He notes that divorce was much less common in the 1890s and that it is “hard to believe” that James could have had such a “firm grasp” on what divorce looked like to a child. It may help that James is one of the most celebrated writers of the 19th century, and his “Portrait of a Lady” tells the story from the perspective of a young woman, James was clearly talented at adopting other voices as the narrator of his stories.
What is important in a story like “What Maisie Knew” is that divorce and child custody has a real impact on the child involved. While parents have legal authority to act in way prohibited to a child, it does not mean they use that power appropriately.
In Maisie, what become clear is that both parents want to “win” the custody battle, not because they intrinsically value their relationship with Maisie, but because they want to defeat their spouse.
The movie depicts the growing disappointment in her parents by Maisie. During a divorce, consider your child’s perspective and think about whether your actions will eventually lead to child’s profound sense of disappointment, and if your victory is worth that price.
As Julianne Moore, who plays the mother in the movie says, “Neither of them want custody – but both of them want to win.”
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