Florence & Giles by John Harding (Book Review) 

*I’m taking a little blog break so am re-posting some mini book reviews I did in one long post HERE at the start of this year. Here’s my mini-review of Florence & Giles…

Florence & Giles by John Harding

What It’s About: (via Goodreads)

In 1891, in a remote and crumbling New England mansion, 12-year-old orphan Florence and her younger brother are neglected by her guardian uncle. Banned from reading, Florence devours books in secret and talks to herself—and narrates her story—in a unique language of her own invention. By night, she sleepwalks the corridors and is troubled by a recurrent dream in which a mysterious woman appears to threaten her younger brother Giles.

After the sudden violent death of the children’s first governess, a second teacher, Miss Taylor, arrives, and immediately strange phenomena begin to occur. Florence becomes convinced that the new governess is a malevolent spirit who means to do Giles harm. Against this powerful enemy, Florence must use all her intelligence and ingenuity to protect her little brother and preserve her private world.

My Thoughts:

I grabbed this from the library as I’d been wanting to read it for a while based on The Times quote on the front cover: “Imagine The Turn Of The Screw reworked by Edgar Allan Poe”. It sounded like it would be all gothic & atmospheric but it was pretty disappointing.

A young girl in the late 1800s must protect her younger brother from a sinister & otherworldly new governess after the mysterious death of the previous woman who cared for them. The girl (and narrator if I remember correctly??) isn’t allowed to read but teaches herself & reads loads of books in secret. It’s caused her to develop a strange sort of language of her own and having to read the book with all her odd words took some getting used to (and was slightly annoying).

The girl also isn’t that easy to like and the book is extremely slow until finally picking up in the final half. It was a good story but not a very fun read. I actually think it could make for a great film if the right people were involved.

My Rating: 2.5/5

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Book Review)

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What It’s About:

On the morning of Nick Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, his wife Amy goes missing. The police immediately suspect Nick. The mystery unravels as we get to know Nick in present time throughout the investigation and Amy through her past diary entries.

My Thoughts:

This isn’t normally the type of novel that I read. I’m always reading Stephen King (or Dean Koontz when I need something lighter than King) or the tons of quite good young adult fiction that’s floating around these days. But sometimes I grab one of these best seller types for proper “adults”. I really did enjoy the story in this book and would possibly read one of Flynn’s other books in the future (after Doctor Sleep, of course).

This book is pretty much impossible to talk about without spoiling the entire story so I’ll have to focus more on the characters. It’s definitely the story that had me hooked. I always prefer when the main characters are likeable in books and in Gone Girl they definitely aren’t. Nick & Amy got on my nerves. They’re both writers (absolutely nothing wrong with writers! I’d love to be able to be a writer!). But sometimes I find this a little annoying in books. I know you often “write what you know” so that’s why books so often feature writers (hell, King is the worst for this & I love his stuff). Nick & Amy are both a little pretentious & totally selfish and the things they do and the way they act just didn’t feel very realistic. The way they bicker is more like a couple who has been together for YEARS & maybe had kids and all that – it’s hard to believe a marriage is so awful after only five years but, then again, they both seem like extremely hard people to live with. Amy’s parents are odd, her ex-boyfriend is weird, and past situations involving Amy are too far-fetched. For a smart guy, Nick is a dope who does some idiotic things. The best character is Nick’s twin sister – she provides some laughs. And the main investigator is okay. But none of the characters in the book felt “real” to me, even though they were very well written. Gillian Flynn does do a great job fleshing them out & I felt I knew them very well by the end of the book – I just didn’t “like” them.

The story, however, is great. Lots of twists & turns that constantly keep you guessing. I take ages to get through a book but I finished this one pretty quick as I wanted to know what would happen. I liked how the story is told from two sides (Nick’s story as it happens & Amy’s story through her diary). It was an interesting way to get to know the characters. Unfortunately, the first half of the book was better than the second half and the story does fall apart a bit. Then… The ending. I won’t say a word but that must have divided people. I wasn’t crazy about it but it sort of makes sense. It will be interesting to see what they do with the movie. It could make a very good movie if done right. It’s being made by David Fincher so it has potential. However, it’s also starring Ben Affleck so… Maybe not. SO wrong for the part of Nick! Rosamund Pike doesn’t seem a bad choice for Amy, though, so we shall see. Oh, and Doogie Howser is in it, too.

Summary:

Gone Girl is an exciting psychological thriller that constantly keeps you guessing with its twists & turns. Flynn has written a very entertaining story that seems destined for the big screen so I’m not surprised that we’ll be seeing the film soon. The main characters, although unlikeable and almost impossible to relate to, are richly developed & very complex and you’ll feel like you know them by the end of the book. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thriller with a good mystery you won’t have completely figured out by the second page.

My Rating: 3.5/5