Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James

Henry James classic ghost story is on my "LOST" list of to read books, and, it being Halloween time, I thought it a perfect time to pick it up. And it was too, the chills provided here are slow but deliberate, much like a fog that creeps up on an evil night.

The story centers on a governess hired to watch over two charming children. The governess instantly falls in love with them, and believes they can do no wrong. Then she begins seeing apparitions, evil disturbing images that she finds resemble and very well might be the children's old caregivers, and she suspects that not only can the children see them, but that they might be in league with them. (Shivers!) Though the story is told by the governess, you never quite know if the ghosts are real or imagined, and as the weather turns cold, the children get mischevious, and the fog settles in, the air of disturbia wraps its warm cloak around the characters until you feel practically suffocated in its embrace.

James' writing is from another era, the Victorian, Gothic era. It is both beautiful and bold and very hard to understand. I found myself at times wondering what I had just read, and rereading, just to catch the meaning, and I think this took a bit from my enjoyment of the story. It's like being woken up by a cat in the middle of the night so you never quite get a full night's rest. Still, what James does is slowly layer the story with complexities that leave you unsure of what exactly happened, as if you encountered a ghost yourself and were unsure of whether it was real or not.

It's a fun book to read, delightfully twisted, and what better time to read it than the spookiest time of the year, when the weather turns and leaves die and the cold fog settles in late at night.

No comments: