The Sundial by Shirley Jackson

The Sundial - Shirley Jackson

I didn’t like The Haunting of Hill House, my only previous experience of the work of Jackson, so wasn’t hugely enthused about reading another one of her books. It was the pick of one of my local book clubs, though, (which I’ve yet to go to) so decided I’d give it a try, at least. As it turned out, I really liked it.  It was one of those books I enjoyed, but was kind-of forgettable, so I won’t leave much of a review as my memory is scant on details, seeing as how I read it a month ago.


The Sundial revolves around a group of family members who are all together in the family mansion-style home after the death of one of their kin. One of the relatives, Fanny, is out walking and is told a prophecy by her late father when she sees his ghost. He warns her that the world is going to end and the families only chance for survival is to stay in the mansion more-or-less permanently. This was ironic as the woman left in charge of the mansion had just informed nearly everyone that they had to vacate permanently, so this prophecy came at a very convenient time for them. This set the tone of what was to come, a kind of family-saga style comedy, nothing like my previous experience of Jackson.


The book was really quite funny as everyone prepared for the end of the world. What wasn’t funny, however, was the continual burning of books to make space for provisions in the mansion. This was clearly tongue in cheek as the house was massive, so goods could have been stored elsewhere. It was quite light on horror as well, the overall feel of the book being humour, rather than of foreboding. I think that’s one of the main reasons I enjoyed it, as I’m not big on horror. Overall, I liked it, but it’s not one that’ll stick in my memory, apart from the burning of books *shudder*.