Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: Gillespie and I

'Gillespie and I'
Author: Jane Harris

Format: Paperback
Published: Harper Perennial; Jan. 2012
Pages: 528
Genre: Historical fiction
Grade: D
Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis: From the award-winning author of The Observations comes a beautifully conjured and wickedly sharp tale of art and deception in nineteenth-century Scotland.
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 chance encounter with Ned, she befriends the Gillespie family and soon becomes a fixture in their lives. But when tragedy strikes, culminating in a notorious criminal trial, the certainty of Harriet’s new world rapidly spirals into suspicion and despair.
Infused with rich period detail, shot through with sly humor, and featuring a memorable cast of characters, Gillespie and I is an absorbing, atmospheric tale of one young woman’s friendship with a volatile artist and her place in the controversy that consumes him—a tour de force from one of the emerging names of modern fiction.

My Take: Honestly, I've been avoiding writing this review and I normally don't do that. I read this book a few weeks ago as I was so excited when it came in the mailbox. I had heard amazing things about Jane Harris and I was honored to be chosen to be a part of the tour to promote her newest book, Gillespie and I. I figured it was fate that put this book in my hand. Alas, perhaps this was a case of too high of expectations, but things did not go as planned.

The crux of the story is this: it is the 1880s in Scotland and we have a witty, young heroine, Harriet. She travels to Scotland on her own, which is quite daring, for a bit of a vacation. She is very wordly-wise and very funny. Harriet I could be friends with. While visiting Glasgow's International Exhibition she meets a semi, or perhaps soon-to-be, famous painter's family, that of one Ned Gillespie. A friendship blossoms. She is invited over for tea, then for walks in the park. Friendships happen. Ned is married to a wife, has two children, has an overbearing mother and ne'er-do-well brother. But it is Ned who Harriet is most intrigued by as he is her intellectual equal and she loves his paintings. A story progresses.

Here's what I loved: Harriet's biting humor. Here's what I didn't love: pretty much everything else. And for a book that's over 500 pages, even though she is a leading lady, Harriet isn't enough to get me through it. The book didn't progress. The plot moved slower than molasses on a cold day one might say and well I didn't want to pick it up at night because I knew I would instantly fall asleep.

However, I know plenty of others had different reactions so don't just count on meFor other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!

Cover Lust: I love this cover! One of the other reasons I was drawn to this book was how artistic this cover is which I think is incredibly fitting because the book centers around an artist's life!


  1. Awesome Review :) Defo gona check out this book after reading your review.

    P.S I tagged you

    1. Honestl'y why can't I comment on my own? Arghh, is is firefox?

      Anyway...yup not the book for me :/ Sorry it did not work better

    2. Hmm, I'm sorry it's not working for you!

  2. Oh no... not good. Slower than molasses on a cold day, pretty much says it all.

    1. For me anyway! Lots of other people seemed to like it but the plot just dragged!

  3. Darn, I'm sorry this one didn't live up to your expectations. Hope your next read is a better fit for you.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  4. This may not be for me since the plot is so slow.

  5. I have heard so much about Jane Harris, but never read her... I am thinking this is not the place to start!

  6. Yikes! I do like that cover, but a book that's a surefire way to put you to sleep isn't one for me.

  7. Oh my gosh...another blog I read today gave it 5 stars??!! I'm sticking with you.

    1. Yeah so many people have liked this one but it just did NOT work for me!

  8. Sometimes I wish we could reread books without whatever issues we had that we think contributed to our not liking it to see if that was really the case. Oh well, that'll never happen, but it's fun to think about.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  9. I'm proud of you for finishing if it dragged that badly! When that happens to me I usually lie it down splayed open to the page I am on but them don't pick it back up. I'm usually reading several books at once so the one that is dragging sits there getting dusty. :). But "ditto" on the cover art.

  10. Bummer, that's a lot of pages to read if you don't love the book. I agree with you about the cover. It is really beautiful.


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