The Hauntings of Hill House and Bly Manor

How far can an adaptation veer from a source text and still be based on the original book? That is the question I asked myself when I watched The Haunting of Hill House, and again this month while watching the Haunting of Bly Manor.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a fantastic novel, and yet the television adaptation barely touches on the original story. The screenplay writers used the names of characters and the setting/location and developed a new plot. Inspired by would be a more accurate description of its relationship to Jackson’s novel. I wrote a review of the novel here -

The Haunting of Bly Manor feels much closer to the source material, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. We retain James’ structure of a narrator retelling the story of a governess who cares for two uncanny children at the ancient home, and although additional ghostly stories are added into the mixture it still feels more respectful of James’ vision. The weird thing was that I didn’t enjoy James’ novella very much, and thought the television adaptation was stronger all round, developing the characters in ways that made the story more powerful, frightening and easier to understand. My review of the novel can be found here -

Having only watched the television adaptations once each, I have decided to watch them again and write full reviews later. I suppose, as a writer myself, it disturbs me that Shirley Jackson’s book was changed beyond recognition, and I wonder how people who read the book second would have responded to her text.

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