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Florence and Giles Hardcover – 4 Mar 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Door; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (4 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007315031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007315031
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 326,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Harding was born in a small Fenland village in the Isle of Ely. After village and grammar school he read English at St Catherine's College, Oxford. Since then he has spent most of his working life as a freelance writer,writing for a variety of national newspapers and magazines.

His first novel, What We Did On Our Holiday was a huge critical and commercial success and was filmed in 2006 by Granada for ITV. It was followed by the much acclaimed While The Sun Shines, and One Big Damn Puzzler.

His latest novel, Florence and Giles, is an international bestseller, charting in Italy and Brazil.

He is currently working on a fifth novel to be published by Harper Collins in 2012.

For more information, including reviews of his books,author readings and photos visit John Harding's official website:


Product Description


“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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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Goth lady on 25 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful piece of Gothic writing, and I was totally gripped by this narrative, as told through the unique voice of 12 year old auto-didact Florence, whose idiosyncratic usage of the English language, culled from her extensive (but forbidden) reading in the old library of the spooky New England home that she shares with her younger brother Giles and the servants, is one of the joys of this book. Florence's colourful expressions are entrancing; thus, for example, she speaks of 'a sneezery of dust', of a visitor 'Gargerying his hat' (assume a Great Expectations ref.!), she describes herself as 'fairytaled and Rapunzelled in my tower', and, most delicious of all, (the phrase that really made me smile) when, speaking of her plans to thwart her sinister governess, she says " I would wasp her picnic".

Inspired by The Turn of the Screw, this story offers not one governess, but two, (or are there two?) and with her second governess, Florence plays a game of cat and mouse, convinced that the unpleasant Miss Taylor, who seems to have supernatural powers, is planning to harm her little brother Giles.
The question could be, who is the cat and who is the mouse? Can we believe Florence? For much of the book, I rooted for her and even at the very end, after every disturbing twist and turn, she had my respect.
I don't want to say too much about the plot, (avoiding spoilers!). The main thing is the book is full of tension and suprises and the ending is satisfyingly chilling. If you like ghosts, gothic and a sense of growing unease, try 'Florence and Giles' for yourself.
I read a lot of Gothic fiction, and this certainly didn't disappoint. A real gem!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
It was the quote which I have used as the title for my review which made me pick this book up. But, the problem with quotes such as these is that they can create huge expectations for the book to live upto. So, did it? Well yes, all in all, it did.
I do not want to give anything away for those who are eager to read it for themselves, so all I shall say about the plot is that it is similar to "The Turn of the Scre", but there are also important differences. The most obvious of these is Florence, who narrates the story for us in her own special language. Cleverly, Harding used the first part of the book to be just about Florence and Giles, building the story up slowly. This means that part two becomes a roller-coaster ride, but also that by the time you find yourself being pulled along by it, you also find yourself trusting Florence. Although her unique way of using the English language may not be to everyone's liking, she is such a strong character that I think the reader will be pulled into her story and her world regardless.
The climax of the book is deliberately ambiguous. Was the threat from their new governess real or imagined? And, just what was the real identity of Miss Taylor? This last point has a subtle refernce right at the end of the book, but it is virually left to the reader to put these pieces together. Personally, I liked this about the story. To not have all the answers can be a clever way of encouraging the reader to put their own interpretation onto what they have been told. Admittedly, there are some who would rather all loose ends to be tied up neatly, but not me.
As homage to "The Turn of the Screw", FLORENCE AND GILES is a triumph. As a stand alone, wonderfully gothic novel, it is also a great success. Would recommend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Madeleine C-W on 24 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book and found myself still thinking about it after I'd finished it; others have precised the novel so I won't do that; suffice to say if you enjoy reading a book of substance and enjoy the gothic genre too then this is for you. Was pleased to see that the author has another novel due out in August which I am looking forward to reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bibliodysseus on 14 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In late 19th century upstate New York eleven year old Florence and her younger half-brother Giles are orphans immured in the gothic pile that is Blithe House, looked after by a housekeeper and staff employed by their absentee guardian uncle. He does not believe in educating girls but Florence has secretly accessed the vast library and independently developed her reading and language skills.

In fact they are over-developed; leading to a penchant for synthesising new forms of words whenever she feels the standard lexicon is un-sufficiently expressive. It is her first-person account of events that we get throughout; her synopsis could read thus:

Her brother is boarding-schooled for a while and she friendships a boy from the neighbouring estate. But things pearshape when Giles quits school and a new governess is appointed (we learn a previous governess fatally-accidented on the lake). Florence suspects Miss Taylor is up to no good and witbattles her in a struggle that starts with polite sniping but soon gets life-and-deather.

The precociousness and resourcefulness of Florence, as well as her passion for books, is reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s Matilda; but Florence is older, lacks powers of telekinesis, and is working pretty much alone against an adversary more threatening than the comic Miss Trunchbull. Although you have to root for her, and fear for her welfare, her capacity for ruthlessness is more than a little concerning by the end.

It is hard to decide if Florence and Giles is aimed at the youth or adult market – it seems to occupy ground between the aforesaid Matilda and Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. (Which features similarly named siblings Flora and Miles in a not dissimilar environment).
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