1st Shot of Shock: The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell

I read The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell as part of the 31 Shots of Shock, 2010.

Before starting the review let me tell you something about me. I am easily scared, very easily. My husband’s favorite game is to pull up behind me, and scare the bejesus (new word, I am loving these days) out of me. He is teaching Aarya to laugh when I shriek and clutch my heart to check if I am alive. I cannot watch a horror movie, without putting my hands on my face and watching through my fingers and I cannot sleep alone after watching a full movie, if I am able to, that is.

So I am doing a very brave job of reading horror stories, really I am; so I won’t be a very good judge of the horror factor of the story.

Now to the story, The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell, written in 1852, is a kind of story which I can see myself narrating to my own sister in the cold of stormy winter nights – ofcourse changing the settings a bit – and scaring the butterflies ( i did not want to use sh*t) out of her. It has that kind of old kind of feel. I had no idea what the story was about, which was good thing, but I knew there was horror in it, and I was slowly reading waiting on the horror part to start, and when it did – I know I did not stop reading. The shriek from the cradle where Aarya was sleeping scared the life out of me, but I put up my most brave front and kept on reading.

A little girl and her nurse are shifted to the little girl’s ancestral house after the little girl’s parents die. The mansion has the very old Ms. Furnivall and her maid and friend Ms. Stock. There is James and his wife and another maid bellow them, this is the whole family who live in the mansion. Things start getting from good to cheery as little Rosamund becomes beloved to one and all. But when the winter starts, the nurse starts hearing the piano playing and things start getting weird and creepy from there.

I really did not care about the first half; being written in 1852 the writing is a bit tough to follow and I could see myself lose interest quite often where the nurse kept on talking about the mansion and all its architecture, but the horror part was good – and that is the reason I really liked this story.

Read it online.

Review of Rob @ RaobAroundBooks

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  1. I sometimes find that reading older mysteries or shock stories are different than the ones today–they’re more about the psychological shock than the gore. Which I appreciate. But scary in a different way.

    And I am NOT above closing my eyes during a scary movie or preview. A lot of times I’ll just leave the room at home or walk out of the movie!

  2. This sounds really interesting, I should try it. Btw, if you liked this one, you should tryTurn of the Screw by Henry James – one of my favorites 🙂

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