The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James
Penguin Books, 2010. 120 pgs. Fiction
A young woman is hired to be the governess of two orphaned children who are under their uncle’s care, out on a country estate. Upon hiring the governess, the uncle, who lives in London, informs the governess that he does not want to be bothered with any details about the children’s concerns and to handle them on her own. Puzzled about that stipulation but determined to do her best, she sets out and realizes she couldn’t ask for better children and a better situation, until she starts seeing ghosts.
I had some hopes that the slow beginning might be setting a stage for a creepy story, but it fell flat. Many readers will find that the governess’ first-person narration actually hinders the story; a major theme is her own mental state, and some readers will find the ambiguity of the reliability of the narrator to be irritating. The only thing going for the book was that it was short.