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Tighter by Adele Griffin

TighterJamie’s not quite sure why she decided to take a job as an au pair at Little Bly this summer. It’s true that she probably needs to take a break from wallowing in the unhappiness of her own life, but she’s not so sure that Little Bly will be any better, since she doesn’t know anyone there. At least her charge Isa seems to be a sweet girl and Jamie has her secret stash of pills for emergencies. Things take a turn for the stranger when Jamie finds out about the accident the summer prior that took the lives of Isa’s former au pair and her boyfriend—and that Jamie looks startlingly similar to her predecessor. Nothing, though, is as bizarre as when Jamie starts to see their ghosts. She’s not really sure why her connection to the dead couple is so strong, but when strange things start happening around the household, she’s convinced that their presence is sinister and real. But with the number of pills that Jamie pops daily, how can she be sure what is real and what is imagined anymore? And will she be able to figure this out before it drives her over the edge?

I was interested in reading Tighter from the moment I heard that it was a modern retelling of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I read that classic a few years ago for an English class, and it was an intriguing, if not necessarily the most enjoyable, experience. I wanted to see how Griffin would adapt and add to this creepy tale of mystery and delusion, and I am pleased to say that the results are spectacular. Griffin builds very loosely upon some of the major elements in The Turn of the Screw’s setting and plot but makes it her own with her modern heroine Jamie, a girl struggling with the remnants of a failed relationship, standards she feels she can’t live up to, and a possibly serious addiction. The entire story is just brilliantly crafted with a complex and utterly realistic protagonist and many exciting surprises. If there’s anything that felt off about this book, it’s that some of Jamie’s dialogue felt slightly outdated at times, even if that does add to her character and charm. Overall, though, with all due respect to the master Henry James, I have to say that Griffin’s retelling of his classic is immensely more satisfying than the original.

Tighter will be enjoyed by both those who have and have not read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This novel also appeals to fans of Possessed by Kate Cann.

Rating: 4.5

Review copy from personal collection

1 munch(es) :

Leila said...

Ooo. I was a huge, huge fan of Possessed, so I'll bump this one up the pile. Thanks!

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