I had high hopes for this novel, particularly as it started out well and demonstrated that Richard Dansky has some writing talent. In the end, my lessI had high hopes for this novel, particularly as it started out well and demonstrated that Richard Dansky has some writing talent. In the end, my less than enthusiastic review comes down to two main factors, one of which is entirely my fault: namely that the "paranoia" theme - particularly in a small town where everyone seems to be in on "the secret" and is vaguely hostile to the newcomer - is one of my least favorite plot types.
Leaving my own preferences aside however, I can see that Richard Dansky has some original ideas and has a real talent for writing descriptive passages. After reading the book I could not only imagine what his parents' home looked like, but almost smell it as well. The only real fault I had with his writing was a "cardboard-y" feel to his characters that never let them move beyond one dimensional place holders. Even the narrator is described unevenly and his decisions and actions lack a coherent motivation.
That being said, I would definitely pick up another book by Mr. Dansky as he has all the potential to be a very fine writer. ...more
As most other reviewers have mentioned, Henry James' writing is extremely...dense. Sometimes while I was reading I had a vision of myself as a jungleAs most other reviewers have mentioned, Henry James' writing is extremely...dense. Sometimes while I was reading I had a vision of myself as a jungle explorer wielding a machete against the encroaching undergrowth, trying to find the path. Most of the time I enjoyed the challenge, but I have to admit that there were times I gave up on a particular sentence(s) and skipped ahead. Once you get past the style of writing, The Turn of the Screw is a story about...well, it's about "something". What that "something" is depends on who is reading the story and the interpretation they choose to give to it. Ghosts? Insanity? Child Abuse? Supernatural Forces? All of the above? As I said, it depends on who is reading it.
In my opinion the ambiguity of it is what makes it a classic. It must be extremely difficult to write a story that no one can pin down, even after 111 years. If you surf over to Wikipedia, you'll find the story described as "ostensibly a ghost story" that "has lent itself to dozens of different interpretations", and that no one has been able to "determine what exactly is the nature of evil within the story". I think would take some pretty impressive writing skills to achieve that kind of ambiguity.
I do think it would be very interesting to read a psychological study comparing people who believe the unnamed governess was protecting the children against a supernatural evil with the people that believe she is an Unreliable Narrator and can't be relied on to tell the truth. It might say something interesting about who we are, depending on what we believe.
Me? I put myself firmly in the Unreliable Narrator camp. For me the scariest part of the book was watching - from the inside - someone go insane and the consequences that has on the children. But that's just me....more