Monday, 27 January 2014

The Turn of the Screw - Part 2

Wayhay, I have finished! Now, on with the review.

I found The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, to be a quaint, compelling, and eerie read. I will admit that I found the sentence structure challenging, some sentences went on for what felt like pages and pages, but complicated and archaic sentence structure notwithstanding, it was a great book.

The basic story is that of a young woman, engaged to work as a governess for two orphaned children by their uncle-and guardian-who wants not to be bothered by them, or her. When she arrives at the house in the country where the children stay it is to discover that the young boy has been expelled from school, the previous governess left in mysterious circumstances-and subsequently died soon after-and that the whole house had been in thrall at some point to the absent uncle's manservant Quint-who has also died in mysterious circumstances.

During the course of the story our heroine "sees", whilst walking at twilight, a mysterious figure high up in a tower on the grounds of the house, she goes on to see this figure again, becomes convinced that it is Quint, and realises that there is a plot to possess the children. About halfway through Miss Jessel, the previous governess, also appears-seen at a distance-to join in the attempts at possession.

Or do they?

Just as I settled into thinking that this was a charming little ghost story the whole thing turned on me and I found myself wondering if I was in fact watching an unstable woman's descent into madness.

A deliciously creepy and unsettling story.


  1. Hi Morag, I found your blog through 52 Books in 52 Weeks. You have now made me want to read this novel. Henry James intimidates me but I think this might be a good one to start with!

  2. Hi cleopatra, I'm glad I made you want to read this book - it is an excellent story and really well written. Make sure you've got peace and quiet and as few distractions as possible though, it does take a while to get used to the style.