- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Blue Door (4 March 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007315031
- ISBN-13: 978-0007315031
- Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 440 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
Florence and Giles Hardcover – 4 Mar 2010
“You don’t need to know The Turn of the Screw to enjoy it. Real atmosphere is increasingly rare in novels and here it is in spades; mysterious towers, faces in mirrors, shadowy corridors and long black dresses. Like James, Harding keeps his dramatis personae tightly confined and ramps up the suspense and mystery until even the most careful reader wonders what’s going on and what isn’t. Your Twilight-reading teen will love it too. A darkly glamorous tour de force.”
Wendy Holden, DAILY MAIL
“Florence and Giles is an elegant literary exercise worked out with the strictness of a fugue: imagine Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw reworked by Edgar Allan Poe…Nothing prepares you for the chillingly ruthless but inevitable finale.” THE TIMES
“Brilliantly creepy” DAILY MIRROR
“An intriguing read” GRAZIA
“A good, clever, modern take on old-style American gothic; a creepy haunted house tale in which the living are just as eerie as any real or imagined ghouls.” NEW ZEALAND HERALD
“a scarily good story, in an arrestingly unusual narrative voice.” THE OXFORD TIMES
About the Author
John Harding was born near Ely. He is the author of the bestselling What We Did On Our Holiday, made into an ITV drama starring Shane Ritchie and Roger Lloyd Pack. He is a book reviewer for the Daily Mail and lives in London.
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Florence lives in a large house in upstate New York in the 1890s. Her parents have met tragic ends, so she and her half brother Giles live in their uncle's house. The uncle is not there, but his retinue of servants are quite capable of looking after the children. But owing to his own sad past, the uncle makes just one stipulation: Florence is to be denied any form of education. Giles, on the other hand, is allowed to go away to school for all the good it will do him.
No matter, Florence has secretly taught herself to read and has devised ingenious ways to access the forbidden books in the well stocked family library... Telling her story in a curious secret language (consisting principally of verbing any and every noun she can think of), Florence seems both odd and endearing. We feel for her; we despise the injustice of keeping a woman away from learning; we tremble as the servants threaten to stumble on her guilty pleasures.
What unfolds has been compared to The Turn Of The Screw. I'm not sure that is quite fair. Sure, it's a gothic little ghost story, but whilst The Turn Of The Screw has a hidden double meaning, Florence And Giles is rather less coy about it. By the very end, there's really only one way it can be read. It is still a damn fine story, full of tension and twists, full of atmosphere and history. But it isn't The Turn Of The Screw.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I adore gothic novels and unreliable narrators and, in this book, we get both. The mood takes over the reader from the very beginning, weaving its spell until we are right there in the 1890s. Florence, our protagonist is a fabulous creation, with a vocabulary all her own and a way of narrating that makes for really fun reading. At first, her sentence structure was a bit jarring, but as the pages passed, and we get used to her voice, we feel like she is speaking just for us, in a highly confidential manner.
The story itself is fascinating, with lots of mystery, but I do have to say the ending was disappointing. There were so many plot points left dangling, so many situations that were built up throughout the whole book and then not solved. It was very disappointing. I'm not sure why the author thought the story would be better off without some answers. I realize Florence is an unreliable narrator, but even knowing that, there could have been ways to let the readers know a bit more about what really happened.
I did enjoy the book right up to the very end, so it is hard to say it's not worth reading. I don't know. Give it a chance, I suppose, and see what you think.
it grew on me and by the end I was completely understanding why Mr. Harding wrote it this way. I came to adore Florence in this and I will
admit that the last third of the book took me completely by surprise. A very, very well-done thriller.