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Gillespie and I [Kindle Edition]

Jane Harris
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $9.78
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

From the Orange Prize-nominated author of The Observations comes an absorbing, atmospheric exploration of one young woman’s friendship with a volatile artist and her place in the controversy that consumes him. Jane Harris’s Gillespie and I presents a strongly voiced female protagonist evocative of Moll Flanders and Becky Sharp, who offers a keen sensibility, deeply felt observations, and poignant remembrances of the world of a young artist in turn-of-the-century Glasgow in this fantastic work of historical fiction. London’s Sunday Times calls Gillespie and I “a literary novel where the storytelling is as skilful as the writing is fine.” Fans of The Piano Teacher and The Thirteenth Tale will find it irresistible and unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Harris, author of The Observations, follows up her smashing debut with another biting, character-driven satire. As elderly narrator Harriet Baxter takes a trip down memory lane, the story of an essentially lonely life punctuated by one period of giddy activity and involvement unfolds. When Harriet, a well-heeled, youngish Victorian spinster, travels to Glasgow in 1888 to take in the sights and sounds of the International Exhibition, a chance encounter embroils her in the middle of the eccentric Gillespie family. As she becomes indispensable to the clan, her relationship with Ned Gillespie, a struggling artist with a wife and two daughters to support, becomes more and more obsessive. The initially playful narrative tone darkens decidedly as the double mystery of Ned’s eventual suicide and Harriet’s reliability as a memoirist steadily unpeels. --Margaret Flanagan


"To say anything more would be to give away the plot, which is too delectable to spoil."--Washington Post

Product Details

  • File Size: 972 KB
  • Print Length: 625 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0571238300
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GFPY7I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,133 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling book February 7, 2012
Where do I start? This is a very hard book to review; it was fantastic, don't get me wrong. In fact one of the best books I've read - but to explain why is to give away too much. Ms. Harris is brilliant. She has created a heroine that is so multifaceted you run the gamut of emotions from like to out and out hate and back again before you are done with the book. Just who IS Harriet Baxter?

Harriet, at the start of the book is a young woman who has lost her mother and has just buried her aunt. She is of independent means and so she decides to go to Glasgow for the great International Exhibition that is being held. While there she saves the life of Elsbeth Gillespie and ingratiates herself into the family. To what end?

The book is Harriet's memoir as she writes in her dotage. She is "to set the record straight" about her time with "the artist Gillespie." But one wonders about her ability to discern the absolute truth from the Harriet truth. The story is told in a well constructed flashback/flashforward style that forces you to piece snippets of information together like a jigsaw puzzle. Never have I enjoyed a book more. Never have I puzzled over a book more. Never have I wondered at the sanity of a heroine more. And I am still thinking about her and I finished the book over a week ago. This book has serious pull. Oh, I will read it again and I suspect that I will find all manner of things I missed as I flew through it the first time.

Do not miss the chance to acquaint yourself with Ms. Harriet Baxter. You won't be disappointed. Her times are fascinating, her story is thrilling and her life a conundrum. All manner of praise to Jane Harris for creating a character so complex and a story so rich in detail and human drama.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Harriet Baxter is an 80 year old woman living alone in Bloomsbury in 1933. As she nears the end of her life, and while she possesses a full mental capacity, she decides to write a memoir about Ned Gillespie, a brilliant Glaswegian painter who never achieved the fame he deserved.

Harriet is a single and outspoken woman of good taste and independent means in her mid-30s, who travels from London to Glasgow to attend the 1888 International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry. She is introduced to Ned after she has a remarkable encounter with his mother Elspeth and wife Annie, and she recognizes him from an art exhibition in London held several years previously. The two women befriend Harriet, who integrates herself into the lives of the Gillespie family, including their younger daughter Rose and her older, troubled sister Sibyl, along with Ned's overbearing mother and his secretive brother.

Harriet decides to lengthen her stay in Glasgow, as she becomes a somewhat awkward yet appreciated fixture in the Gillespie household. Sibyl exhibits increasingly strange and disturbing behavior, which strains the marriage and Annie's relationship with Elspeth, and culminates in a shocking crime that devastates the Gillespies and their new friend.

The novel shifts between 1888 Glasgow and 1933 London, as Harriet tells her side of the events that surrounded the crime and its notorious trial and aftermath, in order to set the record straight. The action and tension build in both settings, as Harriet proves to be an increasingly unreliable narrator, which left this reader fascinated and on the edge of his seat until the final page.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacularly spine-chilling! August 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've arrived late on the scene here with this review; there are already plenty of exemplary five-star reviews. In fact, it was the high quality of many of those reviews (and the reviewers) that caused me to buy this book and read it as soon as I downloaded it. The book sounded too good to pass up...a delicious and very special literary treat. I needed that. So I stole the time and I certainly don't regret it.

Many of the highly praiseworthy reviews note that the book drags for the first 90 to 200 pages. I agree. But, please, don't let that get in the way. These pages are essential; they build character and, more important, tension. Stick with it. Try to relish the detail and abandon yourself to it. It's already given away in these reviews that you're dealing with an unreliable narrator, so spend that extra time and energy trying to read between the lines, examining the facets, looking behind the incidentals. Soon those long atmospheric character-building pages will be behind you and you'll be primed (yes, primed) for the amazing psychological rollercoaster ride at the end.

The ending is spectacularly spine-chilling! No matter how well, or how closely, you've attended to the beginning of this novel, you'll find the hair at the back of your neck standing straight up as you make your way through the last third.

Harriet Baxter is a character that you'll never fail to remember; she's as unforgettable as Hitchcock's Norman Bates. Without a doubt, Jane Harris is an extraordinarily effective and accomplished author.

If you love strong character-driven literary psychological mysteries, don't pass this up. This is as delicious a literary treat as they come. "Gillespie and I" will certainly be on my list of one of the best books I've read this year.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of Evil
Jane Harris here tells a dark and chilling tale. Its final chapters create the atmosphere of a great Hitchcock movie. A fair warning - some might find it upsetting. Read more
Published 2 months ago by gerardpeter
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!
Starts as a pleasant little narrative that wraps around your throat and squeezes. I immediately reread the first half.
Published 2 months ago by Kathleen L Cleberg
4.0 out of 5 stars A Review for the Squeamish
To quote from the Washington Post review: "If you are in any way squeamish or genteel, skip "Gillespie and I." I don't know that I totally agree. Read more
Published 2 months ago by K.E. Fuhrmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Jane Harris Book
Harris is a genius. I love all her books and eagerly await the next. This is a tale told through the unreliable narrator device. I'd read it again.
Published 3 months ago by Karol Andersson
4.0 out of 5 stars Very fun read if not long winded
Gillespie and I was a huge change of pace book for me. I would normally not go for a book that I know is going to be long winded in details, yet I went with my gut based on the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by kczar
4.0 out of 5 stars Crazy!
I liked the story. The book is very well written and the story is full of creativity and little details.
Published 14 months ago by Carolin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Novel With a Twist
'Gillespie and I' is a tour de force of a novel. Harriet Baxter, a spinster in her mid-thirties travels to Glasgow from London, originally planning on staying only three months. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bonnie Brody
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
It is a typical English work. Very little action but tons of detail. Ms. Harris is a great story teller.
Published 15 months ago by curtis m. jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Read.
This novel written in memoir form is captivating. I am certain that we all filter memories and distort our personal history to align our actions with our idealized self. Read more
Published 15 months ago by DianeBob
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Detail and Delusion
Jane Harris' narrator, Harriet Baxter, is an old woman writing in 1933 about events that took place in Glasgow in 1888, when in her mid-thirties she became friends with the rising... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Roger Brunyate
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More About the Author

Jane Harris was born in Belfast and grew up in Scotland before moving to England in her 20s. Her first book "The Observations" won the USA Book of the Month Club's First Fiction Prize in 2007 and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007 and the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in 2009. Her second novel "Gillespie and I" was shortlisted for the National Book Awards in 2011 in England and the Scottish Book Awards in 2012.

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