TLC Book Tour: Gillespie and I

Gillespie and I

Jane Harris

Harper Perennial

528 pages

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.

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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

17 Responses

  1. The swallowing of the dentures makes it sound like a comedy, but Sybil and the foreshadowing make it sound kinda creepy.

  2. I love books that are rich in character development, and have already requested this one from the library. It sounds like it’s going to be a wonderful read for me, and I am glad that you enjoyed it. I hope that you get to finish it soon!

  3. This one sounds really great and is one of those books I’ll keep an eye out for.

  4. I loved this book too – I thought Harriet was a great narrator and it was unusual to find a story set in Victorian Glasgow. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  5. Sounds like a good read, will have to make a note of it.

  6. Everyone seems to be loving this one – I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on a copy!

  7. [...] February 8th: Broken TeepeeMonday, February 13th: Library of Clean ReadsTuesday, February 14th: Reviews by LolaWednesday, February 15th: The Lost EntwifeFriday, February 17th: Amused By BooksMonday, February [...]

  8. This book is HIGH on my list of things to read asap. I’ve heard absolutely amazing things about it and cannot wait to pick it up myself. I hope you continue to enjoy it!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  9. So my question is this — I was one who didn’t really like The Observations so would I like this? Should I give Jane Harris another try? Sadly, I read it right before I started blogging so I don’t have my thoughts on the book other than my six word comment in my reading spreadsheet. I thought it was odd.

  10. Don’t you hate it when real life gets in the way of reading? I’m glad you’re enjoying this one.

  11. [...] 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, [...]

  12. This looks intriguing.
    Ann

  13. I’m so happy you’re enjoying this book, i loved it! it is long but fantastic and the last 100 pages have some of the best parts of the book. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor a couple of times! One of the good things about this book, i thought, was it combines several different genres so well…mystery, drama, comedy, suspense…and great characters! Enjoy the rest of Gillespie!

    I want to read The Observations and especialy now that you’ve said you enjoyed that book, too.

  14. [...] Reviews, Lizzy’s Literary Life, Farm Lane Books Blog, Cornflower Books, Lovely Treez Reads, Reviews by Lola, Wordsmithonia, She Reads [...]

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