The Haunted House, by Charles Dickens, et al. (Hesperus Press Limited, 2015).
I recently picked up a copy of this newly reprinted edition of The Haunted House, a collaborative effort by Dickens and several of his fellow authors (with an introduction by Peter Ackroyd). The book isn't exactly what I had expected. In his framing narrative, Dickens sets it up as a group of friends staying in a house reputed to be haunted, who plan to get together at the end of their stay and tell stories about the visitations they've experienced. Instead, they mostly use the house as a jumping-off point for stories they want to tell about other things.
As one would expect, the stories vary widely in quality, according to who's writing them. I found the entries by Hesba Stratton and George Augustus Sala unmemorable and rather pointless, and Wilkie Collins's contribution, though genuinely suspenseful at times, was not among his best efforts. The most moving entries are a poem by Adelaide Anne Procter about a nun who left her convent, and a melancholy story about an old farmer and his wife by Elizabeth Gaskell. The funniest story is Dickens's own, although it characteristically swings suddenly from humor to pathos near the end.
I don't think I could go so far as to agree with Ackroyd that "The Haunted House is of the utmost significance for anyone interested in exploring the genius of Charles Dickens," but it is an entertaining and worthwhile read.
(Review copy purchased at The Strand.)
Part 2 of this edition of "From the book pile" coming soon!