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Extended Audio Sample What Maisie Knew, by Henry James Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,585 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Henry James Narrator: Lorna Raver Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In this classic tale of the death of childhood, there is a savage comedy that owes much to Dickens. But for his portrayal of the child’s capacity for intelligent wonder, James summons all the subtlety he devotes elsewhere to his most celebrated adult protagonists.

In the aftermath of an acrimonious divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself shuttled back and forth between her father and mother and their new spouses, all of whom are monstrously self-involved. Neglected and exploited by everyone around her, Maisie herself becomes a pretext for sexual intrigue when her stepparents become attracted to each other. As Maisie opens her young eyes on this distinctly modern world, the death of her childhood provides Henry James with a vehicle for scathing social satire.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Reading Henry James is like putting a new faculty to the test. This is the true morality.”

    Anita Brookner, Booker Prize–winning novelist

  • Maisie embodies everything that James excelled at in fiction.”

    Paul Theroux

  • “The novel’s perspective faithfully aligns itself to Maisie’s thoughts, showing, on the one hand, the ironic comedy of the interactions of the self-involved adults and, on the other, restless, hyperalert Maisie’s shrewd assessment of those interactions…James’ old-fashioned commitment to the pursuit of verisimilitude meets with his growing interest in the area of consciousness to create a unique character in Maisie.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A technical tour de force depicting a sentient adolescent girl against a context of self-righteous parental failure and sexual irregularity…Not to be missed.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Gill Arbuthnott | 2/13/2014

    " How can a book in which so very little happens be so absorbing? I love Henry James! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Justin Evans | 2/10/2014

    " I didn't expect this to be so funny- like a drawing room comedy. Then you think, wait, is it still funny when one of the main characters is a young girl? And then you think, wait, is she clueless or just completely and utterly starving for love? And I'm not sure that was ever resolved. Would you rather live with people who use you for their own sexual ends, or a person who uses you for her own messed up moral ends? Funny, and then suddenly really, really sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jo | 2/7/2014

    " A book every social worker should read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kat | 2/5/2014

    " This was my second time through this gem; I can't possibly have appreciated it the first time! James was way ahead of his time in examining the fate of Maisie, whose parents are divorced. The greatest triumph of the book is the delicate and perfectly done consciousness of Maisie as she shapes herself to survive her unusual circumstances and grows in understanding of what is in fact going on around her. To fully appreciate what transpires it would be well to keep in mind the scandal that attached to divorce, perhaps especially in England, at the time the novel takes place; how unfit it rendered all it touched for society with the respectable upper crust. The ending of the novel is, I believe, less ambiguous than most of James's novels, but not less satisfying. "

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