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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling and haunting Gothic treat--don't miss this superb page-turner !
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...
Published on 25 Mar 2010 by Goth lady

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2.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointing ending
I was really gripped by this book, wondering and thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. I couldn't figure out what exactly was going on, but in a good way! What was she, how did she fit into the children's lives etc. So by the time I got to the end I was ready for the big reveal...which never came! It's like the author got told to finish the book this instant so it...
Published 19 months ago by Bex


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling and haunting Gothic treat--don't miss this superb page-turner !, 25 Mar 2010
This review is from: Florence and Giles (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, chilling page turner, 12 May 2010
By 
Jill L. Mcgivering "jmcgivering" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Florence and Giles (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
5.0 out of 5 stars An imaginatively written, spooky tale, 5 April 2012
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly chilling, 25 July 2011
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Bookworm (South of England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Florence and Giles (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a hoot - in the gothic tradition., 4 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Florence and Giles (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read, 25 Nov 2011
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Original, funny in places and very, very scary. Utterly brilliant. Totally recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An All engrossing novel and thoroughly good read., 24 July 2014
By 
Madeleine C-W (Guernsey, Channel Islands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Florence and Giles (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves five stars for the wonderfully engaging voice., 15 April 2014
This review is from: Florence and Giles (Paperback)
Heavily influenced by The Turn of the Screw. A wonderfully creepy ghost story narrated by the unreliable Florence. It's the voice of this young narrator that makes it a five star book for me. Her own take on language, influenced by Shakespeare and the other books in the extensive library (that she is banned from entering) in her New England mansion home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make your next Read this book!, 9 Dec 2012
This review is from: Florence and Giles (Paperback)
In truth I can't remember how I stumbled upon Florence and Giles but stumble I did and all the gladder for it I am! Normally when the back cover tells me a book is 'genuinely creepy' ' read in one sitting' 'kept me awake at night' I usually find it's pretty tame and soon forgotten, this is the exception I assure you.

The character of Florence a 12 year old girl who taught herself to read is one of the most memorable I have come across, totally believable, full of spirit and one that stays with you long after the book is read.

The basic premise of the story is Florence along with her younger brother Giles live in there Uncles mansion that has seen better days and all seems to be going reasonably well until the new Governess arrives. Florence is a little fighter and will protect her brother from any perceived danger at all costs and this is where things start to get genuinely 'creepy' The characters are so well rounded that they feel familiar and as if the reader is reading about someone or people they actually know.

I don't want to ruin the story but if you want a good, old fashioned, thoughtful and highly enjoyable 'ghost' story the do yourself a favour and go read this!! You won't be sorry you did.

Excellent Christmas Read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping gothic novel, 15 Oct 2012
By 
Ms. Sarah L. Clarke (Birmingham, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is one of the best books I have read in a while. It amps up the tension right up until the shocking finale and at the end of the book I found myself questioning all that I had read previously and wanting to read it again to look for clues as to the final outcome, so intriguing and unexpected it is and yet at the same time obvious it would end that way.

Florence has a captivating and unusual narrative voice and I often found my inner voice adopting this unusual turn of phrase because she got into my head so effectively. Harding has created a beguiling lead in Florence and has a way of telling this story that instantly captures you and doesn't let go until it's over. I found this book very hard to put down because I wanted to find out what was going to happen but once it was over I was instantly regretful that I hadn't rationed it better.

I would recommend this book to everyone.
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Florence and Giles
Florence and Giles by John Harding (Paperback - 3 Mar 2011)
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