6 Degrees of Separation: Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Six Degrees of Separation is a monthly book meme hosted by Books Are My Best and Favorite. A chain of 6 books is linked somehow–whether to all books or only to the one before it. A common book is given each month with which to start the chain.

This month’s starting book is Turn of the Screw by Henry James.


I have not read this one–though I’ve owned a Scholastic copy since the 1970s–it was published with Daisy Miller, which I have read. Here is part of the Amazon blurb:

[O]ne of Henry James’s most unusual novellas. In The Turn of the Screw, a governess is haunted by ghosts from her young charges past; Virginia Woolf said of this masterpiece of psychological ambiguity and suggestion, We are afraid of something unnamed, of something, perhaps, in ourselves…Henry James…can still make us afraid of the dark.

My Chain



While not a governess, and no ghosts are involved, the first book that sprang to mind was The Prime of Miss Jane Brodie by the marvelous Muriel Spark. I love this book!


An eccentric teacher in Edinburgh brought to mind Monarch of the Glen–about the eccentric household at Glenbogle Castle (not to be confused with the TV version–which was wonderful, but different) has not only eccentrics but also probably ghosts. I admit I haven’t read it yet. It’s been on my TBR since the 1990s.  Monarch of the Glen by Compton McKenzie.



Another castle with eccentrics and very, very likely ghosts, is that of Count Dracula in Transylvania. Amazing how like the cartoon versions this book was!  Dracula by Bram Stoker.


Transylvania always makes me think of “Transy” –Transylvania University in Kentucky. There are some spooky places back in hollers of Eastern Kentucky.  While they certainly didn’t live in castles, the “Blues” of the region could have been mistaken for ghosts. This book, from which is was alleged that JoJo Moyes plagiarized, tells their story. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson. (She should have got the movie deal.)



Another scary place that featured an eccentric but gifted teacher was Yamacraw Island, South Carolina. No castles here, but lots of local folklore that probably included ghosts. Author Pat Conroy taught at a one-room school on the island after attending the Citadel—the Military College of South Carolina. The movie version, Conrack, starred Angelina Joile’s Dad Jon Voight. I love this book–I love most of Pat Conroy’s books, but this one is really special because it is true. The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy. [FYI-The Story of English talks about the language of the coastal islands–very interesting,]



Another creepy place, with a ghost-like girl and probably an older English dialect, are the swamps and marshlands of the North Carolina coast. Kya Clark’s ethereal world of silent water and creepy trees is perfect for anyone missing a haunted castle but does not want to freeze to death. At least Kay’s world is warm and humid–not cold and damp. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.


So we’ve gone from a creepy governess on a creepy country estate with creepy kids haunted by a former governess to a creepy marshland in 1950’s North Carolina all in 6 books.

Next Month

November 7, 2020, is a wild card – start with the book you’ve ended a previous chain with, and continue from there (for those playing for the first time, start with the last book you finished reading).



11 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: Turn of the Screw by Henry James

  1. I love this chain. You took us on a very interesting ride (and yes, Richardson should have gotten the movie deal, not Moyes)! I didn’t know Conroy wrote a memoir… that actually sounds interesting (and I don’t red much non-fiction, and almost no autobiographies).


  2. How fascinating that you immediately connected The Turn of the Screw to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I enjoyed reading Dracula but haven’t liked any of the films, except for the TV film with Louis Jordan as Dracula, which as I remember it stuck pretty closely to the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure what, but that book came up first so I just went with it! Dracula was a much better book than I thought it would be, as was Frankenstein. I don’t like creepy but neither affected me. I supposed because the basic story was well known.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wanted to keep my chain scary this month but I definitely worked Dracula in! I’ve read and enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing as well.

    My husband and I took a “Ghost Tour” of Charleston years ago. I don’t know what I was thinking. I can read most horror all day long and still sleep like a baby. But make me watch a horror movie or go to a haunted house or tell me a ghost story that’s supposed to be true? I won’t bat my eyes for weeks. Needless to say, back in our big drafty room in the attic of an old bed and breakfast that night after the ghost tour, I made my husband switch sides of the bed with me so that I was tucked nicely against the wall with him between me and whatever ghosts might decide to pay us a visit. Neither of us slept that night, probably because we were on the wrong sides of the bed! It makes for a funny story now but it was a really long night at the time!

    Great chain!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such great choices! I actually read Monarch of the Glen very recently – you have to get used to McKenzie’s rather unusual style, but once you do it’s an enjoyable read, and an easy one too. I managed to weave some McKenzie (Whisky Galore, Extraordinary Women) into this month’s chain too.

    I really like the sound of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Water is Wide. The Deep South is fascinating to people like me, who live in such Northern climes. (I think that fascination may have begun with that Bobby Gentry song, and the album cover showing her walking across the wooden bridge!)

    I’ve not read Dracula but my daughters rate it highly, so I’d better try soon. I did, however. read Olga Wotjas’s Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace, in which Dracula makes a cameo appearance – and Miss Blaine is the ghost of the head of James Gillespie’s, the school on which Muriel Spark based The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie! (Olga, who is an Edinburgh resident, has Miss Blaine coming back as a ghost to get her former pupil, Shona, now a librarian at Morningside, to sort out various people’s problems – which involve Shona in time travel.) It’s a very well written and entertaining book!

    Thanks for all these book suggestions – one of the many reasonswhy this challenge is so good.


  5. Hang on, there is a Transylvania University in Kentucky? Why didn’t I know that? My family comes from Transylvania (or, rather, from the mountains separating Transylvania from the southern part of Romania), so yes, Dracula has been the bane of my life whenever people meet me and ask me where I’m from…


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