books, classics, review

Review: the Turn of the Screw and Other Stories by Henry James

I used to be an au pair, just like my mother and grandmother before me. I’m really proud of it and I loved the job! I heard about the Turn of the Screw, I was told it was horror story about a governess and two little children, and got really curious! I picked up this Oxford Classics edition and here’s my review!

A young, inexperienced governess is charged with the care of Miles and Flora, two small children abandoned by their uncle at his grand country house. She sees the figure of an unknown man on the tower and his face at the window. It is Peter Quint, the master’s dissolute valet, and he has come for little Miles. But Peter Quint is dead.

Like the other tales collected here – ‘Sir Edmund Orme’, ‘Owen Wingrave’, and ‘The Friends of the Friends’ – ‘The Turn of the Screw’ is to all immediate appearances a ghost story. But are the appearances what they seem? Is what appears to the governess a ghost or a hallucination? Who else sees what she sees? The reader may wonder whether the children are victims of corruption from beyond the grave, or victims of the governess’s `infernal imagination’, which torments but also entrals her?

‘The Turn of the Screw’ is probably the most famous, certainly the most eerily equivocal, of all ghostly tales. Is it a subtle, self-conscious exploration of the haunted house of Victorian culture, filled with echoes of sexual and social unease? Or is it simply, ‘the most hopelessly evil story that we have ever read’? – Goodreads website

I talked about the Oxford Classics many times before, but the reason why I love these editions is that they give background information on the author, but also have a list at the back with some help whenever the books use phrasing or words we don’t use anymore today, it explains the wording and really helps if English isn’t your first language or if you are just starting out with reading classics! Also, they are beautiful and look great on my bookshelves!

Now, let’s get to the book. I got this for the Turn of the Screw, but before we got to the main act, we had to read a few stories beforehand. I really didn’t like those stories, they were really boring and I feel like the author used a lot of unnecessary words and sentences which could’ve been easily cut to make the stories shorter. It didn’t stop me from getting to the Turn of the Screw though! I was determined to read this story as I felt it would make the entire book worthwhile. But it didn’t. The story was incredibly boring, it wasn’t scary at all (and I’m honestly the most easily scared person ever, so if I don’t get scared how in the hell does anyone else?) and it was about 40 pages too long. Again, a lot of unnecessary words and sentences were being used that would’ve made the story shorter and maybe even possibly better. I’m glad I read this book because now I know I really don’t want to read anything else by Henry James, and I can finally cross this off my list. Other than that, it just looks pretty on my shelves and that’s the only positive thing about this book.

I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads and if you still want to get a copy, you can get it here!

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