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The Turn of the Screw - Audiobook Review

The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, read by Anne Flosnik. Unabridged (5 hours) Tantor Audio, 2009. 

With the publishing world cranking out new horrors, mysteries, and fantasies at an amazing and sometimes frightening rate the Turn of the Screw is one those nineteenth century pieces of American literature that's easy to avoid. Well, don't.
This short novel remains one of most atmospheric, perplexing and downright creepy ghost stories ever written.

The scene opens with a young unnamed governess arriving at Bly, a country home in Essex County, England. She is to take care of two orphaned children, Miles and Flora. She's utterly enchanted by the surroundings, by her new job and almost intoxicated by the children themselves.

Veteran narrator, Anne Flosnik, does a wonderful job at conveying the swirling, swooning emotions that the governess goes through, thoroughly enamered by her little charges at first and then horrified and ready to defend them against the apparitions of two lovers that had once lived (and died) at the country home.

Flosnik equally shines at her ability to take on and make sense of the lush and utterly tangled prose of the late nineteenth century. It's take some careful listening. In this day and age nobody quite talks like Henry James wrote.

I often wonder how the original audience of high collars and high button shoes must've reacted to the Turn of the Screw which was published in 1898. They must've been horrified. I'm amazed at how sensuous this novel is. Everytime the governess sees her ghosts it's like a kiss in a summer garden. It's that humid and close.

The Turn of the Screw only gets weirder. And with Flosnik reading you can't stay away, you can't not listen. The final meaning of this "Trap for the unwary," as Henry James once called it, has been interpreted, reinterpreted and argued over by the critics for more than a century, but one things for sure, it's a classic.

Reviewed by Brian Price for AudiobookDJ


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