I was pretty sure that I didn't care for Henry James
because I could not stand The Portrait of a Lady
. I may have to rethink Henry James because I thought The Turn of the Screw was great! I did listen to this book
on audiobook, and it was excellently narrated, so that probably helped me through James' verbosity.
I know that I would not have liked this book 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. That was before the time in which there were children in my life. There was more going on for me in this book than whether or not the governess was crazy, or whether or not the ghosts were real, or whether or not the children were good or bad. For me this book *was* a ghost story, but to me the ghosts were metaphors for the dangers that people fight to protect their children from.
There are constantly ghosts at the fringes of a child's life, threating to take that child away into a dark abyss, threating to turn, harm, kill, or possess a child, and for the person who loves that child there is a constant battle raging to make sure that doesn't happen. You do get to the point of seeing real or imagined danger everywhere, it gets easy to jump at shadows, and yes, sometimes those shadows really are full of dangers and peril. And then, just when you think you've done it, that you've successfully guided a child unharmed through the thicket, you turn and see that a shade has crept up and taken you unaware anyway.
Ghosts get all of us, though, don't they? None of us are undamaged by the things this world throws at us. Innocence is always lost. The question is, how long can we keep the wraiths at bay, and how much will those wraiths take from us once they break through? In this story, despite the fierce fight, they took a hell of a lot.