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Sunday, August 12, 2007

1001 Book Challenge - What Maisie Knew by Henry James

A moving book; one I should pick up again now I've got children. James was a master in piqued subtlety.

What does the 'what' in What Maisie Knew mean? Very good question. Maisie is a small child, caught between the relationship breakdown of her parents. Very few writers would be able to lace a pronoun such as ‘what’- which is usually used in a questioning manner, but is here left rhetorical and open- with such implied meaning. Maisie is a pawn in the game of a very adult world, and in time comes to play a complicit role in it. As the novel progresses she understands more the nature of the 'game', and recognises the players for who they are.

If ever we as parents are tempted to think we've kept all our secrets, our troubles, our idiosyncrasies, out of the lives of our children would do well to read this book. We are not great actors; and children are much smarter than we give them credit for.


Comments on "1001 Book Challenge - What Maisie Knew by Henry James"


Anonymous mcewen said ... (8:14 am) : 

You say it, we all know it - just a quick glance at our own parents confirms it.


Blogger Julie Pippert said ... (12:34 pm) : 

Oh oh oh...love love love Henry James. That's a classic.

And you are right: I know my kids miss nothing. They may not be able to verbalize or understand it but they pick up on it, and I can tell.

Ravin' Picture Maven


Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said ... (9:44 pm) : 

This is not a book I know, but it looks good.


Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said ... (6:56 am) : 

It is one of his lesser known ones, JLP


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