What Maisie Knew (1897)

Henry James
Vintage Books (2007)

Unsuspecting couple in 1890s gives birth to a demon child capable of dissolving marriages, destabilizing moral standards, and inspiring tortuously complicated sentence structures.  Like me, you may never know exactly what Maisie knew, but you will ask, in the words of Aretha Franklin, "who's zoomin' who?"  Be sure to bring a pad of paper to make character notes so that you can maintain some degree of coherence through the various name-changes and passing side-flirtations that complicate the otherwise simple premise of Maisie's biological parents dumping her in the care of her new stepmother and stepfather, who then fall into some horribly dysfunctional co-dependent relationship that eventually brings them to France.  In the end, having destroyed the lives of all those around her, Maisie  decides to go live with her frumpy governess, who somehow remains immune to the child's evil. 

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