“No, no—there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see—what I don’t fear!” — Henry James
Why I’m Reading this Book?
This book is coming under my radar as one of the smallest books so many times, I have to pay attention. However I don’t do it with joy because last time I read ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ by Henry James, I had to consult SparkNotes to confirm my understanding of story. And I don’t like such stories that make me feel like a moron. Anyways, when I saw the size of book, my cowardice took a step back and I’m ready to finish it in 1 day.
This is a story of an unnamed governess who finds herself in best of the situations, a handsome but not-intrusive master, big fat salary, two angelic children and complete control over them. But since first day, she senses evil in place, in people and sometimes in children. There is a sinister past associated to children and the place. She continues feeling out of her depth, meeting ghosts here and there, but she is equally determined to stomp them to nothingness and save the children.
Will she be successful? Are ghosts real? Are children evil? These are the ideas, whole story revolves around.
This story is full of ‘Is it?’ or ‘Is it not?’ Are children evil, is Governess stupid, are there ghosts, are servants and master complicit and so on. This story can be written in two pages if not for flourishing writing style of Henry James. Sometimes, he would start a sentence and after thousands comma, I would see a full stop and by that time I would forget what was it about. Read such example below:
It took of course more than that particular passage to place us together in presence of what we had now to live with as we could, my dreadful liability to impressions of the order so vividly exemplified, and my companion’s knowledge henceforth- a knowledge half consternation and half compassion- of that liability.
Call me an idiot, but I don’t like this sentence. I had to read 4-5 times to understand what the hell is this about. And after 5-6 episodes like this, I had to succumb to spark notes.
Although only 120 pages and 24 very small chapters, this book was a torture to me. Nobody and I mean nobody could elicit sympathy from me for them. I couldn’t care less for Governess, children, servants or master. I thought with every turn of the screw my mind is getting screwed. I wished for ghosts to kill everyone, then sprinkle holy water on themselves and be done with this story.
Through sparknotes, I could understand somewhat the significance of this story, but by that time I was too put-off.
My Rating — 1
On the scale of: (1- Hate , 2- Neither like nor dislike, 3- Like, 4- Love, 5- Gaga)
Why anyone else should read this Book?
Going by my experience, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However there are people who are way more intelligent than me or would like a challenge. I can say about this book that it’s very small and even if you hate it, you can finish it in less than a week.
Chapter analysis in SparkNotes might even make you like it. I don’t know, give it a try. It’s a classic, there must be something about it which I didn’t understand. May be I’ll come to it after 5 years, and I would be wiser to understand this little devil.
I can also recommend it to someone, who is having difficulty sleeping. This book might come handy, as I slept at least 20 times before finishing it.
Have you read it? Are you planning to? What is your opinion? Share them here. Till next time, Happy Reading Folks!!!
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