Snapshot reviews are short book reviews of around 200-250 words.
The Turn of the Screw
✨ Spoiler Free ✨
Author: Henry James
Publication year: 1898
Content warnings: Absent parents, mental illness, child death and paranoia.
The Turn of the Screw follows a young governess as she undertakes the care of two orphan children – Miles and Flora – at Bly, an isolated country home in England. Shortly after her arrival strange occurrences begin to plague the governess causing her to fear for the safety of the children she has been charged to care for.
This gothic novella is a well-known classic which has been highly acclaimed, debated and analysed. I’m a huge fan of gothic horror (it’s one of my favourite genres) and this captured that gothic tone, atmosphere and intrigue that I love so much. The atmosphere from the beginning was tense and eerie, complimented by the isolation of the setting, and it increased in intensity as the story progressed.
It provided a fascinating exploration of mental illness which was subtle and nuanced, yet also explicit. The relationship between the governess and the children was the core of the story for me. It was intense and at times questionable, but also the lens through which the narrative should be viewed through.
The ending felt abrupt, the ambiguities and mystery of the plot being left open to interpretation. Some readers will dislike that aspect of the book, others will like it. Personally, I’m in the latter crowd. I loved how abstract the plot was and how it enables readers to speculate and theorise. Despite enjoying the book, I feel that a re-read is necessary to fully appreciate the nuances of the story.
I’d recommend The Turn of the Screw if:
You are looking for an atmospheric gothic horror novella which abstractly explores complex issues such as mental health.
A Room of One’s Own
✨ Spoiler Free ✨
Author: Virginia Woolf
Publication year: 1929
Content warnings: misogyny (discussed) and sexism (discussed).
A Room of One’s Own is an essay examining the history of female writers and their success (or lack thereof) in the world of fiction. By tracing the origins of female authors, the portrayal of women in literature written by men and dissecting the barriers creative women have faced, it combined feminism and authorship to provide a critical analysis of the underrepresentation of female writers.
Despite being a short read, it packed a punch. Virginia Woolf’s passion and intellect dripped off every page. The focus on female writers was a fresh perspective that I hadn’t read about before. I found it particularly enjoyable and informative as a woman that loves to write and aspires to have a career in writing in the future.
The points made were well articulated and argued. Woolf highlighted that the absence of female writers from history was because of sexual inequalities. Women couldn’t own assets and were confined within the private sphere of the home where they were responsible for domestic duties and unable to indulge in creative pursuits. Her suggestion that the history of mental illness and witch hunts surrounding women might’ve been connected to the repression of women’s creativity was particularly interesting.
Whilst it was an illuminating and fascinating read which touched upon issues that resonated with me personally, I found Woolf’s writing style dry and meandering at points. I also would’ve preferred if Woolf had reduced the amount of content discussed and focused on specific topics in more detail.
I’d recommend A Room of One’s Own if:
You are interested in short, intellectual text which adopts feminism and gender analysis in the context of creative careers and authorship.
Have you read The Turn of the Screw or A Room of One’s Own or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you wonderful people that are celebrating 😊🍀
Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.