'Gillespie and I'
Author: Jane Harris
Published: Harper Perennial; Jan. 2012
Genre: Historical fiction
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 me! For 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!