Alicia's Reviews > The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
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's review
Aug 07, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: do-not-like

I read this during my years at university. I respect the book for the psyhcological/supernatural is it/isn't it? scenario. There is no doubt that Henry James is an excellent author. He builds up suspense, he writes characters with such finesse and delicacy that you really do not know who to trust, who is mad and who is just downright evil.

I think the plot is surprisingly simple, yet complicated. For me anyway. Personally, I had to read it at least three times before I understood what was even going on. I had hoped that once I worked out the children were "haunted" it would be relatively straight forward. No.

But then again, did I really want it to be straight forward? No! That is the charm of it. The novella works because no-one, no-one can say indefinitely whether the govnerness was mad or if she really did see ghosts.

Henry James favoured the Gothic genre and he manages to include Gothic without over stepping any stereotypical boundaries.

So, you must be wondering why I don't like it. I am very fickle when it comes to books. I will read books that I do not like just so that I have a more informed opinion of them. However, the reason why I don't like this novella is, stupid.

It gives me a headache. I find it hard to keep up with the govnerness and her deteriorating condition. When she is not arguing with the House keeper Mrs. Grose she is arguing with...anyone.
My headache and dislike of the of novella was intensified when I was the television adapation of it. I thought maybe I would understand it better and therefore like it, no. The govnerness's constant crying and moaning and arguing made me worse. I cannot and will not read this novella again.

But, if the novella was, as some critics claim, meant to be a psychological break down, maybe my headaches are just because Henry James really was that talented? Ha!

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