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The Turn of the Screw | [Henry James]

The Turn of the Screw

One of the world's most famous intellectual ghost stories, The Turn of the Screw is a haunting tale of suspected supernatural possession. A governess at a country house claims that Miles and Flora, two orphaned children in her care, are being controlled by spirits for some evil purpose. No one else can see the ghosts, and the children themselves are silent. Are they being dominated by spectral forces, or are they hiding something? Is the governess simply paranoid, or is something else going on?
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Publisher's Summary

One of the world's most famous intellectual ghost stories, The Turn of the Screw is a haunting tale of suspected supernatural possession. A governess at a country house claims that Miles and Flora, two orphaned children in her care, are being controlled by spirits for some evil purpose. No one else can see the ghosts, and the children themselves are silent. Are they being dominated by spectral forces, or are they hiding something? Is the governess simply paranoid, or is something else going on?

With its possibly ambiguous content and powerful narrative technique, the story challenges the listener to determine if the unnamed governess is correctly reporting events or is instead an unreliable neurotic with an overheated imagination.

©2006 Henry James; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (120 )
5 star
 (29)
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 (38)
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1 star
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3.9 (71 )
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4.0 (71 )
5 star
 (27)
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3 star
 (18)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 03-12-13
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

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    "Compelling, creepy and rich in its ambiguity"

    My first exposure to Henry James was this tight little psycho-drama of a ghost story. 'Turn of the Screw' is one of those amazing little stories that twists the reader back and forth between the extremes of believing the narrator is legitimate in her fear of actual ghosts or believing she is simply mad. James' story turns on this dilemma. One slight rotation to the right and all bets are off.

    For a ghost story, I was far more creeped out by the two 'angelic' children, the vacant setting, and the remote English country house. Anyway, while not blown away by the story, I still found it compelling, creepy and rich in its ambiguity.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janna Wong Healy Los Angeles, CA 06-08-14
    Janna Wong Healy Los Angeles, CA 06-08-14 Member Since 2013

    I've spent my entire life around the written word - writing it, editing it, teaching it. So, it's no wonder I also love to read it!

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    "NOT ENGAGING ENOUGH FOR ME"

    I liked the setup, environment and even the ghosts but the language is so difficult that much of the story and characters are obscured. The main character is never really developed and neither are the children. The notion of the ghosts doesn't pay off (to me) and so I was never really engaged in the story. I suppose my sensibilities have changed with the times but the story of a governess who takes care of two children in a big country home that is haunted by the ghosts of the old governess and butler just didn't captivate me. It would seem that this setup is ripe for tension and terror but the language keeps the listener at such a distance that the emotions didn't ever heat up for me.

    In what could've been a terrific and haunting story with many layers and dimensions, instead, I found this to be a disappointment.

    On the other hand, the narrators were both excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Chatswood, Australia 01-03-13
    Michael Chatswood, Australia 01-03-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Strange, ambiguous - a dissatisfaction that lasts"
    What did you like best about The Turn of the Screw? What did you like least?

    It had a captivating tension that unfolded both slowly and rapidly. It had an ambiguity that created mystery. The ambiguity remained unresolved, creating ultimate dissatisfaction. But the dissatisfaction lasts in a way that is paradoxically satisfying. The (non) resolution left me annoyed, and as if I was supposed to have viewed the story another way all along.I suspect the reaction to it in the early 21st century may be quite different to when it was first written.


    Would you recommend The Turn of the Screw to your friends? Why or why not?

    Probably yes


    What about Simon Vance and Vanessa Benjamin ’s performance did you like?

    old English voices and modulating with different charactes.


    Do you think The Turn of the Screw needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I don't think this question makes sense.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 12-16-10
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 12-16-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Ultimately disappointing"

    The mystery is not a mystery to the modern reader -- only to the protagonist (who is not easy to like -- I simply didn't care what happened to her). The ending is too predictable -- and unsatisfying.

    The classic "gothic horror" tone is entertaining, I guess (that's why I gave it three stars), but you should read it more as a short story (it IS short). And do not expect Simon Vance to be the reader -- he is out of the story completely in less than 15 minutes.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 12-16-13
    Amazon Customer Utah 12-16-13 Member Since 2009

    tired teacher

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    "Ghost Story"

    I haven't decided if the governess is telling the truth or trying to hide something about herself. Or maybe she is delusional.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clarissa Blytheville, AR, USA 09-17-09
    Clarissa Blytheville, AR, USA 09-17-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Good Classic"

    Narrator was good...great value.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • Jamie
    Houghton-Le-Spring, United Kingdom
    3/3/11
    Overall
    "A little impenetrable"

    Much preferred the film - unusual for me. I usually prefer the book (or audiobook). In this case, the speed of the narration is such that it's very hard to understand. With printed text, it's possible to go back to the start of the (full page) sentence and give it another shot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sean Inglis
    Matlock,UK
    12/31/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great performance, interminable prose"

    First the good points; the production is clean and easy on the ear, perfect for attempts to scare yourself on a late night and in the dark.

    But that's where it ended for me. With few exceptions, I was just irritated, mostly by the constantly elliptical nature of the prose and dialogue.

    I'm not someone who shies away from complex language or plotting; I don't demand instant satisfaction out of a story, or things to be tidied away neatly, but the baroque sentence construction just had me sighing internally and wishing they'd get on with it.

    Perhaps a work that's best suited to the printed page, at least as far as I'm concerned, but as an audiobook I derived very little enjoyment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Beulah, United Kingdom
    1/22/10
    Overall
    "Good"

    I wanted to read this book because I had seen so many TV and film adaptations that I wanted to know for myself what James was saying with regards to whether the governess was indeed having a ghostly encounter or if it was all in her mind. Much as I enjoyed this book, I am unfortunately none-the-wiser, and resorting to Wiki, can see that I am not the only one, with the 'reality' of the ghosts vs. the state of governess' mind a point of great contention. An interesting listen which I am glad I bought.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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