BOOK REVIEW: Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

Gillespie and I by Jane HarrisGillespie and I
By Jane Harris
Completed March 24, 2012

Oh Jane Harris – you masterful storyteller. You captivated me with your debut novel, The Observations, to the point that I could barely wait to read your sophomore effort, Gillespie and I. I worried that you couldn’t “do it again” – but as I delved into your new book, my worries quickly vanished. Oh yes, you did it again. And marvelously so.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because I don’t want to spoil one thing for future readers. In a quick summary, the story is about Harriet Baxter, a middle-aged, unmarried English woman who takes up residence in Scotland during the 1888 International Exhibition. There, she befriends the artist, Ned Gillespie, and his family: his wife, Annie; Ned’s mother, Elpsbeth; and Ned and Annie’s children, Sibyl and Rose. As the story progresses, a terrible tragedy strikes the Gillespie family, and Harriet is thrust into the brink of it.

As we learn about Harriet’s life in 1888, Harris mixes in Harriet’s narrative as an older woman, living in 1933 London. Harriet is writing her memoir but vexed by her live-in companion, Sarah. Why is Sarah so quiet? Why does she not talk about her past? Why does she dress head to toe in Victorian clothing when the styles are much more liberal?

Gillespie and I is a book much like a roller coaster. The first half is full of foreshadowing, with small twists and turns that seem insignificant as you read them. Then, at the end of the first half, the story seems to stall a bit, but I liken it to the “scenic part” of the roller coaster ride – when you’re up high and can enjoy the view before being plunged down at break-neck speeds. And the second half of the book is the downward plunge, and you’re left holding on, turning each page, almost not believing what you’re reading. When the book is over, just like a good roller coaster, you get off and contemplate going for another ride. You want to relive the whole experience and discover things you missed on the first ride.

I’ve said enough – go get your copy of Gillespie and I and prepare for a literary ride that will leave you breathless, contemplative and thoroughly pleased. (  )

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laura
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 07:14:47

    I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to read this!

    Reply

  2. JoV
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 20:14:55

    Oooohh. the way you rave about Jane Harris, i need to read Observations and this one!! Thanks for the review!

    Reply

  3. nomadreader
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 22:52:05

    I loved this one too! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed her first book so much too. I got it from the library and hope to read it once I finish my Orange longlist reading!

    Reply

  4. Vasilly
    Mar 29, 2012 @ 10:22:24

    This book sounds amazing!

    Reply

  5. Dee
    Mar 31, 2012 @ 16:05:30

    I enjoyed this one too and thought it was a stronger book than The Observations.

    Reply

  6. free word
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 00:30:02

    Nice book! I’m a big book fan,the books are the friend of us,aren’t they?

    Reply

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