Top 10 terrible houses in fiction
Places you’d be desperate to avoid in real life provide a magnetic lure in books by authors from Dickens to Du Maurier and even Richard Adams
At some point when writing the story, I realised I was naively blundering into a long and noble tradition of books about terrible houses, much as I’ve naively blundered into many awkward, unfamiliar houses down the years. Maybe I love these places in fiction because I hate and fear them in real life.
Below is a list of good books that fetch up at bad houses. These houses are variously frightening, unsettling or funny – but they all tap into the mounting panic and inadequacy that we (or possibly just me) feel on arriving at an unfamiliar place and realising within seconds that we don’t fit in, that we will never fit in, and that the best that can be hoped for is to avoid some awful faux pas. These are the houses where the flush doesn’t work and the doorknob comes off in your hand and where you say the wrong thing and the host decides that, on balance, he hates you.
Apologies to Sartre, but I think he had it slightly wrong. Hell is not other people; it is other people’s houses.