The Turn of the Screw by Henry James… what a total waste of time. What is this story about? Why did I spend almost three weeks trying to get through Mr. James’ wordy nonsensical rambling? Is this supposed to be a ghost story? Am I supposed to take something away from this drivel? I don’t even know what the hell it was about. I don’t even know what happened in the end. If I didn’t have such a headache just trying to get through the damn thing, I’d try to re-read it so I can figure out what the hell I’ve been reading these past three weeks.
It took me so long to get through this short story because the writing was just so long-winded and intricate. Here is an example of what I’ve been suffering.
At the hour I now speak of she had joined me, under pressure, on the terrace, where, with the lapse of the season, the afternoon sun was now agreeable; and we sat there together while, before us, at a distance, but within call if we wished, the children strolled to and fro in one of their most manageable moods.
Seriously! I am a fan of eloquent speech, but this is just beyond over the top and the entire story was written like this. I had to read aloud just so I wouldn’t confuse myself. At any rate, I’m through bitching about Henry James’ writing.
Let’s talk about the actual story. Basically, it’s about a woman who is a governess to two young children. The boy was recently expelled from school and neither the school nor the boy would say exactly why he had been kicked out. The kids’ parents are dead and now they’re in the care of their uncle who made it perfectly clear that he is not interested in knowing anything about the kids.
So the governess is in the country with the kids and everything is going wonderfully until she starts seeing two unidentified people wandering around the estate. Nobody else seems to be doing anything about these two strange people, so the governess asks the maid, “Who are they?” The maid seems all scared and weirded out, but she explains that the former governess and her boyfriend had died of unusual circumstances. According the description the governess made, it sounded like she had just described the old governess and her boyfriend. So the new governess is like, “Okay, I must be crazy.’
For about 15 chapters, she is rambling on about whether these people exist or not. Does anybody else see these “ghosts” or is she the only lunatic. She asks the children and the children just stare at her in that weird child-like way, like whatever, bitch, we don’t know what you’re talking about. The maid is apparently simple minded and superstitious and doesn’t want to answer any questions, so the governess resumes rambling on for another five chapters.
Then one day, they’re all outside and the governess sees the old governess. She’s like, “Oh my God, there she is! Can’t you guys see her?” The little girl gets scared and says that she never wants to see the new governess ever again. Then she gets sick so the governess tells the maid to take the little girl to see her uncle, even though the uncle said he never wanted to see or hear about the children. So the maid and the little girl leave, and now the new governess and the little boy are still in the house.
So, this whole time the governess never knew why the boy had been kicked out of school. She didn’t want to ask him because… actually, I have no idea why she didn’t want to ask him… Right before the little girl got sick, the governess was going to send a letter to their uncle, but the little boy had stolen the letter to see if she had written anything bad about him. She asks the little boy, “Did you steal my letter?” The boy admits it, so the governess assumes that he must have been stealing at school and that’s why he got kicked out. The boy says he wasn’t stealing, he was “saying things.” But he never exactly says what he’s been saying, so … I don’t know either.
While they’re talking about being expelled from school, the governess sees the old governess’s boyfriend through the window. She freaks out, starts screaming about how they aren’t going to take the children away from her. The boy is like, “What?!? What? I don’t see anything!” But she clutches the boy to her chest, so he can never really look out the window to see the boyfriend.
And then the boy is dead.
Yeah, he’s dead.
No explanation on how he died. Was he scared to death? Did the governess kill him? What happened after that? Did the boyfriend come in the house? Were they really ghosts? Was the governess crazy? Was the little boy crazy? Were they all crazy?
Who even knows because that’s how the damn book ended.
Yeah, three weeks to have the book end so shittily, and this book is like.. a must read. Seriously? Who decided that?
You get an F-, Mr. James. Thanks a lot.
I’ll be starting Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte shortly. I’m warning you right now, Emily, you better bring your A game because I am not in the mood to sit through another stupid ass book.