Thursday, 15 September 2011

Florence & Giles

Florence & Giles by John Harding

Bought this one after reading Nicola Morgan's wonderful review of it. Sometimes a book sounds so refreshingly different to everything that's come before that you just have to buy it and read it yourself. This was no disappointment. If you like all your books to be much the same as each other, written in similar styles and following a similar plot, don't buy this one. If you enjoy new writing styles, unusual narrative voices and different plots then this has all that.

Florence is 12, and in 1891 lives in a mansion with her younger brother and a few servants. The children are orphans and wards of their uncle whom they've never met. Florence isn't supposed to be able to read or write - their uncle disapproves of educated women - but she sneaks into the library and has taught herself. She narrates the tale in her own, highly unusual but captivating style. A governess is hired for Giles, but she meets with a nasty accident which Florence rather glosses over, to the reader's increasing unease. A second governess arrives, whom Florence is convinced is the ghost of the first, come to spirit away her little brother. Weird things begin to happen, and the book becomes deliciously creepy and gothic.

Loved the book, loved the inventiveness of the language used, and loved its brilliant if scary ending.


  1. I also bought this on the back of Nicola Morgan's review (she should be on commission) but I felt rather disappointed by it. Yes, the language is amazing but it doesn't, for me, make up for the rather disappointing plot (particularly the ending). It read like a children's book and although it was scary to start with, it all just started to get a bit silly towards the end!

  2. Hmm, I rather liked the ending!
    But anyway, the uniqueness of the language means it's one I'd recommend, as an example of what can be done with voice.