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The Girl Who Couldn’t Read

(Florence & Giles #2)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,230 ratings  ·  177 reviews
A sinister Gothic tale in the tradition of The Woman in Black and The Fall of the House of Usher
New England, the 1890s. A man calling himself Doctor John Shepherd arrives at an isolated women's mental hospital to begin work as assistant to the owner Dr Morgan. As Shepherd struggles to conceal his own dark secrets, he finds the asylum has plenty of its own. Who is the woman
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Blue Door (first published April 12th 2012)
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Linda I didn't read Florence & Giles. The Girl Who Couldn't Read can stand alone. It does OK. Now that I read one reviewer's notes, I see how reading…moreI didn't read Florence & Giles. The Girl Who Couldn't Read can stand alone. It does OK. Now that I read one reviewer's notes, I see how reading F&G first would have it's advantages giving the second story more depth and clarity. (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Heather Drummond The author is dead now, so no :(

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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  1,230 ratings  ·  177 reviews

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Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
A year or two ago I read a book called ‘Florence and Giles.’ It was a deliciously gothic tale; a reimagining, a distortion, of ‘The Turn of the Screw'; and the centre of it all was the most wonderful character.

Florence was trapped in a gothic mansion, she was forbidden to read, but she found a way to learn and to keep that secret, and she loved reading and words so much that she developed the language she read, making nouns into verbs, joining words in unexpected ways to make gloriously
Asghar Abbas
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I was really hoping this would be my February Ghost Story Read, It, and it was.
That is a lie. Wait and see, maybe you'll see this is A Ghost Story, not starring Casey Affleck.

This was a ghost story and yet it wasn't. It really wasn't though. For one thing, I read it in March and not February, so how can it be a ghost story.

Oh Florence, how I have missed you and the endearing way you speak, the way you speak, for only you speak like that and it never fails to charm me.

You are only seventeen,
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yup, nice take on Jane Eyre and I loved the ending :D He shit his potfull
Florence and Giles is among my favourite books of all time so I was very excited to read this sequel. It works equally well as a standalone novel, perhaps better in fact, since this does leave you wondering what happened in between the events of the two novels. If Florence and Giles was a reworking of The Turn of the Screw, then this is a reworking of Jane Eyre set in a 19th century asylum where not only is there a mad woman in the attic, but everyone else is mad too. Perfectly gothic and ...more
John Brassey
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When the man claiming to be Dr John Shepherd arrives at a mental hospital for women on an isolated New England island in the 1890’s we share his horror at the inhuman treatments provided for the patients by his new employer, the martinet Morgan and his sadistic female sidekick O’Reilly.

The Gothic building set in parkland provides a perfect backdrop for sinister goings on with plenty of creaking doors and dark corridors inhabited by a silent presence as Shepherd settles into his psychiatric role.
Bill Kupersmith
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Girl Who Couldn’t Read alonestands all right but if this sentence unfamiliar styles, this book may tedious you as well. Best to go back & read Florence & Giles & if as in my case you’re addicted, you’ll want to top up with this one. Florence & Giles was not quite an adaptation of The Turn of the Screw. An appropriate subtitle might have been a Fantasia on a Theme by Henry James. So similarly this sequel takes up a theme from Charlotte Brontë, set in a 19th-century lunatic ...more
Joanne Sheppard
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A few years ago I read and reviewed Florence & Giles, a beguiling, unsettling Gothic mystery by John Harding offering an alternative take on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. It’s been one of my stand-out reads of the last five years, so I was naturally excited at the release of a sequel, The Girl Who Couldn’t Read, in 2014.

The Girl Who Couldn’t Read, an elegant thriller with shades of Edgar Allan Poe, does work as a novel in its own right (although I’m reluctant to say that you don’t need
Wow, this was a deliciously gothic read. I didn't realize at the time that it was a sequel to another book Florence and Giles, a retelling of The Turning of the Screw. However, I didn't feel like I was missing too much having not read the first book. It could definitely be read as a stand alone, although I want to read the first book now that I've read this. I should say that I listened to the audiobook version, which I highly recommend. The narrator was brilliant and captured each character ...more
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
"The Girl Who Couldn't Read" by John Harding.

I read this book as a part of Halloween-themed reads to take a break from my usual routine of SFF books. This book can be read as a standalone, but some parts can be better appreciated if you have read 'Florence & Giles' by the same author.

A man calling himself as John Shepherd visits a women's mental asylum on an isolated island to work as an assistant to Dr. Morgan, who oddly resorts to a harsher treatment of patients - something which John
Kath Elizabeth
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Ooh, this is a hard one to rate. I feel like it was a 4 star book most of the way through but the ending pushed it down to 3.

The Girl Who Couldn't Read is a loose sequel to Florence and Giles, although it also works perfectly well as a standalone novel. Its a gothic horror story set in 1890, and starts with our protagonist, a Dr Shepherd, arriving at a mental institution to begin his new job there. Right away we know things aren't quite right with Dr Shepherd and he's keeping something secret,
Phil Bradley
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another astonishing book - a sequel to Florence and Giles. This book tells us the tale of a young doctor who takes up a position in a mental hospital in the United States around the turn of the nineteenth century. He becomes involved with one of the patients, and attempts to try different treatment methods with her. However, the doctor and the patient are not what they at first seem.

The book has a fair element of menace - the description of the treatment given to the patients is quite harrowing
Acacia Ives
In the tradition of a good gothic novel, and asylum darkness I enjoyed this book. it's nod to Jane Eyre, Shakespeare among other books that are classics in the world of reading was really wonderful. I loved the story and found it something hard for me to put down. Had I not been busy this weekend it would have been read in a shorter time. I'm glad I went slower though I found it helped. The darkness of the story was wonderful and strange. I did very much like the unreliable narrator and the ...more
A new doctor arrives at a mental asylum but is he what he seems. And just what are the staff hiding. This had a hint of Jane Eyre and was very reminiscent of those 19th century gothic tales. Loved this and found myself quite surprised by some of the twists. This is a sort of sequel to an earlier novel of Harding's but I found my not having read that didn't interfere with my enjoyment of this book in the least. Will now be seeking out said earlier novel.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great gothic sequel to one of my all time favourite books. While I thought that it did not quite reach the heights of Florence and Giles it was still very good. I really hope there is a third installment!!
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I sincerely hope there is a third instalment :)
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015
I'm usually not one for thrillers, but I really enjoyed this one. There were so many layers to it, and so much suspense I just had to read on; read it in one sitting!
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review and more can be found on http://reading-is-dreaming-with-open-...

Are you afraid of the dark? Then don't read this book- there's a fair amount of evil-in-the-dark kinda scenes here. I'm kidding, it wasn't so bad. You can trust me- really! I still make it a point to check under my bed before turning in for the night, but I'm quite a chicken when it comes to horror, so naturally I was pretty creeped out at the beginning, but by and by I was so interested in unraveling the mystery and
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can now confirm that this is definitely the sequel to 'Florence and Giles', and the date of 1890 in the blurb is a mistake.
At first, this story seems to bear no relation to the first, but when Jane Dove's identity is revealed, it all makes sense. It is possible that this could be read as a standalone story, but it certainly gains a lot when you know what came before.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very hard to put down!! I can't think of anyone who wouldn't like this book! It is a sequel to a book called Florence and Giles but you don't have to have read Florence to understand/follow/like this one (I didn't!). So many SECRETS and LIES!!!
Jenny - Book Sojourner
3.5 Stars
Fun, quick, interesting read. Though the ending was abrupt, I liked the way the story ended.
Kate Mayfield
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The experience of speeding through "The Girl Who Couldn't Read" might very well leave one gulping for air. From the first chapter in which we meet our vivid narrator Dr. John Shepherd as he arrives at a women's mental hospital in the late 19th century, to the last page wherein the story rushes to its climax, we readers are in the hands of one of Britain's best storytellers.

John Harding's previous novel, "Florence and Giles", where we first meet one of the main characters is a deliciously dark
j george
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shades of Jane Eyre

A slightly disappointing follow up to Florence and Giles. The horror of the Victorian asylum loomed over the story making me want to rush to the last pages to find out what happened. The plot mentioned the lunatic in the attic complete with a hideous female jailer jangling her keys in menacing fashion. However this was not central to the tale, but I thought perhaps the similarity to Jane Eyre was a deliberAte move by the author - even choosing the name Jane Dove for the female
Andy Weston
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a different and wonderful genre mix.

It's a gothic almost horror historical with a decent twist of the noir. Harding pays homage to Poe during the book, and no doubt he was inspired by the great man with his setting of a lunatic asylum in the 1890. I will never tire of gothic mansions hosting lunatic asylums. It is only right that Poe's story (The System of Dr Tarr and Prof Fether) had led to many others.

Harding does it really well though, and brings that historical idea 'up to date' as
Labhaoise Seoighe
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
really hoping there will be more.
Annette Smith
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a great sequel to Florence and Giles, read it in one sitting as I had to see how the story ended.
Debbie Huang
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is written as a sequel to "Florence & Giles," the reimagined perspective of Henry James’s 1898 novella "Turn of the Screw." Although this novel suggests it can be read as a standalone from Harding’s previous novel, I think the backstory of Jane Dove/Florence provides important insight into her mysterious past; which in turn (pun intended) adds a whole new dynamic to her as a character. The novel is set in an isolated mental asylum for women who are not treated for their affliction ...more
Sarah Kingston
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I think that I would have liked this novel a lot more if I hadn't been waiting for another Florence and Giles. Florence and Giles was so beautiful and clever and intricate, and while this had all the ingredients to be a book I adored (gothic setting, brutal old asylum, creepy aggressive female servant who seems to be out to get the narrator for no real reason, and murder most foul) it just fell a little flat.

I think that the biggest issue is that so much of the beauty of Florence and Giles came
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Okay... so.

I know everyone has left a load of good reviews for this, so I'll be short. I didn't really enjoy this book. It didn't grip me. I had saved it as my "to be read" pile because the blurb was so intriguing. So, when I got the book, started to read it, yep, it's going good.

But then.. nothing seemed to be really happening. There was definitely a good and solid story line in this book but it just wasn't written, imo. Now, I don't know if this is because I didn't read the first book
I'm being generous giving this book 3 stars: it is more 2,5 stars than 3 but I decided that the end of the book was worth it.
The whole book was trying to be more than one thing at once. It was trying to be a classic, a mental-health book, a mystery, a horror book. It proved incredibly boring at times to see how much it was trying to be more than one book genre at the same time. That subtracted its entertaining factor which was what I hoped would turn this book great, or at least, good.
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