Ghost Story Review: “Miss Jéromette and the Clergyman” by Wilkie Collins
This story is introduced by a man who took the dying confession, so to speak, of his brother, a clergyman. The clergyman brings to his attention the case of a man recently acquitted for the murder of a certain Miss Jéromette. The clergyman knows he was in fact guilty.
He swears his brother to secrecy then begins to tell how he met Miss Jéromette in London years earlier, how she was smarting from a being abandoned by a gentleman friend. She doesn’t want a romance, but they start a friendship. All this is just as well because the brothers’ mother extracts a deathbed promise from him to fulfill his promise to their father and enter the church.
At the same time he must break this news to Jéromette, she receives a letter from her erstwhile gentleman friend, saying he will take her back. He will marry her, but the marriage must remain secret while his parents live. Yeah, what lady could turn down an offer like that?
They part. The clergyman offers her help should she ever need it. Jéromette says she knows she will die young and horribly, but she will let him know.
My big gripe with this story is that the characters are all so passive. The unnamed brother who takes the clergyman’s confession just sits and listens to his brother. The clergyman listens to the predictions of Miss Jéromette, who in turn takes back a lover who had abandoned her despite knowing things will turn out horribly. The clergyman offers help, but she never asks takes up his offer, outside putatively appearing to him as a spirit. Melodrama overload for me, I’m afraid.
Author Wilkie Collins, the son of a painter, is perhaps now best known for his novel The Moonstone . In addition to novels and short stories, Collins also wrote—and acted in—several plays. He became good friends with author Charles Dickens.
Title: “Miss Jéromette and the Clergyman”
Author: Wilkie Collins (1824-1889)
First published: first appeared as “The Clergyman’s Confession” in Canadian Monthly August-Sept. 1875
© 2016 Denise Longrie
An earlier version of this review appeared on another site. It has been removed from that site and is no longer visible. Additionally, that site has crashed and burned and is no longer visible. The review has been updated and expanded for its inclusion in PP.
JohnRoberts wrote on January 18, 2016, 10:18 AM
As I recall, Wilkie Collins also wrote the classic ghost story The Woman in White.
DWDavisRSL wrote on January 18, 2016, 10:36 AM
This sounds like a rather somnolent read the way you've described it. More a prescription to help one sleep than a real ghost story.1
msiduri wrote on January 18, 2016, 10:48 AM
You are correct. I haven't read it.
msiduri wrote on January 18, 2016, 10:50 AM
It was rather more frustrating for me. I wanted to, well, deliver Miss J. a bit of a boot on her backside to see if she'd do something. Like pitch her gentleman friend into the St. Lawrence or something.
Rufuszen wrote on January 18, 2016, 11:02 AM
Don't think this is one I will be trying.
msiduri wrote on January 18, 2016, 11:12 AM
LOL. Well, after my rousing endorsement, I can't say that I blame you.
Rufuszen wrote on January 18, 2016, 11:49 AM
Yes I blame you entirely!1
LeaPea2417 wrote on January 18, 2016, 12:21 PM
I have not heard of this story before. It sounds interesting.
lookatdesktop wrote on January 18, 2016, 12:50 PM
I don't like reading ghost stories, as they make me nervous. As it is, I think this house we live in is haunted by the spirit of a squirrel from acorn land.
MegL wrote on January 18, 2016, 2:21 PM
I have read a few of Wilkie Collins' books, including "No Name", "The Woman in White" and "Moonstone" and enjoyed them all but some of his other stories were not as good. I had not heard of this one.
msiduri wrote on January 18, 2016, 4:20 PM
It is interesting, but it's a little frustrating for my taste.
msiduri wrote on January 18, 2016, 4:21 PM
I'm there's quite the tail behind that.
msiduri wrote on January 18, 2016, 4:24 PM
I think this falls into the "other stories [that] were not as good."
msiduri wrote on January 18, 2016, 11:57 PM
indexer wrote on January 20, 2016, 3:24 PM
I like stories in which something actually happens, not ones in which people talk to each other about what happened years before!
Telynor wrote on January 20, 2016, 5:35 PM
Wilkie Collins was a wonderful writer, much better, IMHO, than Dickens.
msiduri wrote on January 20, 2016, 7:20 PM
This would not be one for you then.
msiduri wrote on January 20, 2016, 7:22 PM
Collins could create a wonderful atmosphere. Dickens strength, IMHO, was characters.
CalmGemini wrote on January 27, 2016, 9:31 PM
Though I would not be reading this story,thank you for bringing him to mind.We had to study an excerpt from ''Moonstone'' in school,which led to my reading that novel.I liked it. I was going to read The woman in white,but I didn't .I think I would read it and re-read Moonstone.
msiduri wrote on January 28, 2016, 8:10 AM
I haven't read either of those, but I'm led to believe they're better works. I'll have to get around to them one of these days. They sound enjoyable.