After her parents’ bitter divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself shuttled between her selfish mother and vain father, who value her only as a means for provoking each other. Maisie—solitary, observant, and wise beyond her years—is drawn into an increasingly entangled adult world of intrigue and sexual betrayal until she is finally compelled to choose her own future. Published in 1897 as Henry James was experimenting with narrative technique and fascinated by the idea of the child’s-eye view,What Maisie Knew is a subtle yet devastating portrayal of an innocent adrift in a corrupt society.
The New York Review of Books: What Maisie Doesn't Know
Goodreads: What Maisie Knew by Henry James
Let's set the scene...
Max: All right, so Henry James, the man of the moment. Pick your book. Read it carefully. A full report on my desk one week from today. Any questions? Ms. Gilmore, any questions?
(Paris pushes her book onto the floor to get Rory's attention.)
Max: Ms. Gilmore?
Max: Did you hear the assignment?
Rory: Um no, I'm sorry.
Max: Henry James. Pick your novel. A report on my desk in one week. You got it?
Rory: Yes. I got it.
(Bell rings. Students get up to leave.)
Max: See you tomorrow.
Because Mr. Medina asked his students to pick a Henry James novel, I picked What Maisie Knew. My friendHot Mess had recently seen the 2012 film adaptation of this novel and just hearing the story secondhand raised my blood pressure in a way I just can't resist. So a tale of parents using an innocent child as the pawn in their twisted toxic relationship it was!
I'm not sure how visceral reaction I would've had if I had read this before I had a daughter of my own, but I do... so I wanted to STAB ALL THE PEOPLE THROUGH EVERY SECOND OF MY READING!
And as the greatest compliment, this book made me want to read the rest of James' work. I know I get to read Daisy Miller later in my challenge... and now I'm excited.
Who do I see reading this in the Stars Hollow gazebo?
Throughout the show, we realize that a lot of Paris' anger and inability to trust people is due to the self-centered people she was raised by. It's clear that their own issues trump that of their young, impressionable daughter. Paris is what Maisie could end up as without her own Sir Claude.