Spoilery Review of A Turn of the Screw

Went in Davis Kidd yesterday, mainly just to kill time because it was just 12:30 and there was no way i was going to try to go in Panera for lunch until at least 1:15. Anyway, i was digging through the bargain bin when i found Henry James' A Turn of the Screw for just 2.99. There was a big rack of about 40 odd titles that were sort of "thrift classics" that started out at just 4.95 anyway. as i was going to read this for RIP i snatched it up but couldn't remember which of the rest may have been on my 1001 Books list so didn't end up spending too much cash. I should probably keep a list of a dozen or so with me to snag some on super discount when this happens!

I didn't realize it was a short story. either a long short story or a really short novella. Either way i ripped through about 30 pages during my lunch and the rest yesterday evening. Very Enjoyable. A governess is in charge of 2 kids at a country home in England. Their parents are dead and their uncle is not around. The governess discovers there are 2 ghosts who want to off the kids so the ghosts can keep them, but the kids are not scared, they are fascinated. Very good mood building and quite creepy. It did have the sort of weird narrator structure that a lot of Victorian horror/mystery seems to use. The first narrator is listening to a story being read by a second person who knew the person the events happened to. Sort of made it a bit urban legendy. Also, apparently Victorians of all ages are terribly prone to heart attacks. I personally would have preffered the death to be a little more dramatic, like someone jumping out a window due to the ghosts, rather than just randomly fall over. I am sure it was more dramatic to those who read it when released.

I will definitely read the other short stories in the book. I enjoyed this one a lot. It actually reminded me of the last story in Stephen King's Different Seasons called The Breathing Method. Not in what the stories were about but in structure, tone, and narrator.

Picking up Rebecca from the library today so will probably start that soon, as well as work on Sense and Sensibility for another group.

currently: in need of a shower.


  1. The first time I read this, I took the narrator's version as truth and was completely satisfied with categorizing it as a ghost story. The second time, I was a little older and had a bit of Freudian esoterica in my head, and I doubted the governess' version. I've read it on different occasions since, each time with a slightly different take on the events and the characters and with some critical analysis (when discussing it with students as a book of choice). This is one of those books that always seems to bear a closer examination...

  2. I started this at university but never finished it. I will go back to it and give it another go I think.


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