Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White

Some Must Watch was first published in 1933 and it was made into a film called The Spiral Staircase in 1946. Ethel Lina White had her first book published in 1931 and her last in 1944, the year of her death.

This one appealed to me as it’s that classic setting of a large old spooky rural house. Helen is a young red-headed woman with a passion for life and great optimism, it’s just as well because life hasn’t been easy for her and her one dread is unemployment, she knows what it is to go hungry. When she succeeds in getting the post of lady-help in an old house called the Summit, situated on the English/Welsh border and 22 miles from the nearest town she realises that it’s the house’s remoteness which has helped her secure the position, not many maids are interested in living in such an out of the way location.

The Summit is owned by the Warren family who consist of Professor Warren, his sister and their elderly step-mother Lady Warren. She’s a curmudgeonly invalid. The professor’s son and daughter-in-law, resident pupil and various servants complete the household. Helen is happy that she’ll be having her meals with the family as she sees them as being entertainment for her, she can’t afford a seat at the Pictures.

In fact she gets a bit too much in the way of excitement as it turns out that there’s a murderer on the loose in the neighbourhood and it’s young women about Helen’s age who are being targeted.

I found this one to be full of suspense of the don’t go down that dark corridor sort, but there’s also quite a lot of humour too. Helen is a very likeable character and Lady Warren is one of those indomitable old ladies, bedridden but still a force to be reckoned with.

You can read about the film here. It does seem to be a bit different from the book – as usual.

6 thoughts on “Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White

  1. I have a copy of the movie tie-in book from 1946. Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, and Ethel Barrymore starred. They even had movie tie-in books back then! I haven’t read the book, though.

    Have you read Shirley Jackson’s book The Haunting of Hill House? That’s one of my favorite books and movies, the movie with Julie Harris, not the awful more recent re-make.

    • Joan,

      No I haven’t read that Shirley Jackson book or seen the film. I’ll look out for it. I did see the last 30 minutes or so of The Spiral Staircase. It’ll be on TV again soon I suppose and I’ll watch it all then.

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