I closed the book when I finished. I stared off into space with a distinct feeling of "uh. ok...moving on..." The biggest criticism you'll ever hear of Henry James is that his multi-clausal sentences and page-long paragraphs are convoluted and confusing, but I've never had a really problem with them. I actually think they way he phrases things mimics the way we move from thought to thought to thought in a connected but sometimes bizarre way. I thought his style was brilliant in The Portrait of a Lady, but here I just..stopped caring.
What Maisie Knew is about a young girl whose parents get divorced and ferry her back and forth, using her to make the other miserable whilst generally being slutty and inappropriate in front of the kid. Both parents remarry, picking slutty and inappropriate people as spouses. Sluttiness and inappropriateness ensue. Maisie is one part very perceptive and 4,503 parts the witness of conversations and situations One Never Does Or Says In Front Of Children. So while the entire book is a criticism of the selfishness of some parents and an interesting look into the mind of a child, I spent a BIG HUGE LOT amount of time going YEAH BUT WHO SAYS THAT IN FRONT OF A KID.
If you're in the particular mood to remember what it's like to be a child who knows more than adults think you do, and who sometimes manipulates adults so you can continue knowing more than they think you do, this would be great for you. Like always, James is insightful in a way that makes you bat yourself around the ears and yell GET AWAY FROM MY BRAIN, JAMES. However, I don't know if Maisie's story is worth all the work you have to put out to understand WTF is going on half the time.
But The Portrait of a Lady is totally worth it. Go read that instead.
Two stars out of your mom. Eh, maybe three. Two and a half?