William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale – Plot Synopsis: Jessica’s Diary

William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale – Plot Synopsis: Jessica’s Diary



Being thirteen is difficult enough at the best of times – and Jessica is not having the best of times. Her mother, Rose, has recently become bedridden with a mysterious illness. Despite a battery of tests, none of the doctors know what Rose is suffering from, and when, or indeed if, she will get better. In this time of great stress for the family, Jessica’s relationship with her stepfather Mike has deteriorated sharply. The only pleasant thing in Jessica’s life is her new friendship with the boy who is working on the farm for the summer, the level-headed and practical Chris (16). Chris is an invaluable ally and confidant – for Jessica is beginning to believe that Mike actually hates her …

In this frame of mind, Jessica is vulnerable to a very eerie experience. In town to buy the week’s groceries, she stumbles across a little bookshop she has never noticed before. The bookseller who runs it – an elderly, sprightly man, with a faintly malevolent smile – selects a book especially for her: Jessica is even embossed on the cover. But how does the bookseller know her name?

When Jessica brings the book home she finds, to her astonishment, that it is the diary of a girl called Jessica Brown, exactly her age, writing exactly a hundred years before. The diary makes extraordinary reading – for the coincidences between the lives of the two girls do not stop there. Most striking of all is the relationship between the long-dead girl and her stepfather – who Jessica Brown detested …


It becomes clear, in fact, that Jessica Brown believed her stepfather was planning to kill both her and her mother in order to inherit the farm. And the story is unfinished: it stops abruptly on January 13th. Was Jessica Brown murdered, as she feared she would be?

Chris and Jessica search out the church records for more information. They find the record of Jessica Brown’s birth, and her grave, but no date. Could this old tragedy possibly have any bearing on what is happening to Rose? Could it be that Jessica Brown is somehow trying to warn the present-day Jessica of a terrible danger?
The diary begins to have a sinister sway over Jessica’s mind. As the 13th of January comes closer in the present day, Jessica becomes convinced that the diary was sent to her as a warning …

Chris has observed the development of Jessica’s obsession with increasing concern. He steals the diary, hoping that simply removing its presence might help Jessica. But the diary simply reappears in Jessica’s room – it seems neither of the children are able to destroy it until its task is done.

The thirteenth dawns with Jessica actually sick with apprehension. She is now certain that Mike has been slowly poisoning Rose, and that he will kill her, Jessica, too – if she doesn’t take drastic action … The poison she finds in the doctor’s bag when he pays a house visit seems a gift straight from heaven. Now completely under the diary’s evil influence, Jessica steals the poison – and pours it into the bowl of soup she has been preparing Mike.
Chris arrives in a terrible panic. In continuing his investigations he has had a great stroke of luck: he has stumbled across the name of Jessica Brown in an old newspaper.


But the story the article tells is not what Jessica has been led to believe. Far from Jessica Brown dying at thirteen, she lived to be an old woman – in an asylum. She was notorious in the district at the time for the murder of her stepfather – who she believed to be trying to murder her …

History is indeed about to repeat itself, and in the most hideous way. When the two children rush into the kitchen Mike is just polishing off the last of the soup … but that’s not the bowl Jessica gave him! They realise Mike has taken the poisoned bowl upstairs – to Rose …

In the nick of time Jessica races into her mother’s room and spills the poisoned soup all over the bed. As the replay of the hundred-year-old tragedy is thwarted, the diary disappears from Jessica’s room as if it had never been there.

On the same fateful day, Rose’s illness is at last diagnosed – she can be easily treated. Jessica is at peace – and finally, she comes to believe, so is poor Jessica Brown.