Daily Archives: November 8, 2011

Review: ‘Florence and Giles’ by John Harding.

It’s 1891 and Florence is neglected by her guardian uncle. She’s left in a decrepit New England mansion, miles from anywhere, and is banned from reading. Left alone in the house with her younger brother Giles and a group of servants, Florence teaches herself to read against her uncle’s wishes and talks to herself. During the night, Florence sleepwalks and is worried about a dream in which Giles is threatened. Sometimes, Florence fakes her sleepwalking in order to find more out about her shadowy past.

Following the death of their first governess, her replacement – Miss Taylor – mysteriously appears and Florence becomes convinced Taylor is the malevolent spirit intent on doing her brother harm.  With no adults to confide in, Florence is left to deal with Miss Taylor herself.

This is a wonderful ghost story with many twists and turns. Initially, the way in which Florence narrates the story is hard to get to grips with but it is a very original narration and I felt I really was really reading a child’s account.

The relationships between Florence and her brother, as well as the adults around them are well-explained and the friendship between Florence and her asthmatic friend is a great side story. I don’t want to spoil the story but there is a lot of ambiguity at the end. I would have preferred more resolution.

A wonderfully gothic read.

Vic x