Samstag, 19. September 2015

"Route 39 to Ashton, Then Route 5 Going West ...

... and then a little less than 30 miles to the village of Hillsdale."

After Hillsdale, Eleanor will be following, for about 6 miles, a very narrow country road, going up into the hills andin very poor repair.She is following directions written by her host/employer, who also advises her against asking for the way in Hillsdale, where questions about Hill House will turn the inhabitants from the normal state of "rude towards strangers" to outright hostility - in other words: from Hillsdale on, you are on gothic territory!

But for now, Eleanor has lovely trip, and while she follows the road, we follow her thoughts and fantasies: about palaces hidden by a spell and oleander bushes, about a quiet life in a home of her own, cozy, safe, with home-made elderberry wine and plum jam, polished loors, silver tea things and neighbours who like and respect her. There is a very poignant moment when Eleanor witnesses a little girl insisting on her "cup of stars", but I'm not spoiling that. It is hard not to like Eleanor, with her sympathy and interest others, her almost crushing sense of duty and her whimsical fantasies sparked by the landscape she travels through.

Added bonus for this shrinking, shy, introspective person just having escaped a life of servitude and riding a half-stolen car! (I'll come to that later.)

Hillsdale heralds a change of atmosphere - dirty, unattractive, unpleasant, and sullen: Lovecraft lite. The road to Hill House is as bad as expected, even on the way in, there are hints at this road being able to damage a car. (So what will the way out be? In a dark and stormy night maybe, with someone wounded in the back seat?) Eleanor's mood is affected by the ominous surroundings, her enjoyment in her great adventure gnawed at by doubt.

At the end of the road waits something yet more dampening (and foreboding): the gate is locked, double-locked and chained shut and worse, needs to be opened by the platonic example of the disgruntled, low-grade tyrant janitor who of course jumps at the chance of dangling his little power of the key and squeezes every last drop of enjoyment out of it. I suspect any woman who had to deal with more than 3 janitors/gate keepers / door guards in her life knows the type.

Beyond the gate (and now with a very sturdy barrier between Eleanor and the outside wall) are more trees around the road, hiding the house (except for glimpses of the roofs) and inspiring more wild fantasies in Eleanor - until the house is suddenly right in front of her, and her first thought is:

Get away from here.

Or course I couldn't resist looking for "Ashton, USA". There are 14 - little England has more! - but only one on the west coast, which is where I would expect a 80 year old (well, by now close to 120 years) victorian house. (Yep, I know, Winchester mystery house, CA.) Sadly, the west coast Ashton has no Hillsdale in close proximity; lets assume it has been swallowed by Hill House, or at least turned into a ghost town.

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