Maisie is an innocent six year-old, torn between her divorced parents, pathetically isolated yet tragically involved. The only emotional constant in Maisie's life is Mrs. Wix, a motherly old governess.
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A great reader reads a great writer
Unexpectedly Modern Story, Beautifully Read
Maisie appears to be the pawn of her feckless, self-involved parents; and then the adored darling of her subsequent stepparents. The story is told more or less from Maisie's point of view. We only know as much as she does -- no, let's take that back. She might know far more than we realize she knows. Who is playing who in this bitter game?
It's a psychological study, alive to every nuance of expression and unstated communication, but Maisie, as all humans do, remains a mystery. I'm sure some perfect comparisons will spring to mind as soon as I finish this review. But it's safe to say that if you found Turn of the Screw unsatisfying, you will not like this either. James hands you nothing but complexity and ambiguity. In other words: life.
The very last scene. It is not a spoiler to say that it is a play on the title of the book.
I returned to this book after seeing the updated movie version of the book with Julianne Moore and Steven Coogan as the irresponsible, self-involved parents. But in the film, Maisie is played by a darling girl whose sweetness is touching and beautiful. Here, Maisie is far more complex.
Maureen O'Brien does an amazing job capturing the accents (with all the class connotations) as well as the emotions of the characters, which requires great insight into both human nature and literature as well as great acting skills. I will search out more books read by her.
- Jenny Jenkins