In the very first chapter, one realizes that the nameless nipper who tells his story will be precociously old before his time--he has a nurse, Miss Shock, a fat woman who takes naps and baths with him. And dresses him in a sailor suit. All of this dates this at the beginning as taking place somewhat longer ago than it would seem by the close of the book when he is engaged in very contemporary experiences--an inchoate initiation with a young woman named Isabel more attracted to his father. So are a great many women--all through his childhood here and abroad there are a succession of shifting stepmothers. Also stepfathers, a governess, a tutor, staff, and a boarding school. Much of it is narrated in stripped, foreshortened sentences--direct yet elliptical; sometimes there are questions (""What was there when there was nothing?"") which suggest that he is still playing hide-and-seek. In spots, there is talent, but as a commentary on a child shuttling between his elders who are no betters, the referral will still be What Maisie Knew.