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I read The Turn of the Screw in middle school and have always remembered it as one of the most memorable and haunting things I've ever read. I've been meaning to re-read it for a long time now so I jumped at the opportunity to listen to it as an audiobook and was not disappointed. It was just as haunting and thrilling as I remembered. Great gothic fiction if you like that sort of thing. I have to admit I'm not 100% sure I know what happened in the end but for me that only adds to the intrigue and suspense. But there are many reviews of the novella itself so I'll go ahead and address the narration.
I was originally looking at the Emma Thompson version but was dissuaded by a reviewer who mentioned they preferred Penelope Rawlins because Emma Thompson reads the main character as the older woman telling the story despite the fact that the most of the events of the book occur when the main character is young and naive such that the more mature rendition comes across as unnatural and distracting. Despite no reviews of this version that I could find, I decided to take a chance on it and I'm glad I did. Penelope Rawlins was fantastic, handling multiple characters with ease and delivering nuanced emotions and reactions, always adding to the suspenseful, eerie atmosphere. As with the best narrators and actors, she became invisible so that the story shone through. This version also does an excellent job handling the complex frame narration style by having an additional male narrator - Ben Elliot, who is also fantastic - read the introductory framework. The effect is a seamless transition.
I listened every chance I got over the span of 3 days and was fully absorbed each time I listened and disappointed when I had to press pause - a feat many audiobooks fail to pull off. Highly recommended!
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