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Gillespie and I: A Novel Paperback – January 31, 2012
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“To say anything more would be to give away the plot, which is too delectable to spoil.” (Washington Post)
“Even for readers who think they’ve seen everything, GILLESPIE AND I is almost certain to be surprising. . . . A masterwork of subtlety and penetrating psychological insight. . . . But few hints will prepare most readers for what is to come.” (Shelf Awareness)
“Elegant novel of love, loss and redemption. . . . Harris writes sensitively and in rich detail. . . . A fine evocation of a lost era, and without a false note.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Haunting. . . . Harris succeeds with nuanced characters. . . . The reader will be so thoroughly entrenched in the carefully arranged details and the courtroom’s gripping drama that there will be no turning back.” (Publishers Weekly)
“It is rare to read a literary novel where the storytelling is as skilful as the writing is fine, but in Gillespie and I, Harris has pulled off the only too rare double whammy—a Booker-worthy novel that I want to read again.” (Sunday Times (London))
“Harris follows up her smashing debut with another biting, character-driven satire.” (Booklist)
“This is a compelling, suspenseful and highly enjoyable novel—but what stands out is the way in which this narrative provokes us to think again about what we imagine, and what we hope for, and about the burdens that those hopes and imaginings impose upon those around us.” (The Times (London))
“A wonderfully compelling read.” (Daily Mail (London))
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I couldn't put this book down! Even though it was very long, it took me only three days to read it. (Good thing I'm retired! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mystic by the Lake
I loved this book so much I read it twice; simply fantastic! Jane Harris displays a subtlety and eloquence in her writing that is a joy to read. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anne Ebsen
I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down once little Rose went missing. I was totally drawn into the story and thoroughly enjoyed it. Read morePublished 10 months ago by ROCGIRL
A beautifully written, unusual, subtle novel. Carries you peacefully along for awhile...and then the truth gradually dawns on you! Read morePublished 10 months ago by Karen Wolf
Upon finishing Gillespie and I, I turned from the last page back to the first page to reread this book with my new found knowledge. I haven't done that many times, I swear. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Ladd Chandler
Harriet Baxter is an elderly woman living with two birds, and has recently taken on a new companion to help her with her daily activities and keep her company. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Michelle Boytim