About the Book:
As she sits in her Bloomsbury home with her two pet birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter recounts the story of her friendship with Ned Gillespie—a talented artist whose life came to a tragic end before he ever achieved the fame and recognition that Harriet maintains he deserved.
In 1888, young Harriet arrives in Glasgow during the International Exhibition. After a chance encounter with Ned, she befriends the Gillespie family and soon becomes a fixture in their lives. But when tragedy strikes, culminating in a notorious criminal trial, the certainty of Harriet’s new world rapidly spirals into suspicion and despair.
Infused with rich period detail, shot through with sly humor, and featuring a memorable cast of characters, Gillespie and I is an absorbing, atmospheric tale of one young woman’s friendship with a volatile artist and her place in the controversy that consumes him—a tour de force from one of the emerging names of modern fiction.
About the Author:
Jane Harris is the author of the award-winning novel The Observations. She lives in London.
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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Disclosure: I received a copy of Gillespie and I gratis from TLC Book Tours. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.