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Washington Square Paperback – October 25, 2013
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<DIV>"Lorna Raver doesn't just read this book; she inhabits it." - --AudioFile</div>
About the Author
Henry James (1843-1916), the son of the religious philosopher Henry James Sr. and brother of the psychologist and philosopher William James, published many important novels including Daisy Miller, The Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl, and The Ambassadors.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is a woman's narrative of her haunted surroundings and her duty to protect the children she is to care for. While some author's would focus on scenery or character, this story focuses, obsessively so, on the narrator's thoughts, examinations, and speculations – almost akin to Poe.
The story told is ultimately satisfying and rewarding. I would guess the book would lend itself well to a second reading because it is complex in its ambiguities and subtleties.
It is a challenge to describe the plot without spoilers, but I will try. An unnamed young governess is hired by a man to take care of his young orphaned niece and nephew. Her only instruction is not to contact the uncle at all. The governess accepts the position at Bly, a large and well-appointed country home. There are a few staff and the niece Flora. The governess is captivated by the goodness of Flora. Her brother Miles is at boarding school, but is suddenly expelled and sent home with no explanation. She finds Miles to be an exceptionally good child as well and cannot imagine that he did anything wrong. The governess begins to see apparitions. She discovers that she is seeing a former handyman and former governess, who were having an affair. They are both since deceased. It becomes clear to her that the ghosts are communicating with the children and the children welcome the relationship. The seemingly innocent children go to great lengths to do the bidding of the ghosts. Disturbing things happen as the governess tries to save the children.
If you like your stories to have a neat and tidy plot and ending, this is not the book for you. Many aspects of the story are unclear, including the motives of the ghosts and the children. It is possible that the governess is insane and there are no ghosts. Personally, I think this is a better ghost story because you are left to wonder. It is more chilling not to have things explained. My only quibble with the book is the writing. Even taking time period into account, the sentences are clunky and cumbersome. I was never able to get into the rhythm of James' writing. For me, this lessened some of the suspense and creepiness of the book. Even so, I am glad I reread it.