The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

So, for some reason, and I’m sure it’s because I read it somewhere, I keep wanting to say the “Taming of the Shrew”. Is that a real story somewhere? Does anyone know where this literary mistake keeps coming from?

Michael Cunningham listed The Turn of the Screw as one of his favorite books (but not the Taming of the Shrew).

I liked this story. I wasn’t so wowed by it that I’m going to heap loads of praise on it right now. I think part of the lack of wow factor is that it reminded me too much of both Rebecca and Jane Eyre. However, the thing that I -did- like about The Turn of the Screw was that it was honestly something supernatural, not a thing that seemed supernatural but was not.

At the beginning, they have a group that meet together at a club and tell stories. While I was reading/listening (I listened to the first couple of chapters then switched to reading the book) to it, it reminded me of Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. Which, if you’re looking for a more contemporary ghost story, I highly recommend it. One of the only horror novels to ever scare me so badly that I nearly jumped out of my skin in a crowded public place (Village Inn) while reading it when Greg tapped my shoulder. It was cool though to think that it might be where Straub got his inspiration for Ghost Story (partly). I’ve also read at least one short story/novella from King that had a similar premise.

If you like ghost stories, and you have never read The Turn of the Screw, you must do so. In some ways, I think it was the real genesis of the literary ghost story. I did get a couple of shivers up my spine towards the end, so it is definitely worth it for that.

I think part of it was scary though because of being a parent. Like, there was nothing that could be done to really protect the two children that the book centers around. The story is about the governess’s struggle to do so. This is not me crawling up on some high handed “I’m a parent you aren’t so you don’t know nyah nyah boo boo”. I’m just stating that I think it created a different dimension to the creepiness I felt that would not have existed prior to having a child.

Definitely read this one. Even though I’m not cooing over it and not heaping mountains of praise on it, it’s a damn good story and not very long either.

Hope everyone’s weekend is fantastic and Happy Valentine’s Day!! (had my brain been more on top of things, I would have tried to pick out something more “love” appropriate. For example, the poetry of Pablo Neruda is in The Top Ten, and would have been perfect. But since Dave and I have approximately eight more years to go on this, I’ll just save it for a different V Day!)

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