"The Turn Of The Screw"

The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

How did I not know this was a ghost story? I never read ghost stories. They're dark and creepy and I don't want or need all that creepiness bouncing around in my head weeks after I've finished reading the book. Serves me right for choosing a book without reading anything about it first.

It was, indeed, creepy, but there was so much melodrama that it became almost comical. Almost. You won't actually be laughing, especially as the story ends. Fortunately it was a short book; any more histrionics would have been too much.

Another thing that became almost too much was the awkward way Henry James puts sentences together. Has any writer ever used more commas? Take a look at these:

"When later, by the schoolroom fire, I was served with tea by the usual maid, I indulged, on the article of my other pupil, in no inquiry whatever."

"She passed that night, by the most tacit, and I should add, were not the word such a grotesque false note, the happiest of arrangements, with Mrs. Grose."

"I could only get on at all by taking 'nature' into my confidence and my account by treating my monstrous ordeal as a push in a direction unusual, of course, and unpleasant, but demanding, after all, for a fair front, only another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue,"

There were hundreds of sentences like that, some of them so complex I had to re-read them a few times to be sure I understood what he was saying. Not that I want any authour's writing to be particularly easy to read, but sometimes it seemed like James was working hard to make things more complicated than necessary.

All in all, I did enjoy this creepy, comma-coma inducing book, but I am hoping for a little more plot, and a little less punctuation, from the next James novel I read.


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