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Book Ramblings

Long winded reviews

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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James Spooky old house, creepy kids, very nicely narrated free audiobook. What’s not to like? Just about everything else as far as I am concerned. The protagonist is a gabby unnamed governess who sees dead people but ain’t afraid of no ghosts. In the meantime there is something very fishy about the two beautiful children in her charge, I imagine their omega-3 level must be through the roof.

Seriously though, one must not diss the classics even if one does not like them, it is very bad form. Certainly with The Turn of the Screw Henry James leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination. He provided some vague clues about the governess, the children and the ghosts and leaves the reader to draw their own conclusion about whether the ghosts are real, what are the children’s problems? Is the governess suffering from a severe case of missing marbles? For some reason the biggest mystery seems to be why was the creepy (but cute) boy Miles expelled from school? Is it because the teachers are mean and he is just another brick in the wall? A lot of people like that the author is leaving so much for the readers to interpret for themselves. The way I see it, if I have to draw so many conclusions for myself then what am I paying him for*? Perhaps that was the whole point?


I am also surprised that some people find this book scary, I find it about as scary as an episode of Scooby Doo. The ending is not so much WTF as WTF-throw-book-at-wall.

Having said all that rubbish I have to confess that The Turn of the Screw is probably a lot better than my limited capacity to appreciate it; certainly I am not going dissuade anybody from reading it. I can at least recommend the free Librivox audio book version, beautifully read by Ms. Elizabeth Klett who has very nice enunciation and a very pleasant voice. She has also done very nice readings for a few free Jane Austen titles, also E. M. Forster, Jane Eyre etc. Thank you Miss!

* OK, I didn’t actually pay anything for it but I consider myself shortchanged!


I have just been watching the 1999 TV adaptation of The Turn of the Screw on Youtube. For me it works much better as a TV show, somebody should have told Henry James that (though he wouldn't have understood what a TV is). It is much scarier than most episodes of Scooby Doo (except the one where Shaggy turns into a werewolf, that gives me the willies).

The TV show does hint fairly heavily that the governess is several sandwiches short of a picnic, though this is not necessarily Henry James' intent.