The Turn of the Screw

  • by Henry James
  • Narrated by Emma Thompson, Richard Armitage - introduction
  • 4 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Emmy winner Emma Thompson lends her immense talent and experienced voice to Henry James' Gothic ghost tale, The Turn of the Screw.
When a governess is hired to care for two children at a British country estate, she begins to sense an otherworldly presence around the grounds. Are they really ghosts she's seeing? Or is something far more sinister at work?
Having performed in films based on some of the greatest works in literature - including Sense and Sensibility, Howards End, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry V - Thompson is no stranger to the classics, and she lends a graceful eloquence to this moody, macabre story. Joined by listener favorite Richard Armitage, who performs the prologue, Thompson reinvigorates this psychological thriller of life, death, evil, and the unknown.

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What the Critics Say

"[Narrator] Emma Thompson gives the performance we expect from an Oscar winner. Most listeners don't think of Henry James as a passionate writer, but passion is there, and Thompson brings it out - and adds some of her own.... Thompson's reading will teach new listeners how to read the text - and perhaps James in general - and to understand why he's considered a genius." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great, but Mightn't be the Best on Audible

I really, really love "The Turn of the Screw," so this is my third version from Audible, and it's hard to judge as is, as opposed to judging in comparison to the other two that I have.
Let's take as is:
Emma Thompson is fabulous, really brings her acting chops to play, and what can you say? The woman is a powerhouse!
But, and this is where you'll have to judge for yourself, she reads as an older woman. I realize that the story is of an older woman looking back, so I understand why this might be appropriate for the book, but the character at the time is a very, very young woman. She is at a loss, wondering, at times she's near out of her mind, so that is why I prefer the Penelope Rawlins version. Because, even though Ms. Thompson delivers a masterful narrative, the dialogue, the interactions sometimes ring false with her more mature tones, with her poise. The character lacks poise at that age, so it's quite odd to hear such control.
Further, one of the joys of the story is that you never quite know what's real--it's up to the reader to decide for him or herself what is doing the haunting: Evil? or the governess as the conduit, the interpreter of what she "sees." If you lean one way or the other, the end is such that, chances are, you'll still wind up leaning that way. It's every man for himself and I know of two no such people who wind up in entire agreement about what exactly is determining the story here. And that's a delight! It makes for wonderful discussions afterward.
But Ms. Thompson's delivery kind of makes it seem as though there actually is only one way of seeing the whole story, which takes a lot of the fun out of it. The dedication of the governess to seeing one end comes off as rather harsh, strident, monstrous even--it doesn't leave much room for questioning. ...bummer...
Still, gotta love it! A governess overly beguiled and bewitched. Ghosts. Perhaps. Young souls hanging in the balance. How could the stakes be higher?
Great listen, beautiful language, compelling plot, mesmerizing characters.
And if you've gotten the kindle version, come back and choose the Audible versions you'd like!
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- Gillian

Wanted to Love it

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I was somewhat disappointed with this selection. I think I may have had too high an expectation. Emma Thompson, Gothic story, Henry James how could it not be fantastic? Something was just not quite right, still not sure what


Would you recommend The Turn of the Screw to your friends? Why or why not?

No, probably not. It was not very compelling. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and one of my standards is how well it holds my attention and I had to actively listen for this one to keep me engaged.


Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I think Emma Thompson's narration was an interpretation and unfortunately it missed the mark. At times it was too breathy and frantic, if trying to convey a sense of urgency the story should have conveyed without this added affectation. Other times it bordered on the pedantic, which is a shame because prior to this I would have thought I would have enjoyed Emma Thompson reading the phone book.


Could you see The Turn of the Screw being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

In the right hands it could be however this story is very much a psychological journey. Are the events of the story really happening or is this the overwrought imagination of an impressionable young woman?


Any additional comments?

I have found the narration of famous actors and actresses to be somewhat uneven. This would be an example of a miss, Kate Winslett and Mathilda would be an out of the park homerun. I really think I prefer the work of narrators who primarily do voice work, they enhance the story, the written word without eclipsing it.

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- Phyllis

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-15-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios