Tuesday, September 3, 2013

{Review} What Maisie Knew by Henry James

ISBN #: 978-0143124634
Page Count: 320
Copyright: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

After her parents' bitter divorce, young Maisie finds herself shuttled between her selfish mother Ida and her vain father Beale Farange, who value her only as a means for provoking each other. When both take lovers and remarry, Maisie - solitary, observant, and wise beyond her years - is drawn into an entangled adult world of intrigue and sexual betrayal, until she is at last able to cooperate in choosing her own future.

A subtle yet devastating tale of a crumbling relationship told from a child's-eye view, What Maisie Knew remains as relevant and vital today as it was when first published more than one hundred years ago.

Mandy's Review:

Divorce is difficult on the children involved, especially when the parents use the child(ren) as leverage in their disputes. Maisie is used by her parents. She'll live for a time with one parent becoming familiar with her routines and hearing all of the secrets being discussed. Then, when the parent Maisie is currently living with wants to irritate the other parent, they take Maisie to the other parent's residence. Nothing satisfies Maisie's parents more than to "dump" Maisie on one another knowing that it causes a disruption to their lives. Poor Maisie doesn't seem to have a loving parent to save her life. Throughout the entire story, Maisie is tossed back and forth between the two families. Nobody really seems to love Maisie, they only seem to love how she can be used.

I think I've realized that literary classics are not for me. It takes me a few chapters to even get involved in the story. By then, I'm able to look past the language and see the story for what it is. What Maisie Knew kept my interest for the first half of the book, but then the writing style overshadowed the story it was supposed to be telling. I struggled through the rest of the book. Just because it's not for me, though, I think that lovers of literary classics should give this story a try ... especially since there is a movie being made (has been made?) about it.

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

** This is #792 on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list.

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