is the last one I had left to read I’m not much for comic novels but this is not jaunty in tone At one point I was reminded of Brave New World though I’m not sure why; at other points I was reminded of The Golden Bough and I do know why The only jarring note for our time are spinster type ladies enjoying rumors of rape fantasiesJackson ends her lecture by saying Nothing I have written has ever given me so much pleasure Within the pages of the novel her pleasure is obvious and that pleasure becomes the reader’s It’s a work unlike any of her others and I’ve read them all Normally I’d feel sad upon finishing all the published works by an author I love but I think I’m going to reread her first three novels read so long ago I barely remember them And I'll be aware of those gated walls she couldn’t pass through until she wrote her way into this one

  9. Tara Tara says:

    “The sight of one's own heart is degrading; people are not meant to look inward—that's why they've been given bodies to hide their souls” 35 stars While the charmingly odd dialogue and eerie atmosphere were uite a bit intriguing than the actual plot you can never go too far wrong with Shirley Jackson

  10. Roman Clodia Roman Clodia says:

    but when I think about it this new world is going to have Aunt Fanny and my grandmother and you and Essex and the rest of these crazy people and my mother and what makes anyone think you're going to be happy or peaceful just because you're the only ones left? The thing about the blurb for this is that it doesn't mention just how funny this book is Not pleasantly funny though there's something close to drawing room comedy here; it's wicked possibly misanthropic sardonic cruel humour but it had me all the way from sniggering and smirking to laughing out loud But because this is Shirley Jackson it's not all laughter and crazy people there are important things going on too The Hallorans may be waiting for the new Garden of Eden to emerge on their doorstep but the snakes are already haunting their house However long ago this was written some of the happenings have a prescient significance for our times Aunt Fanny's manic ordering and hoarding of provisions for the apocalypse she's got four cartons of toilet rolls as she burns books to make room on the bookshelves for canned olives and tinned spaghetti More seriously the barricading of the house to keep both others out and the family in is eerily suggestive The monstrous Mrs Halloran is a blast to read about but also contains a shrewd and pointed analysis of social power privilege and self absorption her crownSome of the set pieces are marvellous Julia's creepy attempt to escape; the almost orgiastic last party with Essex's wicked stories of ravaging pirates which thrill Miss Ogilvie and the village single women But alongside the humour and the rapier like dialogue is stupendous I kept thinking of Sartre's 'hell is other people' locked into a nexus of familial and social relationships tied to the house and all it stands for scrutinised watched and policed by bourgeois values and their human manifestations there is and can be no escape

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