The Sundial Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Sundial

A family of over privileged wealthy people stock up in their mansion when one of them has a vision that the world is about to end. Centered in a small northeast town, The Sundial opens just after a funeral. A young man who was to inherit his mother's estate “fell down” the stairs. His angry wife believes her mother-in-law pushed him. From there, this highly unusual comedy depicts the inhabitants of this mansion as arrogant, selfish and idiotic individuals.
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An elderly aunt gets lost in the secret garden and hears her deceased father predicting the world's end. He assures her that if they stay in the mansion he will keep them safe. Most of the family believes her and they begin stockpiling for the apocalypse, convincing themselves that they are the only ones worthy of survival.

Several young love interests pop up as new characters move into the house and a few of them even try to escape over the gates. One of the non-family members begins making predictions of her own using a large mirror. The group continues to believe for months, burning the books in their library to make room for necessities such as canned spaghetti and toilet paper. Jackson is brilliant in her declaration on the absurdity of wealth as she writes that the only book they hold onto is a boy scout's guide to survival in the wilderness. The group takes on a cult-like feel as they band together against the outside world to prepare themselves for doomsday.
Best part of story, including ending: This book is very funny while being extremely creepy.

Best scene in story: When Gloria tries to escape and gets lost in the fog - It's terrifying. And the following scene is hilarious.

Opinion about the main character: The mother of the household, Mrs. Halloran, is an absolute villain. But she's just as entertaining as she is mean.

The review of this Book prepared by Angela Lovell a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Sundial

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Religion theme?    -   Yes Religion theme:    -   Cult! (time for the coolaid!)

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   wealthy Has magical powers?    -   Yes Magical/mental powers of main character:    -   can see into the future Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Extremely cynical or arrogant


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   10 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   sinister, like an X-Files Gomer Pyle Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like The Sundial

Shirley Jackson Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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