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.

Books and a dental mishap

Last night I fancied a treat so I unwrapped a creme egg, my first of the season. I actually paused before chomping into it because that first bite is always a bit scary as the chocolate is so thick at the top. The worst happened I’m afraid and a front capped tooth sheered off, so I had an unexpected trip to my dentist in Glenrothes today to begin to get it all sorted out. I’m now exactly like that girl in the advert which warns you to take care of your teeth – or else!

Anyway, after the dentist I had a look around the town and went into The Works, more in hope than expectation really because their choice of books has been dire the last year or so, but I was in luck. They were having a stock liquidation sale and they had quite a lot of books at the princely sum of £1 each and amazingly there were four that were worth buying. So I bought:

The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby. I read and enjoyed South Riding years ago and I’ve been meaning to read this one for ages.

Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard
. Apparently this one was on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour but I missed it. I like her writing, sadly she died just a week or so ago, but I suppose she had a good innings – as THEY say.

Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge
. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of her books, this one is yet another Titanic setting which did put me off a bit because I think that that subject has been overdone in the past but I’m sure I’ll enjoy this, if that’s the word in the circumstances.

And lastly, Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White. I’ve never heard of this author before but it’s vintage crime and apparently this book inspired the classic film The Spiral Staircase. I thought that would have been inspired by the Mignon Eberhart book of the same title, but I bow to their superior knowledge!

Crazily, on the way home I dropped into the museum shop as it’s a good place to get unusual cards and I made the mistake of hopping into the library next door, which due to the refurbishment is now only one step away. I couldn’t resist the new books shelves and ended up borrowing:

The Doll – short stories by Daphne du Maurier
Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
The Comforters by Muriel Spark
Summer by Edith Wharton

I’m trying to read my way through everything by du Maurier. I think it was Peggy who mentioned Elisabeth Gifford, but I haven’t read anything by her yet. The Muriel Spark book will count towards the Read Scotland 2014 challenge and I’m also trying to read my way through everything by Wharton, so that was a great haul of shiny new books. Now I just need the time to read them all!

You might want to have a listen to Pam Ayres reciting her poem – I wish I’d Looked After My Teeth. – It’s exactly how I feel although of course I don’t have her rural English accent. But ‘tak tent’ (pay attention) as we say or used to say in Scotland, and if I ever eat another creme egg I’m thinking that I might just bash it on the head with my rolling pin, to soften it up first. If you have a better idea of how to go about eating one safely, let me know!