In a way, this is a modern day re-working of the Turn of the Screw, although the author has cleverly given the story a whole new twist. The book begins with Sallie, an American student in London, who is doing her thesis on the Henry James ghost story - or "Turn" as she refers to it. With this slight change in title, we have a sense that this story means a lot to her - it is something she personally identifies with. Sallie is a lonely and overly sensitive girl and a friend suggests she takes up nannying for the summer. Despite misgivings, mainly due to a previous experience baby sitting, Sallie gives it a try. When she meets Charles, he is a single father going to Hong Kong on business, who is desperate for someone to take care of his children in his country home. The children, Frances and Michael, have had varying au pairs and nannies and Sallie is determined not to become one in a long list. Staverton/Bly - Frances/Flora - Michael/Miles. The similarities build and the tension is masterfully done.
Although it helps to have read "The Turn of the Screw", the story gives enough of the plot and sense of atmosphere, that it isn't necessary. This is an extremely well written and very atmospheric story. Emails from Sallie's friend give a sense of reality in a situation that begins to spiral out of control. This would be a very creepy Halloween read and is a must for fans of Henry James. Excellent and highly recommended.