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Gillespie and I

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  2,186 ratings  ·  452 reviews
As she sits in her Bloomsbury home, with her two birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter sets out to relate the story of her acquaintance, nearly four decades previously, with Ned Gillespie, a talented artist who never achieved the fame she maintains he deserved. Back in 1888, the young, art-loving, Harriet arrives in Glasgow at the time of the International Exhibition. ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Harper Perennial (first published May 1st 2011)
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Blair
I read Jane Harris's debut, The Observations, a couple of years ago. I thought it was very good, but nothing about it really suggested to me that the author would go on to write a minor masterpiece. However, as soon as I started hearing good things about Gillespie and I, I had this feeling I was going to love it; something to do with the plot synopsis combined with all the good things I was hearing about it (the reviews here, so far, are overwhelmingly great) and, of course, that absolutely beau ...more
Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: √2

The Book Report: There isn't anything I can say that won't be a spoiler here. The book description from Amazon says:
“As she sits in her Bloomsbury home with her two pet birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter recounts the story of her friendship with Ned Gillespie—a talented artist whose life came to a tragic end before he ever achieved the fame and recognition that Harriet maintains he deserved.
In 1888, young Harriet arrives in Glasgow during the International Exhibition. After a c
...more
Leanne
The success of Gillespie & I is almost entirely due to its phenomenal narrator, Harriet Baxter - exceedingly polite, utterly manipulative, the master of the backhanded compliment, and one of the loneliest characters I have ever come across. She's the perfect example of a fictional person that you loathe so much you love, that you appreciate just for the meticulous character development. The rest of the novel is excellent too, with a slow-burning Victorian feel, and after you push through the ...more
Traci
I wasn't prepared to be blown away by this book.

If I'm being honest, I really enjoyed The Observations and that is the sole reason that I requested the book when I purchased it for the library. I was a bit worried that this would be another Swan Thieves for me, but she seems to have pulled off the second novel (after the first success) quite nicely. Speaking of second novels, I'm still waiting, Diane Setterfield. It's been six years... get your butt in gear!

I can't really write about the plot w
...more
Clouds

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my GIFTS AND GUILTY list.

Regardless of how many books are already queued patiently on my reading list, unexpected gifts and guilt-trips will always see unplanned additions muscling their way in at the front.


If I didn’t stick to certain rules, I would buy books
...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Are you in the mood for a delicious, lurid, butt-kicking, hair-raising, and guilt free reading experience? Literary licks meets cinematic thriller? You are here. Press Go--or run, not walk to your nearest book seller or library. Grab a seat, speed-dial food-to-go, call in sick, and let the babysitter put the kids to bed. Oh...and don't read the book blurb; let yourself be astonished as you burn through this all-consuming novel. Once the first ninety pages or so go by at a casual clip, you will b ...more
Michael
Review from Badelynge
I've never been the quickest of readers but this vibrantly written novel, weighing in at 500 plus pages, so engrossed me I devoured it in just 4 days. It seemed so innocent at first, beguiling me with its engagingly described cast of characters.
In 1933 Miss Harriet Baxter sits in her Bloomsbury apartment, tending to her caged finches and writing her memoir of the times she spent with Ned Gillespie over 4 decades earlier, an up and coming young artist, her dear friend, she du
...more
Christine
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book via a FirstReads giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

It pains me to give this book such a low rating, especially since I was so looking forward to reading it and most grateful for having won a free copy from GoodReads’s First Reads program.

I must say that I simply did not care for this book. I felt compelled to finish it and wanted to see how it ended, but I found myself really not caring about the story and certainly without any
...more
Nancy Oakes
Exasperatingly enough, Gillespie and I is one of those books where saying too much gives away the show, a potential buzzkill for anyone who may want to read it. I bought this book last summer from the UK, having read a little about it in various threads re last year's Booker Prize speculations (and because I had enjoyed her The Observations ), but I had no idea what I was getting into once I started reading. So I'll keep quiet about what happens in this novel for anyone who may be interested in ...more
Jill
What a deliciously addictive mystery! I urge anyone who picks this up to clear the docket for the next couple of days. Jane Harris’ narrator Harriet may set the standard for unreliable narrators and her “memoir” will have you on the edge of your seat.

Harriet Baxter comes across a little-known artist named Ned Gillespie. She is a woman of means, a “spinster” in her mid-30s, and footloose after nursing an old aunt who has just passed away. After a brief encounter with the artist, she chances upon
...more
Carol
Nov 06, 2012 Carol added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol by: Simon of The Readers Podcast
Shelves: fiction
I invested a bit of time into this one. Was it worth it? Yes and no. Jane Harris is an excellent story-teller and the story is interesting. Like many here, I can’t tell much without a spoiler slipping by. I’m thinking his is a book that will gnaw at me, asking “what’s it all about?”, for some time. Did it need to be over 500 pages? I’m not certain. I liked some of the characters and wanted to throttle others. I liked the exploration of relationships, familial and otherwise; friendships, both mal ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Three things: one, Jane Harris, where have you been all my life?; two, imagine Shirley Jackson meets A.S. Byatt, with a little Sarah Waters and Zoe Heller thrown in, all set in Scotland, and you've got the feel of the story; and three, I loved this book.

I'm sort of just going to flail and squee, and I'm not sure how helpful this review will be. Sorry!

In brief: this novel had everything I love in a great book -- wonderful writing, real characters, and a compelling plot that surprised me -- and I
...more
Teresa
2006 was an excellent year for me as I read two of the most memorable debut novels, The Observations by Jane Harris and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I’m not holding my breath re a new offering from Ms Setterfield but I can’t tell you how excited I was last year when I heard about Gillespie and I. I had to put myself out of my misery, buy the hardback tout de suite and dive straight in.

Well, I can assure you that if you were even remotely titivated by The Observations, then you will
...more
Greta
I read this book because I liked the author's first book, The Observations. A few pages in, I realized Gillespie and I was going to be entirely different. But it seemed that I would enjoy it. So I kept reading. And reading. It was OK, as I was reading. The book kept my interest and Harriet's story drove me forward just wanting to know what was going on and why. The story is told from the perspective of the first-person narrator and it appears her version of the story she's telling might be sligh ...more
Diana
As I read this interesting historical novel, I kept thinking about a flower attacked by, say, an insect, or maybe some kind of disease. I think it offers one of the best examples of the untrustworthy narration device I've ever read.

It's 1888, and Harriet, a woman of independent means who is about 35 years old, meets a young painter at a show in London. Coincidentally-- or perhaps not coincidentally-- she encounters him some months later in Glasgow, his native city, and swiftly, deliberately, get
...more
Lari Don
This novel has a couple of features which usually put me off: a very slow pace and a plot which is signalled beforehand with lots of hints. However, in this writer’s hands and in this character’s voice, these devices work perfectly. The story is set around the household of a struggling artist at the time of the International Exhibition in Glasgow, and is told, decades later, by an acquaintance who grew into a family friend and benefactor, and who was there to help when the (often hinted at) fami ...more
Nancy
Even as I type, I don't know how to write this review. I think I will approach it as a book club book. I would strongly suggest that, if you are a book cheater (like myself), don't look ahead with this one. Don't look for spoilers. You know that moment in A Beautiful Mind when Russell Crow is challenged about his mental stability while his roommate sits in the corner and cries? I needed about 30 more seconds to process the scene before I came to the conclusion myself that his roommate wasn't rea ...more
Felice
You know you worry. You adored an author’s first novel but since there is no track record yet –what will #2 be like? Will it be the say-it-isn’t-so short story collection? In my opinion that is the ultimate betrayal and yet the all too common sophomore effort by the literary. It might be nonfiction. That isn’t fabulous but it beats the short story collection by about 800% even if it’s collected essays. Sometimes it’s just a bad or lackluster novel but other times (clue the angelic choir) it’s fa ...more
Laura

From BBC radio 4 Extra - 15 minutes drama:


Victorian gothic mystery by Jane Harris. In 1888, Harriet Baxter, an art-loving Englishwoman, arrives in Glasgow for the city's International Exhibition. She meets the Scottish painter, Ned Gillespie, and his wife, Annie - but tragedy is about to strike the Gillespies.


Dramatised by Chris Dolan.


The end was a bit disappointing but the book is quite good. Even if I asn't able to read the full story Gillespie and I by Jane Harris, an interesting article

...more
Mij Woodward
Reader: be prepared to be taken for a ride.

Prepare for some surprises.

Expect that you might lose sleep.

Accept that you might not actually like some things, things that I cannot spell out or that would ruin the fun for you. It will be okay if you do not like some things, because you will be compensated by how CLEVER it all is.

These were my feelings after reading the last page of this amazing book--at 3:30 in the morning, having been cast under its spell, unable to put the book down, sort of gaspi
...more
Beth
Gillespie and I is Jane Harris' second novel to receive both public and critical acclaim. It is beautifully written in a dignified Victorian manner, which initially disguises the undercurrents of the psychology of the main characters. Another element which took me by surprise (and which I very much appreciated) was the main character's quick-witted sense of humor. It is 1933 in London, England and Harriet Baxter, an elderly English woman living a polite, responsible, and intelligent life with he ...more
Giant Bolster
I think Jane Harris’s first novel, The Observations, actually engaged me more than Gillespie and I, yet the moment I finished this book, I started reading it from the beginning again, in order to pick up the other clues I had missed in the first reading. A masterpiece in the use of an unreliable narrator, I thought Harris exhibited excellent control throughout the novel in the way she presented Harriet’s thoughts and feelings. Through various hints innocuously dropped by Harriet, you start to fo ...more
Roberta
Jane Harris è già nota per il suo esordio, The Observations (Le osservazioni), un romanzo che molti anni fa entrò nella mia wishlist grazie a questa recensione. Ottenuto poi grazie ad uno scambio su aNobii, il libro rimase in libreria per un po', fino a che lo scorso dicembre non arrivò il suo momento e devo dire di averlo apprezzato molto, motivo per cui la scorsa estate decisi di acquistare il nuovo romanzo Gillespie and I.

http://robertabookshelf.blogspot.it/2...
Penny
Strange book - part of me feels I should rate it much higher - but then I think it over and feel the overall experience doesnt allow me to!

Jane Harris writes a well-written, intriguing tale of a single woman who befriends the family of a struggling young artist in Glasgow. She spends a lot of time with them and yet as a reader it doesnt really sit right as to why Harriet is doing this - is she in love with Ned the artist? Is she so lonely she must take any offer of friendship? The truth is we ne
...more
Kirsty
This novel perfectly embodies the phrase "literary thriller": it's certainly thrilling, but the prose is beautiful, the history is detailed, and it's clear that Jane Harris knows exactly what she's doing. I read all 500 pages in a couple of days –immensely enjoyable. ...more
Sabrina
Wow! There are really few words to describe how truly amazing this book. Im just floored. It will be a challenge to see if I put aside my thoughts of Harriet and the Gillespies today. I feel like they are haunting me.

Nick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marie
Gillespie & I had entirely glowing reviews from all of my most trusted sources. It felt like people were urging me to pick it up. But it didn't feel like my usual reading fare. I tend to approach anything resembling 'historical fiction' very cautiously. It's a bit of a chunkster, which I have to admit can also make me a bit more hesitant to plunge into a novel. And despite the positive reviews, the synopses I had read gave me a very poor sense of the plot. A woman's account of her past frien ...more
Bonnie Brody
'Gillespie and I' is a tour de force of a novel. Harriet Baxter, a spinster in her mid-thirties travels to Glasgow from London, originally planning on staying only three months. On her first days in Scotland, she sees Elspeth Gillespie on the sidewalk turning blue, apparently in some sort of dire straits. Harriet tries to revive her and finds that she has her upper dentures caught in her throat. Harriet removes these and Elspeth is able to breathe once again. This is the start of a friendship be ...more
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Bailey's/Orange W...: * October Archive book Gillespie and I 36 16 Nov 05, 2014 11:56PM  
Audiobooks: BBC Radio Drama: Gillespie and I 3 25 Oct 20, 2013 11:26AM  
Lush Library: Gillespie & I - Spoilers 4 32 Feb 13, 2013 08:22AM  
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There is more than one author with this name in the GR database

Jane Harris was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and raised in Glasgow. Her short stories have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines, and she has written several award-winning short films. In 2000, she received a Writer's Award from the Arts Council of England.

She started writing by accident while living in Portuga
...more
More about Jane Harris...
The Observations

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