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Florence and Giles Paperback – 3 Mar 2011

118 customer reviews

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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,734 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 books have been published in twelve countries and translated into nine languages. His first novel, What We Did On Our Holiday, was shortlisted for the W H Smith First Novel Award and was a huge critical and commercial success. It 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 recent novel, Florence and Giles, an international bestseller, has sold more than 250,000 copies and has been optioned for a major film which is in development at the moment.

His latest novel, The Girl Who Couldn't Read, is the long-awaited sequel to Florence and Giles, although it can be read as a standalone novel by those who haven't read the earlier book.

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

4.4 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa-W on 22 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
I loved this. Of course there are the similarities to 'Turn of the Screw' but even so, this story is very much its own.

Starting out as a sorry tale of two orphans, Florence and her younger half brother Giles are wards of their reclusive uncle, who has arranged for them to live apart from him in a big, old house, half closed off and left to dust and dirt, with a skeleton staff to care for them; no visitors, no entertainment save what they make themselves, no friends except each other and what is worse, for Florence, condemned to illiteracy and ignorance by her uncle because of her sex. Wily and resourceful, Florence teaches herself to read and lives a secret life whereby she reads her favourite gothic tales in secret whilst appearing to be ignorant of all learning.
When Giles is sent to school, Florence has the run of the house, fretting over Giles' cryptic letters until he comes home at Christmas for good, being unable to fit in with school life. Subsequently a governess is hired for Giles whilst Florence must continue her feminine studies of embroidery. Although we don't get the full details, we learn that Miss Whittaker has tragically died in an accident with Florence the only witness and from this we begin to have our doubts about Florence....A very resourceful child, when the second governess arrives and seems to instinctively recognise how Florence has been fooling people, the game playing really begins. She senses that Miss Taylor is not really what she seems and that her interest in Giles surpasses that of governess-pupil. The story takes on more extraordinary twists pulling the reader into a mesmirising world that could be reality, could be fantasy.
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