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Florence and Giles Paperback – 3 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Door (3 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000731504X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007315048
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,134 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:

http://www.john-harding.co.uk/

Product Description

Review

‘Real atmosphere is increasingly rare in novels and here it is in spades…A darkly glamorous tour de force.’
Wendy Holden, DAILY MAIL

'Harding rings enough ingenious changes on James's study of perversity to produce his own full-blown Gothic horror tale. The climax of their struggle… is genuinely exciting and shocking.' THE INDEPENDENT

‘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

'A tight gothic thriller… The climax becomes unbearably tense. Florence feels the horror of her situation "cheese-grating" her soul, which is just how Harding leaves the reader feeling at the end of this creepily suggestive story.' FINANACIAL TIMES

‘Harding’s creepy, ingenious tale slyly wrongfoots the reader, and its deliciously sinister conclusion is the stuff of troubled nights.’ THE LADY

‘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

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on 25 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This quirky, idiosyncratic Gothic thriller is written in the tradition of such masterpieces as 'The Turn of the Screw' and 'The Woman in Black' but it is a genuine original. It is gripping, chilling, utterly engaging, and truly, genuinely scary (Miss Taylor is a particularly monstrous creation). Florence, the narrator, has an extraordinary way with words - denied a proper education, her oddly-used vocabulary is drawn from the books she reads obsessively in secret (quotes from her favourite works creep in unacknowledged from time to time too). The oddity of her narrative 'voice' lends edginess to the story and adds to the unsettling atmosphere. (You'll find yourself thinking in Florence-speak, too, after a while!) I absolutely loved this book - as Florence might have put it ... while I was reading it, my house remained unbroomed, I was book-in-handing for several days, utterly stunned by Harding's brilliant wordsmithery.
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34 of 36 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jill L. Mcgivering on 12 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written novel which is also a wonderfully Gothic thriller, complete with shadowy corridors, spooky mirrors and vulnerable, isolated children. The narrator is Florence, a young girl who is immensely likeable and engaging. One of the hallmarks of this novel is the peculiar, idiosyncratic language she has developed for herself and which pervades the book. One of the central questions too is how reliable she is as a narrator - is she right to be terrified of her "evil" new Governness with supernatural powers - or is she misreading the whole situation? It takes us the course of the novel to decide. Well-crafted and well-written as well as a fast paced ride.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jimmbob on 5 April 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I recently finished Florence and Giles and thought it was superb. The use of language made it a pleasure to read. Florence's peculiar vernacular is easily understood and at times more descriptive. Whether she's talking of a "Dustery of disregard", or explaining her current "Rapunzeled" state.

Some reviews have mentioned the ambiguity of the ending. I found having a, shall we say, perhaps not altogether reliable narrator in Florence gave it just the right amount. I feel that the clues to people's motives are there, and the book does tie most loose ends, while leaving you with enough space to draw your own conclusions. It's definitely one to read more than once, even if just to enjoy the playful use of language.

The story is deliciously gothic, at times very funny, and other times quite a sad tale. Anyone who has an interest in the classics will find this a fresh accompaniment.
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Adlam on 4 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback
The persuasive, yet seemingly not quite reliable young narrator, Florence, a fetchingly odd twelve year old whose days revolve around smuggling books from the library as she has been forbidden to learn to read, lives with her brother Giles at Blithe House -

"...a house uncomfortabled and shabbied by prudence, a neglect of a place, tightly pursed (my absent uncle having lost interest in it), leaked and rotted and mothed and rusted, coldly draughted, dim lit and crawled with dark corners..."

- the home of the uncle they have never met, with a few servants and the occasional governess. But the previous governess perished in an accident on the lake, and the latest - Miss Taylor - has aroused suspicion in Florence of sinister motives upon her arrival, being far too interested in Giles for Florence's peace of mind.

I loved this book for the fun that Florence has with language, for the sinister atmosphere aroused, the creepiness first peeking through Florence's observations and then asserting itself much more authoritatively, and for the unfolding of the mystery - John Harding doesn't over-clue the reader, but gradually allows us to intuit the motives and actions in Florence's narration - and, of course, for poor gallant, clumsy Theo, the gangly boy who steals kisses in exchange for poetry.

I haven't read 'The Turn of the Screw' by Henry James yet, it's one of my overlooked-for-no-good-reason classics. So, since other reviewers have pointed out strong ties (homage, retelling, reworking or revisiting, I didn't want to spoil either book for myself, so didn't dig too deep) there is at least one layer of story here that I've missed; hopefully I can still enjoy that aspect in retrospect.

Meanwhile, the book that Florence and Giles most reminds me of, is 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' by Shirley Jackson. It is paradoxically a lovely story and an awful one simultaneously, and the most fun I've had reading for a long time.
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