Harriet Baxter is a spinster who is traveling alone in 1889 after her aunt has passed away. She ends up in Glasgow, where she plans to be for only a short time. That changes under pretty odd circumstances.
Harriet is strolling about town one day when she comes upon a woman lying prostate on the ground. The woman is clearly in trouble, and not a single person in the crowd surrounding her seems to have the knowledge or inclination to help her. Just as the woman is on the brink of death, Harriet discovers that she has swallowed her dentures, and as she plucks them out of the woman’s throat, respiration is restored! Such are the circumstances under which she meets Annie and Elsbeth Gillespie.
The woman are the wife and mother of local artist Ned Gillespie, and Harriet immediately befriends the entire family. She is recounting the friendship decades later for the historical impact, so it quickly becomes clear that something has happened. From the beginning, the reader is pretty much slapped in the face constantly with foreshadowing and foreboding. It could have become overwhelming, but Harris crafted the story in such a way that it helped build the suspense.
Part of the foreshadowing has to do with Ned and Annie’s daughters, Sybil and Rose. Sybil, the eldest, is a malevolent child, to say the least. Despite the fact that Harriet describes Sybil’s actions matter-of-factly, it is evident that something is seriously wrong with the child. At one point she is even storing bottles of her urine under her bed, but that doesn’t seem to raise the type of alarm one would suppose.
I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t finish Gillespie and I in time for this tour. I have no excuse for this, as I absolutely love this book so far. It has just taken me longer to read than I expected. That being said, I have quite a bit to say about the book!
First off, Harris is phenomenal at character development. Every main character is fleshed out completely, and the tone for much of the book is a bit tongue and cheek, because that’s just Harriet’s persona, so it makes for fun reading. She and Ned’s mother, Elsbeth, both had me in giggles quite a few times. Imagine Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, but magnified! I much appreciated Harriet’s tenacity as well!
Gillespie and I is obviously historical fiction, and in that respect it is an interesting book. I am no history buff, so I can never comment on whether or not a particular book is historically accurate, but whether or not each fact checks out, I loved the background of this book. The international expo is taking place in Glasgow during the story, so there is a rich backdrop on which to build off of.
I read and enjoyed Jane Harris’ previous novel, The Observations, so being on this tour was a no brainer for me. Despite the fact that I haven’t finished this one, I am certain that the last one hundred pages won’t change how much I already love Gillespie and I. Highly recommended.
About Jane Harris
Jane Harris is the author of the award-winning novel The Observations. She lives in London.
Jane’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, January 31st: Unabridged Chick
Monday, February 6th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, February 7th: The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, February 7th: BookNAround
Wednesday, February 8th: Broken Teepee
Monday, February 13th: Library of Clean Reads
Tuesday, February 14th: Reviews by Lola
Wednesday, February 15th: The Lost Entwife
Friday, February 17th: Amused By Books
Monday, February 20th: Amusing Reviews
Wednesday, February 22nd: Tales of a Capricious Reader
Thursday, February 23rd: nomadreader