22 October 2011

Review: Gillespie and I | Jane Harris

I was lucky enough to win this copy of Gillespie and I in a competition (together with The Oberservations, also by Jane Harris), so it wasn't a novel I myself chose to read.  Written by Jane Harris, Gillespie and I is an historical fiction novel, which is my favourite genre so naturally I was pretty pleased with my win.

Ned Gillespie - of the title - is an artist, painting in Scotland in the late 1880s.  Miss Harriet Baxter meets Ned Gillespie briefly at an art exhibition in London, and then several months later, meets his mother and wife in Scotland, and becomes a friend of the family.

The book is narrated by Harriet - now in her late 70s being looked after by a carer - reflecting on her friendship with the Gillespie family.

The novel was moving along at a steady pace and with a fine amount of momentum, when the plot took a most unexpected course.  In fact I don't think I could have been more surprised had Jane Harris reached from the pages and slapped me in the face herself! 

I had been suspecting the plot was gently building towards a climax centred around one of the family members, however I was completely caught by surprise, and I love it when a book catches you with your guard down.

I won't reveal anything further though, because I don't want to give anything away, however it was a satisfying read; moving between the past and the present and unfurling Harriet's memories of events.

I also enjoyed Harriet's chapters set in the present, where an air of mystery regarding her carer was unfolding, and her thoughts and behaviour at this age were very enjoyable to read!

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!

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