Lari Don's Reviews > Gillespie and I
Gillespie and I
by Jane Harris
by Jane Harris
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) family tragedy occurs. The hints and pace work so well because the gossipy voice of the friend, Harriet Baxter, is perfect. It’s a wonderful evocation of late C19th Glasgow (I kept catching glimpses of the modern city past the dresses and horses) and it’s also convincing on the pressures of being an artist without financial support, and on the freedoms and constraints of being a woman more than 100 years ago. But it’s mostly a mystery, built up with suspense and fear, and a stonking whodunnit by the end. And it’s a story which has stayed with me. I finished it a few days ago, and I’m still prodding at it in my head, to see what I really believe happened. Who did what? Who said what? WHY!? A wonderful book, well worth slowing down your reading metabolism for.
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