I was not prepared for how funny this classic ghost story would be! If you are looking for a quick and delightful read for this Halloween season, look no further!
This is Oscar Wilde’s tale of the American family moved into a British mansion, Canterville Chase, much to the annoyance of its tired ghost. The family — which refuses to believe in him — is in Wilde’s way a commentary on the British nobility of the day — and on the Americans, too. The tale, like many of Wilde’s, is rich with allusion, but ends as sentimental romance… from Goodreads.
This book has my vote for the most confusing cover. I am not sure why a female ghost is entering a home that would look more appropriate in America is featured on the cover of a classic story of a male ghost haunting an old English home. Thankfully, while I may pick up books because their covers are adorable, I rarely hold a bad cover against a story.
Oscar Wilde’s relatively short story of the Canterville Ghost’s experience trying to haunt an American family caught me as hilarious. As an American, I find myself frequently grimacing when I witness the activities of my fellow citizens let loose to travel around the world. Americans don’t seem to believe in “when in Rome” and we are, typically, just ourselves everywhere we go for better or for worse.
Even in 1887, when Wilde wrote the story, this very American attitude makes itself clearly known. The Ghost of Canterville Chase, Sir Simon, has been successfully haunting the Canterville line for generations. His bag of tricks has never failed…until The Otis Family arrives from America.
The Otises, Mr. and Mrs., Washington, Virginia and the two twin boys, have been warned of the ghost. Although everyone in the village thinks they are mad for purchasing and residing in the Castle, each character deals with the presence of the ghost in a decidedly American manner. I dare not spoil your experience, but know I found their approach to being haunted amusing to no end. So blunt and naughty were their encounters that I began to feel slightly bad for Sir Simon.
Whether you want to view this story as commentary on American vulgarity versus the British aristocracy or a sweet story of mercy, I know that there is something in this story for everyone of all ages. And, since so many wonderful ghost stories make their way from page to screen, you can enjoy the perpetually wonderful Sir Patrick Stewart as Sir Simon in the 1996 version of the story. I also found a significant number of parrallels in my recent re-watch of Beetlejuice.
Tell me, please! Have you read this story?