Review: What Maisie Knew by Henry James

what maisie knewWhat Maisie Knew (Movie Tie-In)
Penguin Books (May 1, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Classic Literature
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0143124634
E-Book File Size: 444 KB
ASIN: B0084AOXO2 (Free on Amazon as I write this.)


The inspiration for a new film starring Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan, and Onata Aprile

After her parents’ bitter divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself shuttled between her selfish mother and vain father, who value her only as a means for provoking each other. Maisie—solitary, observant, and wise beyond her years—is drawn into an increasingly entangled adult world of intrigue and sexual betrayal until she is finally compelled to choose her own future. Published in 1897 as Henry James was experimenting with narrative technique and fascinated by the idea of the child’s-eye view, What Maisie Knew is a subtle yet devastating portrayal of an innocent adrift in a corrupt society.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
 I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie.

The subject matter is so relevant today. A member of my family is going through a divorce with custody issues being the main issue with one parent using the child to hurt the other making it painful for all involved. I thought reading this story would give me some insight as to why people do this.

While the story is wonderful it is a very difficult read and that frustrated me several times. I would find myself putting it down, almost giving up, but I wanted to see how everything played out for this poor child shuttled back and forth between her parents.  The story does show that children know more than we think they do about the things happening around them.

As I fought my way through this book there were some beautiful and meaningful tidbits but I found myself mired by the writing structure. There were so many long sentences that seemed to go nowhere. Reading the story was very hard work. I almost felt like I was searching for buried treasure within the pages. I have read other Henry James novels, The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller, but that was some time ago and I don’t remember being this frustrated with his writing.

Now I truly can’t wait to see the movie so I can see how the story was adapted for today’s modern audience. I hope that it will not only be relevant and entertaining but easier. I had the feeling several times that I had to read this book, like for a school assignment and I was so going to flunk the test. 

still at the beach but not as tranquil


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Find out more about Henry James and his books here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


4 thoughts on “Review: What Maisie Knew by Henry James

  1. Thanks for the review! I had downloaded the book the other day and wondered about the writing style. I will have to see if I can get it read. It will be a while yet though. But thanks so much for reviewing it!

  2. Thank you for the review. I lost a giveaway for it and now i don’t feel so bad! The topic is what attracted me. Divorce is very hard on everyone but particulary the children. Just wanted to let you know that I have been ready your review but don’t have the energy to enter the giveaways. Found out that I have Lupus and that is making me super tired. Will be getting on medication in a few weeks so I hope to be commenting more.

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