The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill: Review

I made a grave mistake when I read two Susan Hill books, The Man in the Picture and The Woman in Black, back-to-back. Even though I've procrastinated  let my thoughts percolate for several weeks now, I still have difficulty separating the two. Mostly because there are vengeful women and the story is of the "sit back and let me tell you my tale" variety. Unfortunately, I loved The Woman in Black so much that there is little room in my heart for The Man in the Picture.

You probably want to know what it's about, right? Well, here goes. Oliver is having a chat with his old professor, Theo, who up until this moment hasn't mentioned the sinister painting hanging on his wall. In it, a group of masked revellers are frollicking on a Venice sidewalk. He points out a figure in the painting who seems to be struggling with a pair of thugs. He then tells Oliver how decades ago he bought it at an auction and how later he was summoned to an estate for a little talking to by an elderly lady.

Here Theo hands the mic to the old woman so she can tell her story. She tells him all about the painting and its dirty deeds. And now she wants it back. Theo refuses and here we are back in his apartment with Oliver. Theo should have given the thing back because the painting is far from finished its evil business.

I had some issues with this story. Why hang an evil picture up if you know it's evil? Why did he bring it up to Oliver at this point? Why did it take so long for the painting to finish what it started? And the villainess's reason for unleashing this force upon the world is a little out there. Relax, lady. I would have liked to know her crazy story. I also would have enjoyed the mystery of the painting more if Oliver had found out on his own instead of having it told to him by Theo, Theo having been told all about it himself by the original owner.

The best part of the story is the last few pages but I could see that ending coming a mile away. Overall I thought the plot could have been pulled from a Twilight Zone episode. A different approach to the story would have made it more interesting. Less talking, more doing.

So The Woman in Black = awesome. The Man in the Picture = meh.


  1. I've had The Woman in Black on my TBR list for the longest time. I don't know this book though it does sound interesting. Sorry you didn't enjoy it more.

  2. Well, I won't look for this one then.

  3. Loved The Woman in Black. Looks like this one is a skip though.

  4. Hmmm. Not very promising. But The Woman in Black sounds like it was a winnter, so maybe I'll start there!

  5. I started with this book, so I suppose that The Woman in Black will be even more awesome when I get to it!

  6. I was only meh on this one too but I have really high hopes for The Woman in Black. I want to read it before I see the film so I really do need to get a copy!

  7. So glad you posted this. I read The Woman in Black last month and just loved it. Then everyone suggested this book, but I hadn't picked it up yet. Maybe I'll wait until next fall so I'm not tempted to compare them at all. Or maybe I'll just re-read The Woman in Black.


Thanks for visiting! Please leave a comment. I've disabled Anonymous comments since I've had a barrage of Anon spam lately. Sorry about that.
Also, if you leave a legit comment but it contains a spammy link, it will not be published.