A House to Let is a short story by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter. It was originally published in 1858 in the Christmas edition of Dickens’ Household Words magazine. Collins wrote the introduction and collaborated with Dickens on the second story and ending, while Gaskell and Proctor wrote the remainder.
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What’s not to love about an inquisitive elderly lady playing Miss Marple?
A House To Let, a collaboration between some of the greatest classic British authors Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Proctor, is your quintessential cosy mystery. It comes from a time where deception and intrigue were enough to underpin a compelling story – no blood or murder were necessary.
Therefore, I thought it just as well, before any London Philandering took place, that I should have a little time to look round me, and to see what girls were in and about the place. So, nobody stayed with me in my new lodging at first after Trottle had established me there safe and sound, but Peggy Flobbins, my maid; a most affectionate and attached woman, who never was an object of Philandering since I have known her, and is not likely to begin to become so after nine and-twenty years next March.
The charm of this story is partly brought about by the age of its protagonists – an independently wealthy and opinionated but ailing elderly woman called Sarah and her ever loyal and dependable, longstanding man-servant named Trottle. Add into the mix another elderly gentleman (or suitor), Jarber, vying for the lady’s attentions much to the chagrin of Trottle and you have all the ingredients for a story to make one smile.
Sarah becomes fascinated by a neglected and rundown house she can see from her window, and when one day she believes she sees someone peering out of one of its windows, she sets her male companions the challenge of finding out all they can about that house for her. The reader is then taken on a journey through each of that house’s past residents and in each of their tales we uncover mysteries also.
A House To Let exudes British decorum and etiquette, the banter of the storytellers is charming and the ending is satisfying. The underpinning theme is people finding joy from shared understanding and companionship, and how can that not make one feel warm and fuzzy.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5