‘The Tower’ by Marghanita Laski

I’m not generally a lover of the show-off’s ending, but I love a good ghost story. ‘The Tower’ is better than good. For me, only Elizabeth Jane Howard’s eerie canal-based tale, ‘Three Miles Up’ comes close to matching its claustrophobic power. Laski was a fine novelist, a popular broadcaster and a scholar who specialised in ecstatic religious experience. All three feed into this story of a married woman, alone in her car for the first time, pulling off the road in Tuscany in order to climb an abandoned tower that has caught her attention in the guide book her husband “was always urging on her”. I first read the story as a child in an exemplary Puffin anthology called Authors’ Choice (published in 1973) where it was introduced by Alan Garner. His final comment tells you all you need to know: “As soon as Caroline reaches the tower, the author turns relentless, and the result is, simply, the most terrifying story I know.”

First published in Cynthia Asquith’s Third Ghost Book, 1955, reprinted in Authors’ Choice, Hamish Hamilton, 1970, and available to read here

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