So a bunch of people are sitting around telling ghost stories over Christmas (you know, as one does) and this one guy is all, I have a story that will chill you! But it’s at home and I have to send for it, so you can all go ahead and wait. And that’s how tenterhooks were born.
The story finally arrives and he reads it and its this governess who takes a position looking after two wee chillens who are beautiful and perfect and good and innocent (which is sort of freaky on its own, no?) except that maybe they are communicating with and/or possessed by some wicked ghosts. Because the governess keeps seeing said ghosts, who are apparently the valet and the previous governess (who got knocked up by said valet and drowned herself in the lake [allegedly]), and they appear to be trying to get the children. Except that whenever the ghosts appear, the children make a POINT of REALLY DELIBERATELY not seeing them, even though the governess is sure they do. It’s pretty sinister.
But then also maybe the children really don’t see the ghosts because there are no ghosts because the governess is going mad? Because maybe they make a point of really deliberately not seeing them because they actually don’t see them because they aren’t there?!?!? And the housekeeper doesn’t seem them, even when they’re right there but maybe she just doesn’t have that ability? And I realize that I’m not making this sound very scary and loads of people read TotS and don’t stay up nights but few things terrify my shit more than ambiguity. Except maybe sharks.
I also feel like I should shoot you a disclaimer here and let you know that James is a mad over-commafier and no one thought to pelt him with periods, so his sentences get rull long and Victorian. Not like Lisa Appignanesi’s do, to the point where you totally lose track of where the sentence started, but enough to exhaust the old temporal lobe. But I find him Worth It.