Customer Review

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true psychological ghost story., 12 Nov 2003
This review is from: The Turn of the Screw (Penguin Popular Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
This isn't an easy book to read. Although it is short, Henry James's leaden, over-wordy prose (to a modern reader) can feel like wading through thick mud. But the respect that is owing to it is because it really is a supernatural story with a difference, and you'll be happy putting psychological interpretations onto it until the cows come home. We start off in "Jane Eyre" territory with a repressed, introverted young woman being hired by a difficult and eccentric employer to look after two small children at a remote country house. Once there she believes they are all being haunted by an evil dead manservant and his equally depraved mistress, who was once a maid at the house.
The governess is violently neurotic and repressed, to the point where we question her sanity (shades of Eleanor Lance in "The Haunting of Hill House). She seems to be tormented not just by the violent sexual relationship that was shared by Quint and his girlfriend, but by the wilful free-spiritedness of the children. Is she trying to hysterically suppress a terrible dark side of her own? There have been many stage and screen productions of this tale (including an opera), some of which, it must be said, have been awful. The most impressive by far though is "The Innocents", a black-and-white 1960s effort starring a superb Deborah Kerr as the governess. Well worth checking out. You will find it disturbing.
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