With its possibly ambiguous content and powerful narrative technique, the story challenges the listener to determine if the unnamed governess is correctly reporting events or is instead an unreliable neurotic with an overheated imagination.
My first exposure to Henry James was this tight little psycho-drama of a ghost story. 'Turn of the Screw' is one of those amazing little stories that twists the reader back and forth between the extremes of believing the narrator is legitimate in her fear of actual ghosts or believing she is simply mad. James' story turns on this dilemma. One slight rotation to the right and all bets are off.
For a ghost story, I was far more creeped out by the two 'angelic' children, the vacant setting, and the remote English country house. Anyway, while not blown away by the story, I still found it compelling, creepy and rich in its ambiguity.
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But I do. I was just too young to "get" Henry James before. Vanessa Benjamin is perfect for this book.
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What did you like best about The Turn of the Screw? What did you like least?
It had a captivating tension that unfolded both slowly and rapidly. It had an ambiguity that created mystery. The ambiguity remained unresolved, creating ultimate dissatisfaction. But the dissatisfaction lasts in a way that is paradoxically satisfying. The (non) resolution left me annoyed, and as if I was supposed to have viewed the story another way all along.I suspect the reaction to it in the early 21st century may be quite different to when it was first written.
Would you recommend The Turn of the Screw to your friends? Why or why not?
What about Simon Vance and Vanessa Benjamin ’s performance did you like?
old English voices and modulating with different charactes.
Do you think The Turn of the Screw needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
I don't think this question makes sense.
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I love the mystery of this story and i go back and forth on the ending depending on my mood. This is a great astory that is written so well that you get to decide the ending.
Narrration is not to be missed.
I liked the setup, environment and even the ghosts but the language is so difficult that much of the story and characters are obscured. The main character is never really developed and neither are the children. The notion of the ghosts doesn't pay off (to me) and so I was never really engaged in the story. I suppose my sensibilities have changed with the times but the story of a governess who takes care of two children in a big country home that is haunted by the ghosts of the old governess and butler just didn't captivate me. It would seem that this setup is ripe for tension and terror but the language keeps the listener at such a distance that the emotions didn't ever heat up for me.
In what could've been a terrific and haunting story with many layers and dimensions, instead, I found this to be a disappointment.
On the other hand, the narrators were both excellent.
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Any additional comments?
This brilliant book is a psychological study disguised a ghost story.
To really understand this book, you have to know something about the time it was written. This book was published in 1898 in Victorian England, in a society so uptight, it was considered improper to utter the word "leg" in mixed company. Gasp! Victorian society with riddled with blatant hypocrisy and double standards. On the surface, it was rigid, prudish and stuffy but this was to camouflage the sexual and moral decadence that often went on behind closed doors. While the legs of furniture were draped with cloth to avoid appearing too sexy, the patriarch of the house might be molesting the scullery maid when nobody was looking.
There are two first-person narrators throughout the story. Our first narrator introduces us to the story and gives us some background info. He's crafting of the story. The second narrator, the Governess, is telling her version of the story within the main story.
On the surface, this is a ghost story told from the point of view of a young, newly hired governess who will be in charge of a young boy and his sister in a haunted manor. The new governess begins seeing what she believes are ghosts peering into the windows. Are they really ghosts? Or is it a peeping Tom spying on the young children? Is this governess hallucinating? Everything is vague and it is left to the reader to decide these things.
Beneath the surface, this is the story of child sex abuse and pedophilia. Immediately after the governess starts her new job, the head housekeeper passes on some gossip about the boy Miles. She says that in spite of his angelic innocent demeanor, the boy has been "bad" in the past, he would disappear for hours in the company of Peter Quint who was "much too free with the boy” and engaged in "depravity." To deal with the disturbing scandal, young Miles was sent away to boarding school but he was quickly expelled after he tells some of his classmates about the sordid things Peter Quint did to him.
The author purposely misleads the reader about the true identity of many of the book's characters. At the beginning of the book, a small group of guests sits around a fire telling stories in the evening. An older man named Douglas tells the story we read. Douglas appears to be telling a story about himself when he was a child, changing his name to Miles. There is an Uncle who, for mysterious reasons, suddenly leaves his Grand Manor House and with no explanation, refuses to ever see Miles again. Could the Uncle and Quint, the man who molested Miles/Douglas, be the same person? There are other moments in the story when the Governess and the housekeeper complete each other's sentences, as if they are one person, talking to themselves.
Why would the author deliberately make things so confusing for the reader with a cover story about a haunted manor? It is all probably part of an elaborate smokescreen to veil the real, much more shocking, scandalous subject matter: pedophilia. Because one did not speak of such depraved matters like pedophilia in repressed Victorian England, Henry James had to jump through hoops to veil the real subject of his novel. Genius, when you think about it
The mystery is not a mystery to the modern reader -- only to the protagonist (who is not easy to like -- I simply didn't care what happened to her). The ending is too predictable -- and unsatisfying.
The classic "gothic horror" tone is entertaining, I guess (that's why I gave it three stars), but you should read it more as a short story (it IS short). And do not expect Simon Vance to be the reader -- he is out of the story completely in less than 15 minutes.
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Narrator was good...great value.
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I haven't decided if the governess is telling the truth or trying to hide something about herself. Or maybe she is delusional.
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Much preferred the film - unusual for me. I usually prefer the book (or audiobook). In this case, the speed of the narration is such that it's very hard to understand. With printed text, it's possible to go back to the start of the (full page) sentence and give it another shot.
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First the good points; the production is clean and easy on the ear, perfect for attempts to scare yourself on a late night and in the dark.
But that's where it ended for me. With few exceptions, I was just irritated, mostly by the constantly elliptical nature of the prose and dialogue.
I'm not someone who shies away from complex language or plotting; I don't demand instant satisfaction out of a story, or things to be tidied away neatly, but the baroque sentence construction just had me sighing internally and wishing they'd get on with it.
Perhaps a work that's best suited to the printed page, at least as far as I'm concerned, but as an audiobook I derived very little enjoyment.
I wanted to read this book because I had seen so many TV and film adaptations that I wanted to know for myself what James was saying with regards to whether the governess was indeed having a ghostly encounter or if it was all in her mind. Much as I enjoyed this book, I am unfortunately none-the-wiser, and resorting to Wiki, can see that I am not the only one, with the 'reality' of the ghosts vs. the state of governess' mind a point of great contention. An interesting listen which I am glad I bought.
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