James's chilling ghost story of innocence and evil
One summer a young governess is sent to take charge of Miles and Flora, two beautiful, charming orphans living in a country house. But silence covers their past. Then the servants reappear who, before they died, had looked after the children. As winter closes in, the young governess struggles to keep her charges from the unnatural influences which they seem strangely to desire.
Terror makes this a ghost story, while uncertainty makes it horrifying. Are the apparitions the governess' invention? And if so, does the evil lie not in the children, but in love–sick young women– and in adult society itself?
The most comprehensive paperback edition available, with introduction, notes and chronology of James Life and times
The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghost stories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. But in the hands of Henry James, the master of nuance, this little tale of terror is an exquisite gem of sexual and psychological ambiguity. Only the young governess can see the ghosts; only she suspects that the previous governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children (a girl and a boy) for some evil purpose. The household staff don't know what she's talking about, the children are evasive when questioned, and the master of the house (the children's uncle) is absent. Why does the young girl claim not to see a perfectly visible woman standing on the far side of the lake? Are the children being deceptive, or is the governess being paranoid? By leaving the questions unanswered, The Turn of Screw generates spine-tingling anxiety in its mesmerized readers.