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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This is another classic from the James collection. What Maisie Knew is a masterpiece- the reader has an ant's eye view of the adult world through Maisie's eyes. Essentially we witness the violent pumelling of a young child by her parent's manipulative scheming; she is used throughout as a go-between and epitomises,sadly, the position many children find themselves in when...
Published on 19 Oct 2006 by G. Stephens

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3.0 out of 5 stars Divorce
The story is about the social impact of divorce or the breakdown of marriage to accommodate personal agendas. It is relevant today.
Published 9 months ago by Jenifer Ehreth


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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 19 Oct 2006
By 
G. Stephens "Blah, blah, blah" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This is another classic from the James collection. What Maisie Knew is a masterpiece- the reader has an ant's eye view of the adult world through Maisie's eyes. Essentially we witness the violent pumelling of a young child by her parent's manipulative scheming; she is used throughout as a go-between and epitomises,sadly, the position many children find themselves in when a divorce is handled terribly by parents. Maisie becomes intertwined in an adult world of bitterness, violence, sordid affairs and irresponsibility yet luckily, the tale is saved from the depths of sordid tragedy by the lovely Mrs. Wix who takes Maisie under her wing, so to speak, and shows real affection. James very much enforces the notion of parental responsibility in this incredibly poignant tale of a little girl.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Maisie tell us, 7 Jun 2009
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At a dinner party in 1892, Henry James heard about an unusual divorce settlement in which the child was not, as was usual given to one parent to bring up, but was to alternate between them. Interested in the potentialities of this situation, the seed thus planted grew via a short story, into a novel published in 1897.

The narrative voice telling the story is filtered largely through the child Maisie's perceptions of events and allows her to be the innocent observer, to see all the moral inadequacies, failings and deviousness of adult life without any clear understanding of what it all really means. The reader, however, older, wiser and no doubt more cynical than Maisie, can see the reasons for her perpetual changes of residence between parents, step-parents, nurse and governesses and all the games they play with her life and happiness, for what it really is. This is novel is about the lust and the selfishness that James perceived to be at the centre of London life at the turn of the century.

It is a humorous, warm story, despite the subject matter and it is written with a wit and lightness of touch that allows the reader to observe these deviousand morally frail grown-ups who exert power over Maisie as not without charm. They themselves are buffeted by forces beyond their control. Money, or the lack of it, is central to the experience of all the main characters, all of whom feel entitled to be rich or acquire riches through their own sexual attractions.

The delightful Sir Claude who has real affection for Maisie, the narrowly moral Mrs Wix and Maisie herself, are all great comic creations. The style, as always with James is demanding, slow paced and needs to be read slowly. The pay-off however, is a novel of great richness and satisfaction for the reader. It anticipates later novels such as Atonement and Lolita, both of which, of course, are sexual explicit. Nonetheless, James' novel's acknowledgement that sexual trading is the basis of his society's currency is still shocking, even for readers today, who might have expected otherwise from innocent and more distant days. Plus ca change...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the movie, 11 Dec 2013
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This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Kindle Edition)
Very interesting to compare with the recent film. The book shows everything through the child's eyes and lets one draw one's own conclusions about the other characters. The film turned it into yet another story about how a (pretty) child can draw a couple of adults together and help them find happiness. Typical Christmas film stuff. The book is much more disturbing -- it's hard to tell whether, at the end, Maisie is in the happiest possible situation or in one that will be stifling and unfair to her developing intelligence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, 1 Oct 2013
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This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Kindle Edition)
I like to read a Henry James novel every year or so: I love the clarity of his thought and the ethical dilemmas that he presents to his characters (and his readers!).
This short novel is incredibly modern in its subject-matter: a little girl, fruit of a loveless marriage who is neglected by both her parents. Maisie is a very attrattive child to the reader: never precocious or irritating. James pulls off the incredible feat of an unmarried, middle-aged man writing from a child's prespective, and his writing is both believable and moving.
Read it and be prepared to have your heart broken!
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5.0 out of 5 stars successful adaptation of the original novel, 2 May 2014
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This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Kindle Edition)
The adaptation to modern times in America manages to represent the feeling and message of the Henry James original surprisingly well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly Maise, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Kindle Edition)
Beautiful prose, and very rewarding read.

To see the world through six year old Maisie's eyes was a revelation.

She was led and yet in the end she was in charge, in a funny sort of way.

She did indeed know everything.

P Coxon
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3.0 out of 5 stars Divorce, 27 Nov 2013
By 
Jenifer Ehreth (Paris) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
The story is about the social impact of divorce or the breakdown of marriage to accommodate personal agendas. It is relevant today.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read!, 12 Oct 2013
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This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Kindle Edition)
Having seen the recent (excellent) film of the book, I thought I must read it. Unfortunately, it is very hard work. The writing is dense upon the page and very 19th century. It is rather unpleasant and somewhat repetitive. The material is depressing, of course, because the story is about selfish parents who actually don't like and so ignore their daughter. I was so glad when the book finished!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 6 Oct 2013
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This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Kindle Edition)
I decided to read (or maybe re-read) What Maisie Knew after seeing the recent film, mainly to see how true the film was to the book. Have enjoyed Henry James in the past, but found this book to be almost unreadable - so many sentences needed reading more than once to try and make sense of them - and abandoned it half way through.

I'd take the film every time, despite a typically Hollywood revised ending.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not easy!, 5 Oct 2013
This review is from: What Maisie Knew (Kindle Edition)
I recently saw and enjoyed the film "What Maisie Knew" so thought I would read the book on which it had been based. I found the book interesting and could compare the characters to the ones in the film. It's also interesting how attitudes have changed since this book was written. It's not an easy read though - long, long sentences which require concentration.
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What Maisie Knew (Wordsworth Classics)
What Maisie Knew (Wordsworth Classics) by Henry James (Paperback - 7 Aug 2002)
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