Contributors: Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870), Wilkie Collins (1824 – 1889), Elizabeth Gaskell (1810 – 1865), Adelaide Anne Procter (1825 – 1864).
Like The Haunted House, which I read earller this year, House To Let is a portmanteau novel published for Christmas.
It is a very short work – just 104 pages in the edition I read – and was originally published in 1858 in the Christmas edition of Dickens’ Household Words magazine.
Dickens and Collins provide the framework and each of the contributors provides a story along the way.
Sophonista is an elderly lady. The love of her life was lost at sea 25 years ago and her brother and his family, to whom she was devoted, have also died.
When her doctor advises a change of scene she moves from her home to lodgings in London. She is soon intrigued by permanently vacant ‘house to let’ opposite.
Two men set out to uncover the truth for her – her trusted servant Trottle and her long-time suitor Jabez Jarber.
Jarber looks into the history of the house and uncovers three stories. They are entertaining but completely unconnected and they do nothing to answer Sophonista’s questions.
Trottle takes a more practical approach. he uncovers a startling that will change Sophonista’s life.
Sophonista was a lovely character and I would have loved to spend a little more time with her.
None of the contributors are at their best though – House To Let was a pleasant light read between bigger books, but no more than that.