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

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TLC Tour: Graveminder

Graveminder

Melissa Marr

William Morrow Paperbacks

352 pages

Rebekkah Barrow  is living alone on the west coast, but she has always felt ties to her old town of Claysville.  She left there years ago after the death of her stepsister but she still returns from time to time to visit her grandmother Maylene.  She finds that she must return home spur of the moment once she receives word that Maylene has died suddenly.  What awaits her there sounds like stuff of dreams . . . or nightmares.

Rebekkah must confront her old love interest Byron, who works with his father William as the only undertakers in town.  Byron knows that Maylene has been murdered, but none of the town officials seem too concerned about it, and he’s unsure of how to break the news to Rebekkah, who has enough on her plate as it is. Add to that some strange traditions that have been taking place around Claysville regarding the city’s dead, and you’ve got quite a strange concoction.

I suppose I should throw out my negatives before I move onto the positives.  For one, I absolutely hated the love affair between Rebekkah and Byron.  It seemed contrived and juvenile.  It’s made obvious from the word go that both Rebekkah and Byron have strong feelings for one another.  Byron is very vocal about this fact and pleads with Rebekkah to open up to him.  But Rebekkah refuses.  And so it goes.  Again and again and again.  It just seemed so drawn out and I didn’t really connect with either character, so in the end I was bored with the twosome.

I also thought that Graveminder started out a bit slow.  The plot didn’t grab my attention till well over the 100 page mark.  Instead, it just seemed amateurish, possibly in part due to the love affair of Rebekkah and Byron. The rest of the characters also seemed very two dimensional and I often had issues with trying to figure out each one.  Take Charles for example.  By the end of the book, I was still unsure of exactly who he was and how he got where he was.  That just may be me being dense, but I kept wondering when everything was going to be fully explained.

That being said, I do think that Marr had a great story to tell.  Graveminder is not without flaws, but the story was so interesting that I did begin to enjoy it.  I could see this becoming a fun series because now that I know the back story, it would be fun to see where Rebekkah and Byron end up (although I could do without a focus on their love life!).

Melissa’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 17th: Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, January 17th: The Road to Here

Wednesday, January 18th: Raging Bibliomania

Thursday, January 19th: Wordsmithonia

Friday, January 20th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Tuesday, January 24th: Jenny Loves to Read

Wednesday, January 25th: Life in Review

Thursday, January 26th: Reviews by Lola

Tuesday, January 31st: Elle Lit.

Wednesday, February 1st: The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, February 2nd: Savvy Verse & Wit

TBD: Books Like Breathing

 

Book Review: Love Child

Love Child

Sheila Kohler

Penguin

256 pages

Bill has gotten used to the absence of her husband, who died a few months previously.  She has inherited quite a fortune upon the passing of her husband, and his solicitor is now breathing down her neck to write a will of her own.  The problem is Bill does not want to follow the attorney’s wishes and leave her fortune o her two sons.  She has never had a close relationship with them, wish is evidenced by her visit to their boarding school, where the two boys try to ignore her and the shame she causes them.  Although Bill has yearned for a more solid, loving relationship, she has never understood her boys, and vice versa.

Bill wonders at first who to bequeath the fortune to, but the answer quickly comes to her, and in that revelation, we learn more about Bill and her background. As her history unfolds, her relationships and decisions start to make more and more sense.

This was a quiet but powerful book.  It felt more like a novella to me, and I read it in 1.5 sittings. Although there wasn’t a lot of action, Bill’s story gave me a lot to think about.  Unfortunately, Love Child didn’t make as big of an impact on me as I expected.  It had me pensive throughout, but once I finished the book, the details started drifting off and I couldn’t remember the gist of the book until I read a synopsis of it.  Luckily, everything came flooding back at that point.

Two superficial aspects of the book that I feel I need to comment on.  First off, I LOVE the cover.  It is so evocative and really details the time and place of the book. One thing I didn’t love was the name Bill.  I understand it was a nickname, but whatever meaning the author intended it to render, I don’t think it did.  Instead, it just irritated me, because I can’t reconcile the name Bill with an adult woman.  It didn’t ruin the ambiance of the book for me, but I found it to be a confusing annoyance.

Love Child certainly has its pros and cons. Despite its flaws, I would recommend it.

Other Reviews:

Readin’ and Dreamin’

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.