MOTHER'S HOUSE by Julian Gloag
Kirkus Star


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This numbing tale of a family of haunted children and their efforts to come to terms with death and an alien adult world, is a shattering, shocking experience conceived with terse, brilliant understatement. It was Elsa, the oldest child at thirteen, who sounded the first defiant note at the bedside of her dead mother; and the six others, after the first wave of grief, agreed that the way to stay together and away from the orphanage-prison was to keep Mother's death a secret. But Mother dead was very different from Mother alive, and the meetings at Mothertime in the tabernacle at her grave held moments of dread and terror as biblical punishment was decreed in a thin, wavering ""Mother"" voice. It was Hubert who finally pulled outside the fiercely ingrown circle after the death of little Gerty (for a doctor could not, of course, be called), and the ""adopting"" of Louis, fresh from an overpowering mother. He writes the man his mother had mentioned as ""husband"", and soon Charlie Hook appears at the door, loud, expansive and apparently willing. It seems as if the children's pitiful needs are about to be met, and these hidden longings for adult love begin to come to the fore, obscuring the increasing obviousness of Hook's brutality and skulduggery. However, when all possible advantage has been taken of innocence, Charlie Hook lashes out (in an incredibly savage scene) and bares Mother's tattered, degraded past to the many- fathered children. In a fit of fury Hu kills him, and the resigned, defeated children are to be sent, sure as doom, to an institution. These tortured little beings think and talk like children and their anguish is deep and searing. A skilled chiller with a leaven of pity. Watch this one.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1963
Publisher: Simon & Schuster