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This Gothic ghost story (384 pages) was published in February of 2018 by Penguin Classics. The book takes you to an isolated manor house. Melissa read The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Imagine a cold and dreary Christmas Eve. An unnamed narrator describes the scene: Guests are gathered in an old house to celebrate the holiday by telling ghost stories.
One of the guests tells the tale of a governess hired to care for an orphaned brother and sister. Miles and Flora are routinely described as distractingly beautiful, oddly silent children. The poor little lambs have been sent to live at Bly House, the estate owned by an uncle who has zero interest in raising them.
The two imps lead the governess on a merrily deranged lark that leads to the question: Was the governess haunted by real ghosts, or did her sanity slowly slip away in the isolation of the mansion?
Little Miles is one of the most unsettling characters to ever grace a page; his preternatural maturity in a tiny, wide-eyed package is chilling. The governess — with her timidity and a nervousness bordering on quiet hysteria — is equally unnerving and a most unreliable narrator.
This novella has intrigued literary critics for more than a century thanks to James’ skill in creating both confusion and unrelenting suspense for the reader. In print, this book can be a tough commitment, but the riveting audiobook — with Richard Armitage as the scene-setting narrator and Emma Thompson acting out the other roles — is a stage play for the ears with gripping, dynamic voice work.
The summer had turned, the summer had gone; the autumn had dropped upon Bly and had blown out half our lights. The place, with its gray sky and withered garlands, its bared spaces and scattered dead leaves, was like a theater after the performance — all strewn with crumpled playbills. — Henry James
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
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