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The Observations Paperback – June 27, 2007
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
First-novelist Jane Harris has created a terrific character is Bessy, a girl whose tender-hearted nature is revealed in the way she guards her protector's last act--pooping a tiny turd--in a silk bag. It would take a girl from the bowels of Glasgow to consider this a homage, but that's the kind of thing that makes Bessy so appealing. Less successful are Arabella and the whole supernatural element of the story. Victorian ghost stories spiced with 19th century hypocrisy/perversion are just not as interesting as Bessy Buckley scrubbing floors or snooping in drawers.
Harris's ability to create character and spin a good story is beyond doubt. She doesn't need to rely on ghostly gimmicks to make her story work, and I hope that she goes for a straight historical novel next time. She writes a great sense of place, time and character, and I look forward to her next concoction.
While snooping in Arabella's room, Bessy discovers the woman is writing a book, Observations on the Habits and Nature of the Domestic Class in My Home; some of the remarks written about Bessy are none too kind. Miffed, her feelings hurt, Bessy nurtures a grudge that will fester the longer she works for Mrs. Reid. Over time, Bessy learns there have been other girls, one of whom, Nora, disappeared and was later found dead near the railroad tracks, causing much grief to Arabella. Growing attached to Arabella in spite of her critical comments, Bessy's jealousy is pricked by the very mention of Nora and the effect the girls name has on Mrs. Reid. Bessy craves a small revenge. Unfortunately, her petty machinations result in the unraveling of the Reid household, uncovering the troubling events surrounding Nora's demise.Read more ›
A strange but electric kind of relationship builds between the maid and the lady of the house. Even a bold and bawdy young Irish girl fleeing a questionable past needs someone to love and care for. Bessy forms a fierce attraction for her mistress, with an almost desperate desire to please. Unfortunately, lady Arabella exhibits some unique behavior, eccentric at best. Right off, Bessy notes "...there was something queer about all this...you could have sensed it a mile off downwind with your eyes blindfolded your nose blocked your ears stopped up and a cork in your hole."
Well, Bessy can read and write, to Arabella's delight, and the lady takes it upon herself to teach her more proper ways. She asks her, as she has all her previous maids, to keep a journal of her daily doings. Bessy writes freestyle, without the bother of commas and periods, which she deems about as understandable as goat droppings. As Arabella gets her to pay more attention, more punctuation finds its way into Bessy's story. If currying favor with missus means learning how to use those funny dots and squiggles, so be it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An interesting period piece with authentic slang which I always understood even thought I had never heard heard it before. I was left wondering about how certain things took place.Published 2 months ago by Dana Dolan
Great narrative voice. The story itself, however, was not nearly as engaging. Read it if you enjoy vibrant and humorous first person narratives.Published 12 months ago by T
Read it for book club and although I finished it, I didn't really enjoy it.Published 12 months ago by will
Set in the late 1800’s in Scotland, this semi gothic tale is told from the perspective of Bessy Buckley, a young woman looking to improve her fortunes. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Michelle Boytim
...you'll adore this novel. Funny, sharp, and poignant, it has stayed with me for years. I've recommended it to many friends and it's a home run every time. Gorgeous book.Published 22 months ago by KidOnTheHill
This is a wonderfully entertaining take on the Gothic novel, set in mid-Victorian Scotland. The plot will not surprise readers of 19th century novels and their modern adaptations,... Read morePublished 24 months ago by gerardpeter
Did not like the protagonist at all, her slavish loyalty didn't make a lot of sense. Her employer seems insane and delusional, couldn't relate to her in any way which resulted in... Read morePublished on July 2, 2014 by C. F.
This is a quaint little story I has the reader wondering what is going to happen next. I really enjoyed itPublished on August 9, 2013 by nanajean
"The two grunts trotted by on their way towards Glasgow. Did they even turn their heads, did they buckie. Hurrah, says I to myself and good flipping riddance. Read morePublished on August 8, 2013 by Roger Brunyate