Your audiobook is waiting…

The Turn of the Screw

Length: 4 hrs and 40 mins
4 out of 5 stars (2,691 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Emmy winner Emma Thompson lends her immense talent and experienced voice to Henry James' Gothic ghost tale, The Turn of the Screw.

When a governess is hired to care for two children at a British country estate, she begins to sense an otherworldly presence around the grounds. Are they really ghosts she's seeing? Or is something far more sinister at work?

Having performed in films based on some of the greatest works in literature - including Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry V - Thompson is no stranger to the classics, and she lends a graceful eloquence to this moody, macabre story. Joined by listener favorite Richard Armitage, who performs the prologue, Thompson reinvigorates this psychological thriller of life, death, evil, and the unknown.

Public Domain (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator] Emma Thompson gives the performance we expect from an Oscar winner. Most listeners don't think of Henry James as a passionate writer, but passion is there, and Thompson brings it out - and adds some of her own.... Thompson's reading will teach new listeners how to read the text - and perhaps James in general - and to understand why he's considered a genius." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    996
  • 4 Stars
    802
  • 3 Stars
    557
  • 2 Stars
    218
  • 1 Stars
    118

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,829
  • 4 Stars
    415
  • 3 Stars
    174
  • 2 Stars
    57
  • 1 Stars
    47

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    788
  • 4 Stars
    689
  • 3 Stars
    609
  • 2 Stars
    258
  • 1 Stars
    165
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 03-16-16

Great, but Mightn't be the Best on Audible

I really, really love "The Turn of the Screw," so this is my third version from Audible, and it's hard to judge as is, as opposed to judging in comparison to the other two that I have.
Let's take as is:
Emma Thompson is fabulous, really brings her acting chops to play, and what can you say? The woman is a powerhouse!
But, and this is where you'll have to judge for yourself, she reads as an older woman. I realize that the story is of an older woman looking back, so I understand why this might be appropriate for the book, but the character at the time is a very, very young woman. She is at a loss, wondering, at times she's near out of her mind, so that is why I prefer the Penelope Rawlins version. Because, even though Ms. Thompson delivers a masterful narrative, the dialogue, the interactions sometimes ring false with her more mature tones, with her poise. The character lacks poise at that age, so it's quite odd to hear such control.
Further, one of the joys of the story is that you never quite know what's real--it's up to the reader to decide for him or herself what is doing the haunting: Evil? or the governess as the conduit, the interpreter of what she "sees." If you lean one way or the other, the end is such that, chances are, you'll still wind up leaning that way. It's every man for himself and I know of two no such people who wind up in entire agreement about what exactly is determining the story here. And that's a delight! It makes for wonderful discussions afterward.
But Ms. Thompson's delivery kind of makes it seem as though there actually is only one way of seeing the whole story, which takes a lot of the fun out of it. The dedication of the governess to seeing one end comes off as rather harsh, strident, monstrous even--it doesn't leave much room for questioning. ...bummer...
Still, gotta love it! A governess overly beguiled and bewitched. Ghosts. Perhaps. Young souls hanging in the balance. How could the stakes be higher?
Great listen, beautiful language, compelling plot, mesmerizing characters.
And if you've gotten the kindle version, come back and choose the Audible versions you'd like!
For more reviews, of all genres, check out AudiobookAccomplice

177 of 194 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ambiguity, Precisely Rendered

Thirty-some odd years ago, at the prompting—or insistence—of a girlfriend, I tackled Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady. Three decades later, I still retain the sense of hopelessness as I slogged from one vast paragraph of convoluted inner meditation to another. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe what I remember as convolution was really excruciating precision--an exactness I lacked the patience to appreciate.

Fast forward 30 years. At the prompting of my wife (no, not the same woman), I have come to love Jane Austen—to scoff derisively at those who claim, “nothing happens” in her novels. I’ve never gone back to try Portrait again. But when Audible put The Turn of the Screw up for sale last October I thought it was time to give James another go. After all, I'm much older and maybe even a little wiser now. Or at least more patient.

This time the Baroque sentence structures made perfect sense; that complexity, so inextricably a part of the story being told, illuminates—even demonstrates—the perplexities of that story. Is the governess mad? Is she seeing things? Is she sane and the threat is real? Do the children commune with evil spirits, or has our narrator been at the Mysteries of Udolfo again?

Then there are all the dark things hinted at but never squarely addressed--unspeakable words and acts that are never spoken of. This, too, is another brilliant gambit: ghosts are hard to make believable--the less an author says the more the reader imagines.

Emma Thompson does it all more than justice, navigating every grammatical and dramatic switchback, getting each voice of her intimate cast just right.

Given my limited acquaintance with James, I was stunned that he was able to create so much authentic suspense. I was even more surprised to learn that this was just his most famous ghost story. He liked writing them, which somehow made this solid literary monument of a man more human.

A cursory Internet search made me aware of the critical fisticuffs that this story has been generating ever since its first appearance in 1898. The questions raised above are but the tip of that particular iceberg. For myself, I’d rather not have every question answered. Like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler in the next century, James knew the tidy ending is not only “unrealistic”, but slackens suspense. The wisest statement I found on the matter comes from Brad Leithauser, a poet I’ve admired for years:

“All such attempts to 'solve' the book, however admiringly tendered, unwittingly work toward its diminution [; its] profoundest pleasure lies in the beautifully fussed over way in which James refuses to come down on either side... the book becomes a modest monument to the bold pursuit of ambiguity.”

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Phyllis
  • Pleasant View, TN, United States
  • 05-03-16

Wanted to Love it

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I was somewhat disappointed with this selection. I think I may have had too high an expectation. Emma Thompson, Gothic story, Henry James how could it not be fantastic? Something was just not quite right, still not sure what

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

No, probably not. It was not very compelling. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and one of my standards is how well it holds my attention and I had to actively listen for this one to keep me engaged.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I think Emma Thompson's narration was an interpretation and unfortunately it missed the mark. At times it was too breathy and frantic, if trying to convey a sense of urgency the story should have conveyed without this added affectation. Other times it bordered on the pedantic, which is a shame because prior to this I would have thought I would have enjoyed Emma Thompson reading the phone book.

Could you see The Turn of the Screw being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

In the right hands it could be however this story is very much a psychological journey. Are the events of the story really happening or is this the overwrought imagination of an impressionable young woman?

Any additional comments?

I have found the narration of famous actors and actresses to be somewhat uneven. This would be an example of a miss, Kate Winslett and Mathilda would be an out of the park homerun. I really think I prefer the work of narrators who primarily do voice work, they enhance the story, the written word without eclipsing it.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 06-02-16

Young Governess; Big Lonely House:

Equals trouble! It happens every time.

"The Turn of the Screw" is an enigmatic classic of horror (or is it madness? Psychology?) It's been put on film and has a number of interpretations available on Audible. Having read and studied the print copy and having seen and heard it in several incarnations, I still happily went for this version.

So, how does Emma Thompson rate among "Turn of the Screw" narrators? I'd normally follow her anywhere, and this is a spectacular performance. The ominous atmosphere and rising suspense are wonderfully conveyed, and it's a fast-moving and satisfying listen. I do believe that one particular slant on the tale's motivations is highly favored here - one that can be more frighteningly ambiguous in reading the book.

Is it necessarily a bad thing to say that anyone who has heard Thompson's narration of "The Turn of the Screw" will find it difficult to see it any other way? I don't think so, but perhaps a newcomer to James' work should read this short book in print form first (preferably alone in a big, old house on a dark, stormy night!)

But Emma Thompson is awfully good - as, by the way, is Richard Armitage in his brief contribution.

27 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Emma Thompson is incredible!

I would not have been so enticed by The Turn of the Screw had it not been for Richard Armitage and Emma Thompson's incredible performance. The short novel is a masterpiece and a wonderful thriller. Would recommend this novel to fans of Victorian ghost stories, and novels like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Island of Doctor Moreau. Overall the experience of this audiobook was a 10/10.

16 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

An Exorcist, a Ghostbuster, or a Shrink?


Henry James is an author that is better left to the reading, which is something I was concerned about before I purchased the audio version of this Gothic Ghost(?) tale. His sentence construction is...well, different, difficult, wordy and at time paced intentionally to ratchet up the suspense. Emma Thompson is everything you'd expect, and I won't fault her for her interpretation, but it is HER interpretation of a book that is meant by the author to be interpreted by the reader, a style used often by James.

A prior reading doesn't give you very much of an advantage if you are left wondering "what the, who the, huh?" The story is still a conundrum to me after a prior reading (and I'm not dazzled enough to keep digging for the depth and meaning). While I like the concept of reader perception and the unreliable narrator, this story was too loose and wandered down a path too broad to keep the suspense taut and driven ahead with any reliability. It feels helter-skelter and loose. And that's my opinion in spite of how English Lit majors tell me that reflects on my Lit. IQ.

Some "classics" have to be read with a step back into the period from which they were created in order to stand up, and I feel this is one of those books. Listening to Thompson's emotional recollection of the events after the fact, I felt like I was on a runaway horse -- still trying to process some of the vagueness of the story while she raced ahead. It was difficult to envision the story aligned with my own perceptions of what was going on. There are better ghost stories, better Gothic pieces, and better works by James.

31 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C. Dedmon
  • North Grafton, MA United States
  • 04-16-16

What a treat!

Would you listen to The Turn of the Screw again? Why?

I would listen to this book again for the language alone. Henry James' phrasing is delicious.

What did you like best about this story?

Emma Thompson's performance was brilliant.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb performance of a chilling tale

Emma Thompson gives a singular performance. I was left with chills at the tale's end.

16 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Only Emma Stone made this bearable

I fixed that wretched text with a gaze both determined and wary, fought boldly against the droop of my eyelids and chastened myself, for, twas he not a master of such ghostly fare? But lo... I succumbed to that dark boredom born of fixed bold stares and long, slow contemplation of DOING something that would never be done... I fear by this turn, a full four hours and half again are screwed.

53 of 92 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A lot of work

I listen to audio books for fun and the outdated language in this classic dashed the fun out of it. I had to decipher the meanings of the words and strings of sentences. It reminded me of lit class in college.

Overall the story is a decent thriller. A nanny is hired to care for a couple children. The boy Miles is creepy from the beginning. As the story moves along he gets creepier and the nanny notices various 'otherworldly' occurrences. Throughout the story they get worse and she learns history about the family. I won't give away anything.

Other than the language, the wordings tends to be very flowery which maybe something common for the times the book was written. Overall it was okay, not my favorite and one I probably won't listen to again but I'm also glad I listened to it. It's something I should probably do more.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Maxwell Justus Mitchell
  • Maxwell Justus Mitchell
  • 09-29-18

A Strange Little Novel

I would advise you not to read this if you're looking for a "scary" horror novel. The text far more falls into the wheelhouse of literary fiction. Read as a work of literary fiction however, it's good - not great, not outstanding, but a solid read.

The fact that the reputation of the book precedes it actually acts to the detriment of the reading experience: Don't go into this expecting a masterpiece. It's a decent and blessedly short novel, and one probably worth ticking off the bucket list, but it's not going to blow you away.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Peter
  • Peter
  • 08-09-16

Not a ghost story

What did you like most about The Turn of the Screw?

This book is an excellent way of experiencing the inner life of a person with severe mental problems

Who was your favorite character and why?

The present governess- the sole source of the hallucinations. She is delicate, unsure of herself, anxious and constantly alert for warped interpretations of the behaviour and words of others, in particular, the two children; left in charge with no help available. A sure setting for trouble.

What does Emma Thompson and Richard Armitage - introduction bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Brilliant. Emma's voice suggests the complexity of the tortured mind. The American pronunciation of enquiry jarred somewhat.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

All is well with the governess left in charge....until the ghosts start to appear.

Any additional comments?

The title, 'Turn of the Screw,' epitomises the gradual increase in pressure that this lady experiences. Dramatizations turn this tale into a ghost story. It really is a page from a book on psychiatry fleshed out. 'For example' 'what to look for' the book is saying. Henry James had a brother William James, the famous psychologist and philosopher. Surely, they would have discussed the incidents that are described to make sure that they were true to life. The whole book is seen through the eyes of the governess. Only she sees Peter Quint and Miss Jessell. In her position alone with children, this governess is dangerous.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for bookylady
  • bookylady
  • 03-23-16

A Classic Ghost Story But I'm Still None The Wiser

Any additional comments?

I have been confused by The Turn of The Screw for Years. Having read and seen several TV/film versions of this classic, gothic tale of ghosts and evil spirits I have never been able to decide whether the main protagonist (the governess) was insane, a hysteric or a young woman who was completely up against it ,trying to cope with two vulnerable children in a position of overarching responsibility that was foisted on her by an absent and irresponsible employer. So I decided to try listening to the story to see if I could pick up any clues that would help me come to a conclusion.
The story started really well with an authoratative performance from Richard Armitage in the prologue. But the bulk of the story, narrated very ably by Emma Thompson, just didn't 'do it' for me. I don't know why. I think Emma Thompson was perhaps miscast. The voice was a bit too mature and measured I think. The chilling fear and sense of dread and horror that Henry James sought to express in the narrative just didn't come across.
I'm still none the wiser about the outcome or whether the governess imagined it all. But perhaps that was James' intention? Leave them confused and wanting more? Who knows but perhaps someone could explain it all to me!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Duncan Barrett
  • Duncan Barrett
  • 01-11-19

Great production

This is a shortish book but it’s one of the greats, and Emma Thompson provides a stellar performance. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Clavs
  • Clavs
  • 12-19-18

Gothic and Spooky excellently performed.

If anybody is in any doubt of Emma Thompson extraordinary skill as a performer, send them this audiobook.

I was utterly gripped by this gothic classic.

Governess alone in a big old house? Tick.

Suspicious circumstances of her employment? Tick.

Creepy children and mysterious apparitions? Tick.

I highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 11-19-18

Difficult language, beautifully read.

I found it quite hard to follow at times because the language is very complex. Unexpected plot though... and Emma Thompson was fabulous as ever.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ms T
  • Ms T
  • 02-13-18

Ghostly

I read this novella a couple of years ago and couldn’t resist buying this audiobook which is narrated by the wonderful Emma Thompson. As I remembered, this is a really spooky story. James’ language is weaving and complicated and in places, ambiguous. Is this actually a ghost story or is there something else...?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Xyz
  • Xyz
  • 05-28-19

lovely voice

Emma Thompson should narrate every audio book until the end of time. Every single one.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Starry eyed enigma
  • Starry eyed enigma
  • 02-18-19

An epic in horror ambiguity

First of all, what brilliant narration by Emma Thompson! The language of the book is difficult to follow, especially in the current age, but it is as spooky and befuddling as the author had written it out to be.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Cassandra Leigh
  • Cassandra Leigh
  • 10-31-18

Story well performed

A ghost story? Much is left to the listener's imagination. Clear, engaging narration. Quite enjoyed it.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for V. J. Hutchinson
  • V. J. Hutchinson
  • 02-14-18

Typical James

The narration was excellent but the author, as always, finished weakly. It is always disappointing when a strong story has no real ending.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for LC
  • LC
  • 07-17-17

Emma Thompson is perfection!

This was my first read/ listen of The Turn of the Screw and Emma Thompson's narration really made the story come to life.