Sunday, February 17, 2013

ESCAPE TO THE PAST WITH: Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

During the recent Literary Blog Hop Giveaway a problem arose – I ended up adding at least 10 new books to my TBR list. One, I purchased, and one– Jane Harris’s Gillespie and I -- I ordered from the library. The library had it in and so my rather messy priority list fell into even greater disarray. That was a stroke of fortune!

I’ve been on a roll lately. The last few books I’ve read have been outstanding.

Gillespie and I is a page turner. The jacket blurb is just the tiniest bit misleading, but understandably so. To review this book in too much detail would be to ruin it for the next reader so I won’t say too much.

Harriet Baxter, an elderly spinster (for lack of a better word) narrates the book. She is writing her memoirs as she sits alone in her apartment in Bloomsbury with only two finches and a paid companion for company. She wants to leave a record for the world, or perhaps set the record straight, about what happened to the young artist Ned Gillespie, a painter from Glasgow. Many years ago, he had been a rising talent, but his career was cut tragically short. Harriet was a friend of Ned’s, a friend of the Gillespie family, and she knows the truth, the whole sordid truth, so she’ll recount her relationship with the family from beginning to end.

Harriet is a consummate storyteller. She has a delightful wit, particularly in the way she describes people. She paints their faults with obvious exaggeration but almost as if she is apologizing for making fun of them because she is too nice to mock people. She ingratiates herself with the reader just as she does with her co-characters. And if she comes across as a little "off," well, aren’t they all?

The book begins with something of a cozy mystery flavor. It was entertaining and well-written, but I didn’t realize at first just how hooked I was. It wasn’t that it was slow. But Harriet is an old lady telling a story and she tells it the way she wants to tell it.

Quarter to midnight last night, I was chewing my nails, looking at the clock, thinking, "I have to go to bed or I’ll never be able to get up and go to church tomorrow." It had become a book I could not put down. (Well, honestly, I did go to bed. But I finished the book immediately after church.)

This book is appallingly good. And now, my TBR list is still growing because I’ll have to add Jane Harris’s other work to my TBR list.

Gillespie and I was set in 1888 and 1933, which means I can recommend it to historical fiction fans taking part in the Historical Fiction Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry (and all historical fiction and psychological drama fans.)

This book is also owned by my wonderful local library, helping me to live up to my resolution to use my library more and to meet my library reading challenge (hosted by Book Dragon's Lair.)

1 comment:

  1. Appallingly good! Now my TBR is growing as well as yours... It sounds fabulous.