James' paragraphs to begin with are a little thought still quite complex sentences. It seems easier to follow at the beginning. But I never dare make an assumption too strong at the beginning of a James story.
Something new and different: James changes who's perspective the narration is from. He changes from a listener at the gathering, to the whoman who's account it is.
James doesn't write his "ghost stories" in the typical manner that in current times; long, drawn out suspense and build up.
He uses a lot of words regarding light and a lot of nature references; particularly talking of the sky a lot. Also, with the lack of thick density of suspense, I wonder if a lot of the rest of the plot will have much to do with the ghost apsect, or just seem peripheral and superfluous - or maybe, rather, the ghost aspect will.
I like on 151 how she (or James through his narrator) talks about going to church, then refers to the "grown-up" dining room as a temple.
By page 187, I find myself a bit more frustrated than ever with James' style. I feel like the story has all this fluff and articulations that don't really give anything to it. They're just there because, as we all know all to well by now, James can.
She seems to start to detest the kids because she thinks they hide this secret. Page 198, "false little lovely eyes" - seems to say that their charma nd beauty is deceptive.
There's a sort of turn, to this degree (their hiding the secret) too that maybe I didn't comprehend as I was reading over it, but it seemed like James didn't straight explain it - that the kids, either Miles or Flora have told their governess that they do in fact meet with ghosts. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me that when Flora goes missing, and the governess knows that Miles is with Quint, she doesn't mind. Again, i may have just totally misunderstood something that implied a conversation or understanding between Miles and his governess.
Around page 207, I again am a little distracted with this part of the story, - what IS the theme? Is there one? I'm starting to think that James' stories are a lot more on the theme of "relationship stories" - which most stories in general are, so that's not much for theme for them. But every time I read one of his stories through the lens of "ghost story", I find it to be disappointing because it's such a small part. Save, the Jolly Corner and The Private Life.
Another aspect of James writing that I would say is definitely present is the obsessive. She becomes obsessed with these apparitions, and insistent on proving that the children know about them and are "friends" with them, of sorts. She's so obsessed to the point that she freaks out Flora and Mrs. Grose insisting that they see Miss Jessel, and Flora claims not to have. Then the governess goes out and has a fit, alone.
Then in the end, there's this strange effect of what might be something more in the relationship between Miles and the governess. It's borderline with all these references of their closeness, and their holding each other and talking. But it never quite crosses an obvious line, or not to me. It's hard to tell, during the time it was written waht would've been meant by "a kiss". Not to mention, because time is quite blurred, it seems like Miles (and Flora, for that matter) grows up sort of ambiguously throughout the story. By the end she's referring to him as a gentleman. And so abruptly, he dies. Sort of a classic Jamesian ending, I suppose.
I wouldn't say I minded this story, but I'd definitely say it felt a little discombobulated to me. At times I didn't know why I was reading it a certain way. As I said before, what its theme was or its point. It was a bit hard to have it keep my attention, with his wordy descriptions and seemingly unimportant detail.
I prefer James' shorter stories, if I have to sit through them. But maybe I'll have to read it again, and not all in one sitting. I might enjoy it more, as it's one of the longer pieces of his we've read.
- Alicia Losier