Sunday 4 October 2020



The Turn of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a novella I read back in high school, so it's been a while. Still, I remember really enjoying it and I've been meaning to re-read it for ages. Also, The Haunting of Bly Manor is coming to Netflix this week so this was the perfect time to get stuck into it.

The new governess instantly loves her adorable young pupil, Flora. She doesn't even mind when one becomes two and she has to add Miles to the mix. It's the strangers she sees on the manor's grounds that start to unravel her...

I'm very happy to say that I enjoyed the hell out of this story today, as much as I did decades ago. It totally grabbed me and although at times it feels like there are chunks of narrative missing, it only adds to the building mystery. And it's not hard to fill in the gaps.

I get that some people might find the writing a little flowery or even jarring, but I liked it because it's perfect for the setting and time. I also think it adds to the confusion and doubt. Besides, classic writing is often like this and I find it (most of the time) charming.

The Governess is a character I would describe as honest. She takes her job seriously, is committed to the children and doesn't appear crazed. The ghostly occurrences are spooky and mysterious, told in a way that could be true spirit manifestations or psychological delusions. Even her accusations about the children could be wrong. Unless you read into what happens and what they actually say, or how they act. Miles sure sounds like a manipulative little creep to me.

At the same time, you also can't help feel sorry for these kids. I mean, their parents died and their uncle sends them away to his country home in Essex to be with strangers, when what they really needed was the compassion of a relative. Yeah, I've got opinions about that man. 😐

Anyway, this was still a great example of storytelling in a style that when the story is over, it's easy to believe the tale is about ghosts and creepy children, but could just as easily be about someone going through a psychological delusion because of isolation and suspicion.

Either way works, but I'm sticking with the ghost story. And I can't wait to see how the Netflix show takes this and turns it into an even creepier experience...

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