Florence & Giles by John Harding

Just finished reading Florence and Giles by John Harding.  Apparently this is something of a homage to James Henry’s Turn of the Screw.  I’ve never read TotS so I can’t say how similar or not this is to the original although the names, for example, are curiously similar, Flora and Florence, Miles
and Giles, etc. Actually, I’m sort of glad that I haven’t already read TotS because the similarities would probably have annoyed me whereas
reading this without the constant comparisons made it a really enjoyable read.

I thought this was a really well told story. The narrative is provided by Florence in a fairly unusual style.  I think at first it is probably a little disconcerting because Florence has adopted her own unique style of communicating, however once you become used to her narration it is both quaint and amusing.  Basically Florence and Giles are orphans who have been placed in the care of their uncle.  Their uncle has no interest in them whatsoever and no intention of changing his own lifestyle in the city so he dispatches the children to his country house where they are cared for by the housekeeper Mrs Grouse.  The house is somewhat neglected and as the staff are all newly appointed there is very little history or family detail to be gained.  At first the children live a fairly solitary existence although their needs are provided for and they enjoy each others’ company with Florence almost taking a protective role over her brother, that is until he is sent to school.  At her Uncle’s instruction Florence is not to be educated but unbeknownst to the staff and in defiance of her uncle she has educated herself and spends the majority of her time hidden away reading the vast wealth of books that remain untouched on the dusty and neglected shelves.  She is then befriended by the neighbouring boy, Theo, and far from being lonely her time is overtaken by events.  Then in a strange twist Giles returns home and is to be home schooled by a governess. I’m not going to elaborate further on the plot.

This is a strange book to describe, is it a ghost story or a psychological thriller? There is a definite gothic feeling and parts of the story are positively chilling.  I was not at any point bored or tempted to skip lines or put the book down and as already mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It starts off fairly simply and at first appears straightforward but everything is slowly turned upside down.  The ending is gripping and terrible. That’s all I can say about that really without giving more away, and, its amazing how your feelings are played with and twisted. Oh, it’s so annoying not to be able to say more because it really would spoil the plot yet I find myself even now thinking back and mulling over and asking myself questions and running over things.

Anyway, long story short, I thought this was really good.  It promised a gothic tail and it didn’t disappoint.

I would recommend.

Rating A

Florence & Giles

Florence & Giles

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2 Responses to “Florence & Giles by John Harding”

  1. Wendleberry

    I’ve had this on my wishlist for over a year! I hope i get to read it eventually, it sounds like just my kind of thing.

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s a good book – with a twist at the end!
      Lynn 😀

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